The Coastal Community Credit Union Election – Who to Vote For?

I am a member of the Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU), and there’s currently an election happening in which six people are running to fill three vacant seats. 

Under the right leadership, a credit union can make a big difference, so a credit union election is also a climate election, a local food and farming election, a green economy election, and so much more.

Who should I vote for? What questions should I be asking? What should I be thinking about? The deadline for voting is next Tuesday, March 29th, so I’ve left this rather late. Sneak peak – these are my recommended candidates:

A credit union is a financial cooperative that is owned and governed by its members. When they play an active role in choosing their Directors, amazing things can happen, as Vancity demonstrates (543,000 members, 55 branches, 2,675 employees). During 2021: 

  1. It funded 3,008 affordable housing units to be constructed or renovated; 
  2. It shared $13.9 million (30% of its profits) with members and the community; 
  3. It handled $4.1 billion in deferred loans to help members facing financial hardship due to the pandemic;
  4. To tackle the climate crisis, it set a goal to be net-zero emissions by 2040 across all mortgages and loans; 
  5. It actively worked to deepen and broaden relationships with the Indigenous community.
  6. It helped build the local green economy by financing green building projects, energy efficiency upgrades and innovative environmental technologies;
  7. It supported co-operatives that have a mission to achieve social, environmental, economic and cultural impact, such as coops that provide jobs for people who face barriers to employment;
  8. It financed businesses and not-for-profits that are building a sustainable local food system. 
  9. It is assisted people who need help developing their financial literacy.

CCCU could have a track record like this if we elect Directors who are committed to this kind of positive community change. 

Don’t get me wrong. CCCU certainly supports the community in safe, traditional ways, for which I am very grateful. Its website has no data for 2020 or 2021, but in 2019

  • It gave $200K+ to support programs for Island youth
  • It staff spent 5800 hours volunteering with community initiatives 
  • It gave $500K+ to community organizations
  • It helped 1,000 Young Entrepreneur students

What CCCU is NOT doing, however, is working to tackle the climate crisis, support cooperatives, build affordable housing, or any of the myriad other things Vancity does. So through this election, we need directors who will bring more urgency and creativity to the Board. 

Credit union elections should be free and open – right? Vancity allows its candidates to campaign openly, just as we would expect it to. CCCU, however, does not. Its Election Guidelines state that:

  • Campaigning by television, radio, email, newspapers, the internet, social media, or printed material is prohibited.
  • CCCU only allows candidates to solicit the votes of members in person or by telephone. For privacy reasons, member lists are not made available.
  • CCCU prohibits campaigning inside or within a hundred meters of any CCCU branch.
  • Candidates who are contacted by the media on the topic of their candidacy are not allowed to provide comment.

Vladimir Putin would be proud of such rules. 

So who am I voting for? There are four good candidates out of the six who are standing; the other two are sitting directors whose track record shows that they do not appear to have interest in moving CCCU in a direction that can make a difference in the world, the way Vancity does. And judging by CCCU’s election rules, they have no interest in allowing a healthy democratic election, either.

So these are the three I am voting for, and encouraging others to vote for:

  1. Nola Jeffrey, is of Tsimshian and Coast Salish ancestry and a member of the Eagle Clan. She has worked at Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society based in Lantzville since 2000, and has been Executive Director since 2015. Her strong leadership and team building skills are utilized as she continues to foster a common vision with her team of over 40 employees.
  2. Art Blundell, Ph.D, has served previously on the boards of Modo, the car-share cooperative; the Mudge Island Community Society; and who was Chair of the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitors in Liberia. He is committed to making CCCU climate-smart. He is an advisor to the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission and a consultant to the Washington-based think tank Forest Trends. He works at the intersection of the management of natural resources and conflict.
  3. Dominique Roelants, a current Director, the only lawyer on the board, reputed to be very astute, and committed to Vancouver Island. He was a professor in the Computer Science department at VIU, and is a past Board member of Vancouver Island University, the Cowichan Valley Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and the University of Victoria.

The fourth candidate, who I hope will get elected next year, is Jeremy Stayton, who has an MBA in sustainable business, and is CEO of a Benefit Corporation that provides IT services to impact-driven organizations. 

The CCCU election rules control what candidates can do with an iron fist, but they do not control what members can do. For the record, I have not been asked by any of these candidates to publish this story, and nor have I spoken to them in any way to receive ‘comment’.

You can vote here, by Tuesday March 29th. Please do!

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