The urge to serve the industry during what one CEO called "a very exciting and anxious period" coupled with heightened interest in dealing with the corporate dilemma are apparently factors in an unusual spate of candidates and contested elections for CUNA's 2011 board of directors.
In fact, there are three contested races for district seats, including a four-way race for a director's job held by the smallest CUs. All of the voting in the contested races is to wind up by Dec. 17, but one contingent of CUNA directors has already been elected after nominated candidates won by acclamation.
The rivals in the four-way race for the District 4 Class A seat are Patricia A. Wesenberg, Marshfield, Wis.; Brian Smith-Vandergriff, Kansas City, Mo.; Pat Drennen, Comanche, Iowa; and Dennis Fisher, Lincolnwood, Ill.
The foursome all represents CUs with under 21,000 members.
Meanwhile, candidates in other contested races on the West Coast and in the Midwest in making their campaign pitches appealed for higher levels of CU collaboration in at least three areas: pushing for enabling legislation on member business lending, taking advantage of banking weakness in retail product areas and mapping out equitable solutions on corporate services.
"I decided that with all the challenges we confront and the new leadership at CUNA under Bill Cheney, with whom I've worked with, I felt I could contribute my skills and do my part," said Brett Martinez, a former chairman of the California/Nevada Credit Union League and president/CEO of Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif.
His rival for the District 6 Class C seat is Scott Waite, chief financial officer at Patelco CU in San Francisco, who also cited industry urgency and perils, stressing that his accounting background, his service to CUNA, FASB and as chairman of CUNA's CFO Council put him in good stead to take on the director's job.
He said his experience can be helpful in charting "the future landscape" of the corporates as the industry determines "what is affordable and workable."In the four-way race for the District 4 Class A seat for small CUs, Wesenberg of Wisconsin is sponsored by the $49 million Marshfield Medical Center CU where she is governmental affairs liaison. She also is president/CEO of a competitor CU in Marshfield, the $166 million Central City.
Representing Missouri is Smith-Vandergriff, a 29-year-old volunteer and CUSO executive who advocates greater diversity on the CUNA board.
"As a third-generation member of the credit union movement, I have sought this position to provide service and guidance to the industry during these unprecedented times," explained Smith-Vandergriff in citing his financial and tech background as well as offering a generational perspective.
From Iowa is Drennen, the outgoing chairman of the Iowa Credit Union League and president/CEO of 1st Gateway CU who also maintains a desire to continue industry service, particularly "when we have this change in leadership in CUNA," adding "this can be a good time for credit unions."
Fisher of Illinois said he was eager to find provider solutions for Illinois CUs, including the smallest in the wake of corporate restructuring.
"I believe we need a small credit union alliance in which larger credit unions can help guide us in developing efficiencies in the area of supplies, compliance and regulation," said Fisher.
He said his own CU has long looked outside the corporates for economical services using Fifth Third Bank for some processing work, though he does understand the need for a systemwide solution.
Fisher said he also believes CUNA needs to work harder at developing stronger ties with Tea Party supporters to ensure backing for CU causes.
Apart from that contested race, CUNA last week also said six CU leaders having won their CUNA seats by acclamation can take office next February during the Governmental Affairs Conference.
These new board members are Ed Williams, president/CEO Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa.; Wendell Lyons, president/CEO of the Kentucky Credit Union League; Maurice Smith, CEO at Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C.; Jeff York, president/CEO of Coasthills FCU, Lompoc, Calif.; and Harriet May, the current CUNA chairman and president/CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas.
Also in the group is Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League and former editor-in-chief of Credit Union Times.