Stay politically engaged all year long

While some other states will have an election on Nov. 7, the next election in Illinois will be the primary election, just 4 1/2 months from now, on March 19, 2024. Voting is one of the most important rights as citizens, and you should exercise your right to vote every time you have the chance.

An electric cooperative’s No. 1 priority is providing consumer-members with safe, reliable and affordable electricity. But doing this job requires more than maintaining power lines. It requires political engagement. Engaging with elected officials and policymakers is essential to serving you, the consumer-member.

It’s critical to develop and cultivate relationships with local legislators, because they craft, introduce and vote on legislation that impacts electric cooperatives and their consumer-members. That’s why the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives, generation and transmission cooperatives, and local distribution electric cooperatives work closely with elected officials. After all, our purpose is not only to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy, but also to help communities across the state thrive.

As a practical matter, legislators vote on a wide range of issues. With an ever-changing energy industry, it is important to help provide guidance and expertise as subject matter experts who’ve been in the energy industry for many years.

Today’s energy landscape is an increasingly complex topic, covering not only the traditional engineering and vegetation management aspects of the industry, but also technology, cybersecurity, the electrification of the transportation sector and more.

Co-op leaders provide briefings and information to legislators, committees and staff and offer expert testimony for hearings and other legislative or regulatory meetings. Because electric co-ops are involved in economic development, they can provide insight into how issues and policies under discussion might impact the region.

We strive to be a trusted resource on energy issues, and we will continue looking after the long-term interests of consumer-members. This means we can cultivate and foster positive, productive relationships with legislators.

What can you do as a consumer-member of an electric cooperative? The first step is for all of us to keep talking about the issues that matter to rural America and electric co-ops. Sharing about the work that electric cooperatives throughout Illinois are doing every day ensures continued access to reliable electricity and improves life in our rural communities. The second step is to exercise your right to vote. Boosting voter turnout ensures that the issues that matter to our areas are heard everywhere.

These vitally important local and state elections are often decided by a small fraction of our citizens, so be one of the faithful few who show up for every election.

Our democracy is at its finest when our citizens are most engaged. That’s true for selecting our national leaders in Washington, our state leaders in Springfield and the leaders in the communities we live. I hope you’ll contribute to that continued strength by staying engaged and casting a ballot in every election.