I’m sad to say that this will be my last article for the Willy Street Co-op Reader. I’m at the end of my three-year term and will be headed out of state next month. It’s been a pleasure to serve the Willy Street Co-op Owners during perhaps the most exciting period of growth in its 39-year history! During my tenure, the Board guided the visioning that

  • opened Willy West to a rousing success
  • introduced three key strategic sustainability initiatives
  • offered two patronage refunds
  • initiated the Local Vendor Loan Fund and helped make FEED Kitchens a reality
  • granted nearly $100,000 in Community Reinvestment funds
  • developed a Community Volunteer program
  • can see a third retail site on the horizon.

Now the time has come to elect Board members for the three vacancies on the Board this year. Our growth spurt doesn’t appear to be over yet, so, now more than ever, the Board will be charged with providing strategic guidance to the General Manager to harness that growth in a manner that aligns with Willy Street Co-op’s Ends Policies and with the values and wishes of you, the Owners.

I’ve chaired the Board Development (a.k.a. Nominations) Committee this year, and we spent much of it strategizing on how to get the widest, most qualified variety of candidates to run for the Board. We experimented with different methods of recruiting dedicated Owners and making the call for candidates loud and clear. Aside from offering your business, this is the most important decision you, individually and collectively, can make for the future of Willy Street Co-op, so we wanted to provide you with as much information as we could to help you make a decision you feel confident about.

In this issue of the Reader, you’ll find the candidates’ statements and platforms. We ask that you take some time to learn about who is running and cast your ballot online by August 18th at 11:59pm (we’ll need your e-mail address by noon on August 16th) or paper ballot by August 20th at 6:00pm. Why, you may ask, is this so important? Does my vote really count? Good question! Every single vote counts (only one vote per Ownership) and your participation in the election is key. I outlined the reasons a couple years ago, and they still seem relevant:

Because it’s your right...
Whether you have a family or an individual Ownership, you own equity in Willy Street Co-op and have a say in how it runs by voting for a representative on the Board. One Ownership=one vote. Board members are another way YOU have a voice in how Willy Street Co-op shapes and achieves its goals. You have an opportunity to choose a representative that reflects your values and objectives for Willy Street Co-op.

Because it’s your responsibility...
Isn’t it enough that you shop at the Co-op and pay your Fair Share? Well, that’s one part of Ownership, but the direction that Willy Street Co-op takes is steered by the Board in accordance with our Ends policies. The Board also manages the General Manager, who, in turn, manages all operations and staff. Whether it’s deciding to open a new store, making sustainability improvements a priority, or partnering with local farms, the Board you choose directs staff to make choices that directly impact you and your community. Take a few moments to evaluate each candidate on her/his strategic vision for Willy Street Co-op, her/his communication style, how she/he plans to connect with Owners and what skills she/he brings to our table. The small investment of time today will come back at least tenfold in a strong, healthy Board helming a vigorous, thriving Willy Street Co-op years into the future.

Because it’s fun...
Candidates are running for the Board because they love Willy Street Co-op, value its place in Dane County, and want to share their time and talent. They’re your neighbors, friends and colleagues. There’s no cutthroat, zero-sum game in cooperative policy governance; we’re all in this together, supporting each other and working toward our mission of creating “an economically and environmentally sustainable, cooperatively owned grocery business that serves the needs of its owners and employees.”

Because it’s easy...
A ballot has been emailed to the address we have on file for your household and a paper ballot is included below along with a return envelope (stamp needed). There are also ballots and ballot boxes available in store. We have three open seats, so you may choose up to three candidates!

Dr. Ingo Mahn

Heartland Credit Union