Credit unions, as established by Congress, were given a special tax exempt, non-profit status because, in part, of their mandate to represent the interests of the members (not shareholders). “They are member-owned, democratically operated, not-for-profit organizations” (Government Accountability Office) known as 501 c14 organizations. These three candidates believe in the importance of member/owner involvement. There are several ways they advocate increasing member engagement. First, board elections have not been happening at CCCU. This January’s election will be the first in nine years and is only happening now because Rees, James and Maricela forced the issue by petitioning the membership directly to get on the ballot. The required annual members’ meeting has become a 5-minute non-event. They believe that this should be a real opportunity for the membership to ask questions of staff and the board and learn about CCCU successes and challenges. There are many other ways that interested members can and should be involved.
James, Maricela, and Rees believe that CCCU has the capacity to play a greater role in the wellbeing of our community. That discussion should happen at the board level and involve interested members, but that is not currently the case. Rogue Credit Union, right across the border in Oregon, is a partner on many community projects led by an active board geographically representing the communities served. Other credit unions are leaders and partners in the economic development of their region, receive federal funding to help the families of young members get a better financial start in life, and are the primary leaders in low- and middle-income housing development. There are many resources available to these forward-looking credit unions that both protect the member/owners while extending the great work of the credit union. It takes time, gumption, the careful weighing of many alternatives and the deep involvement of interested members and board to build a better credit union.
Currently there are no term limits for CCCU board members. As a result, board members have served for decades, some forty years or more. Furthermore, many practices standard to mature boards are not evident despite having been proposed by concerned board members. There is no board job description, no governance committee to resolve disagreements, and no system to evaluate board or member generated ideas or proposals. We believe that board members should, at a minimum, visit communities that have a CCCU presence like Hoopa, Crescent City and Weaverville. Maricela, Rees, and James believe that these and other best practices should be integrated into CCCU Board operations.