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2014 Board Election

Candidate Statements

2014 Co-op Board Election/Article/Bylaw Amendment Vote

Six candidates are running for three open seats, and this year we also will be voting on bylaw amendments (they are in the Shopper and in a pdf here). When you receive your ­November-December Shopper, look for the election section on pages 16-19, with your official mail-in ballot on page 19. Please take a few moments to mail your ballot—or vote at the annual meeting on December 6—ballot boxes will not be available in the stores.

Candidate Statements

Donald (Donn) E. Frederick

Rochester

2. Skills

  • Working with people.
  • Understanding different opinions.
  • 45 years retail and business ownership.
  • Offering opinions only when informed.
  • Uniting people together for a cause.

3. Relevant experience

  • 1967–71 Dayton’s sales and management.
  • 1972–90 Sears sales.
  • 1990–present business owner/operator.
  • I have held an officer’s duty in Western Saddle Club Association, Pleasant Grove Saddle Club, District 3 AQHA

4. Challenges for PFC

  • To me expanding membership would be an important thing.
  • Education of people about our food supply and where it comes from.
  • Letting people know who and where we are and looking for people to shop who may not be members.

5. Potential opportunities for PFC

  • Finding and working with more local farmers and letting people know how important that is to our effort to offer top quality food.

 

Andrew Londre 

La Crosse

1. Reasons for Running

  • I believe in and have great passion for expanding access to healthy food, supporting community-oriented/socially responsible businesses, and cooperative values. And as a past PFC employee, I feel a responsibility to give back to my co-op.

2. Skills

  • Extensive organizational leadership and management background.
  • Ability to translate passion into action.
  • Business development experience.
  • Deep understanding of food/community health.
  • Consensus building attitude.

3. Relevant experience

  • Current job: Couleecap Business and Income Developer.
  • Past jobs: County Board Supervisor, Reaching Your Potential Autism Line Therapist, State Assembly Campaign Manager, Coulee Region Humane Society, Cashier at People’s Food Co-op.
  • Board experience: Association for Community Design (national), La Crosse Neighborhood Development Corporation, Powell Poage Hamilton Neighborhood Association, Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation Rural Advisory Council, ReNEW La Crosse Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Revitalization Commission, Young Elected Officials Network, Room Tax Commission, Preservation Alliance of La Crosse, Move Out Sustainability Team.

4. Challenges for PFC

  • Managing our tremendous growth in a way that is consistent with our co-op’s values.
  • Maintaining our edge as La Crosse and Rochester’s go-to grocer for natural/healthy groceries.
  • Eroding wages for American workers threatens our ability to sell our products, which are typically higher priced than conventional products.

5. Potential opportunities for PFC

  • Nationally, there are two long-term societal/consumer trends that play to our strengths: American consumers are becoming much more interested in buying local/organic/natural/healthy foods, as well as buying from companies that are socially responsible.
  • Locally, I also see opportunities in La Crosse where people are moving back to the city, long-­vacant downtown storefronts are filling up, and once written-off neighborhoods are rebounding too.

 

Jocylyn Poehler

La Crosse, incumbent

1. Reasons for Running

  • I love my Co-op! I’ve been involved with the store as either a staff member, shopper, member and/or board member since I began working at the La Crosse location in the fall of 1999.
  • My family is committed to eating locally and organically grown food, and I strongly believe that everyone should have access to good food and be able to connect with their community through local, organic, fairly-traded products.
  • Cooperatives are built on democracy. I believe that it is important to give back, have member input and participation, and be involved in the decision-making process.

2. Skills

  • I have strong leadership abilities and good communication skills, which I believe are important for all Board members. I will listen to concerns and opinions of members and shoppers and will do my best to explain Board decisions.
  • I worked at the La Crosse store for almost seven years and I have been on the Board of Directors for the last three years. I believe that I have a good understanding of the operational workings of the store, the staff, and of the needs and desires of the membership and our communities.
  • I have a law degree and have taken courses in corporate and tax law. I am familiar with the co-op business model and the legal and ethical responsibilities of the Board, and I believe that I can continue to fulfill those responsibilities while representing the interests of our membership.

3. Relevant experience

  • I’ve been on the PFC Board for three years, serving as treasurer for over the last two years.
  • I’ve been chair of the audit committee and have also served on the bylaw committee.
  • I participated in the member loan campaign to assist in obtaining funding for the new Rochester store.
  • I worked at the La Crosse store for over six years and am familiar with many of the staff members and the operational issues in that store.

4. Challenges for PFC

  • Continuing to set our store apart as a leader in fresh, local, organic, fairly-traded foods while facing continued competition from other stores in that area.
  • Balancing the needs and expectations of our La Crosse and Rochester communities.
  • Making sure that members are happy with the direction the Co-op is taking.

5. Potential opportunities for PFC

  • Educating our members, staff and communities about the benefits of cooperatives, cooperative values, local, organic and fairly-traded goods.
  • Continuing and improving partnerships with other cooperatives and other area organizations to support our local communities.

 

Ray Schmitz

Rochester, incumbent

1. Reasons for Running

  • Serving on the Board I want to build on that experience to work to strengthen the stores.
  • Bring more local food into the stores.
  • Strengthen communication with members.
  • Co-ops are the voice of organic and sustainable foods.

2. Skills

  • As an attorney I bring my experience and thinking process to discussions.
  • As a trained mediator I work to bring consensus to discussions
  • My concern for the environment reinforces my desire to strengthen the Co-op as a supporter of local farmers.
  • I enjoy discussing the Co-op with fellow members and customers and encouraging shopping.
  • My familiarity with business and government organizations and individuals keeps me updated on Rochester and alert to issues involving the Co-op.

3. Relevant experience

  • Served as Olmsted County Attorney for nearly forty years, well-known in the community.
  • Serving on board of Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Zumbro Watershed Partnership, Rochester Energy Commission, Olmsted County Environmental Commission (previous), and other professional and civic groups.

4. Challenges for PFC

  • Competition, growth in organic demand is increasing availability of chain big box stores.
  • In Rochester, the growth of the city and our neighborhood is both an opportunity and a challenge; we need to convince shoppers to come through the door.
  • In La Crosse, construction in the area of the store may limit access; the time since the last refreshing means it is due, and that is always a challenge for staff and shoppers.

5. Potential opportunities

  • Shoppers are demanding local and organic foods. Co-ops own that brand and need to remind shoppers that it started here and we still do it better.
  • With the area served by the stores we need to market throughout the area.
  • The stores’ size and being only food sets us apart from the big boxes; we need to remind shoppers of that. We are focused and friendly.
  • Increasing links to local farmers and producers strengthens both us and them.

Vernadette Simon

Rochester

1. Reasons for Running

  • I’ve been a food co-op member and/or shopper for fifteen years, including six years of membership at the Good Food Store/People’s Food Co-op.
  • I enjoy shopping at food co-ops because of the comfortable community (i.e. non-corporate) feeling they have. Also, as a vegetarian and a home-cook, I appreciate the whole/fresh-food offerings. In running for a board position, my intention is to better understand how our food co-op runs and to contribute to its successful operation.

2. Skills

  • I am methodical in troubleshooting.
  • I prioritize well and have decent organizational skills.
  • I am open-minded and friendly, and I enjoy collaborating with others on projects.
  • I am diplomatic but not afraid to speak up when necessary. 
  • I have good communication skills and I am willing to meet with people in our community.

3. Relevant experience

  • I am the Vice President/Secretary of the Crimson Ridge Townhome community Board of Directors. I regularly field questions and concerns from homeowners and convey that information to our property manager and/or to our vendors. 
  • I’m presently employed as a Senior Research Technologist 2 in the Gene Expression Core Facility at Mayo Clinic, where I function as both scientist and customer service representative.
  • Finally, since 2009, I have helped organize an annual food drive for Channel One, collecting over 1400 pounds of food and toiletries.

4. Challenges for PFC

  • The PFC (in Rochester specifically) will need to find ways to attract and retain the changing demographic as it becomes younger and more culturally diverse.
  • As well, we will have to continue to compete with area grocers.
  • Last, while addressing the above issues, we will need to stay focused on the mission of supplying healthy and sustainable food to the greater community.

5. Potential opportunities

  • The cooperative should stay focused on healthy and sustainable foods and eco-products.
  • While the PFC needs to compete with other grocers, it cannot be all things to all people. The co-op should strive to be the best venue for earth-, body- and soul-friendly items. We should continue to attract students and young professionals in an effort to build the customer base of the future; but we must not forget to engage domestic and international communities of color.
  • We should explore offering new/different food options to appeal to international customers (examples: lentils, vegetables; goat, lamb). As well, we could attract people from all backgrounds by holding more classes on healthy ethnic cooking (examples: African, Caribbean, Indian, Middle-Eastern, Thai).

Paul Sims

Rochester

1. Reasons for Running

  • I am committed to helping grow a vibrant Rochester and see the PFC as a key anchor to the vitality of our downtown, just as the PFC has done in La Crosse.
  • It is important for me to give back to our community through service with causes that align with my values.
  • As a member of PFC La Crosse (starting 2003), the Good Food Store (starting 2007), and now the Rochester PFC it is clear that my values of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and my strong support for local/regional businesses are shared by the PFC, and I would welcome the opportunity to share my creative approach, organizational and business skills to help continue its success.

2. Skills

  • My career in architecture has focused on listening to clients, then helping them look at the big picture.
  • I have a proven background in planning with many major projects completed.
  • Previous committee work has shown me the value of maintaining an open mind while looking for fair ways to compromise and bring parties together.

3. Relevant experience

  • I have practiced architecture for twenty-five years and have been at Mayo Clinic for seven years.
  • I hold MBA and Bachelor of Architecture degrees.
  • I currently serve on the Rochester Planning & Zoning Commission (April 2010–present) and Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals (January 2014 –present). I served on the Gundersen Lutheran Credit Union Board (February 2005–November 2006).

4. Challenges for PFC

  • As Rochester grows, opportunities and threats exist to the PFC. New grocers may enter the market while existing competition retools to put healthy food choices in a more prominent place within their stores.  
  • PFC, like many businesses in Rochester, is challenged to find a clear marketing voice in a splintered media environment. 
  • Continuing to satisfy a diverse and engaged membership is an ongoing challenge.  

5. Potential opportunities

  • The growth of downtown Rochester will bring new residents and visitors to town. Capturing this new and transient market will build continued customers and new members.
  • The addition of the University of Minnesota Rochester campus near PFC will generate new opportunities to serve students, faculty and staff. 
  • The possibility of expanding catering services to nearby businesses will increase as redevelopment occurs on the south end of downtown.
  • Partnerships with other businesses and sponsorship of healthy events will keep the PFC name associated with healthy living here in Rochester.