BY HALEY MOON
Iowa’s locally owned electric cooperatives have a long and successful history of working with elected officials and policymakers to advocate for their member-consumers. Iowa Rural Power advocates – made up of co-op directors, employees and member-consumers – are known for wearing the iconic green shirts while attending events in their communities, in Des Moines and in Washington, D.C., to talk about issues impacting rural Iowans. Rural Power advocates work hard to educate elected officials on public policy that promotes rural economic development and supports safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the opportunities Rural Power advocates typically attend to engage with candidates for office and elected officials were canceled. Events such as the annual REC Day on the Hill at the State Capitol in Des Moines, the NRECA Legislative Conference in Washington, the Iowa State Fair and countless campaign events were canceled, postponed or shifted to a virtual platform. And like all of us getting through this pandemic, Rural Power had to adjust.
Advocates adapt to pandemic changes
Even though the methods aren’t the same as we’re used to, Iowa’s electric cooperatives have successfully kept communication lines open with elected officials. Through phone calls and video conferencing, and small socially distanced events at the co-op, advocates have continued to speak up for their communities. Because even though the pandemic has changed plenty, one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of ensuring electric co-op member-consumers have a consistent voice and a credible message.
You can be a voice for rural Iowa
One of the most important ways to ensure co-op member-consumers have a voice is by voting. Member-consumers like you know best what is important in your community, and you can help send a message to elected officials that rural Iowa deserves their support. Iowa Rural Power, in conjunction with the national organization Co-ops Vote, is working to encourage voter registration and participation in the election on Nov. 3. We don’t care who you vote for, we just care that you vote!
In Iowa, you can vote early in-person, on election day or by absentee ballot. Remember these dates as you get ready to vote:
Oct. 5 – First day of absentee voting
Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. – Pre-registration deadline; Deadline to request absentee ballot to be mailed
Oct. 31 – Auditor’s Office open for absentee voting
Nov. 2 – Absentee ballot in-person deadline; Postmark deadline for absentee ballots
Nov. 3 – Election Day
To learn more about voting in this year’s election, visit www.voterready.iowa.gov or contact your county auditor.
If this year has taught us anything, it is the importance of community. Our core cooperative principle of concern for community has always driven the work of Iowa Rural Power. Now more than ever we are proud to advocate on behalf of our communities, the people served and the lives powered by electric cooperatives. Follow @iaruralpower on Facebook and Twitter or visit www.iaruralpower.org to learn more.