The spirited, four-way race for the CUNA board seat representing small credit unions in six Midwest states was heating up this week.
While all four of the rivals pledged to be faithful representatives for the interests of small CUs in District 4, a major issue occupying the campaign--some of it aired on the CUES online network--turned out to be the eligibility of one of the candidates, Pat Wesenberg of Wisconsin.
Wesenberg, who represents two CUs--she is CEO of Central City CU in Marshfield and legislative liaison of Marshfield Medical Center CU, a competitor--has long denied she was breaking the CUNA rules but has sought eagerly to fulfill years of industry service as incumbent CUNA board member.
Her rivals have complained both privately and publicly that an injustice has been served since Wesenberg's major employer, Central City, months ago climbed just above District 4, Class C thresholds for CUs under 21,000 members.
One of her rivals, Dennis Fisher, president/CEO of First Security CU of Lincolnwood, Ill., has asked Wesenberg to quit the race, a step she said she has no intention of taking "since I want to let the members decide in the election" the issue of CUNA service.
The voting among the small CUs in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Michigan is slated to end Dec. 17 with the winner formally taking office at CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference in February.
The other two candidates in the race are Brian Smith-Vandergriff, a director of Catholic Family CU of Kansas City, and Pat Drennen, president/CEO of 1st Security CU of Comanche, Iowa.
Drennen, past chairman of the Iowa Credit Union League, said he can vouch for Wesenberg's "good job" on the board and yet there can be a problem with "the spirit of the CUNA rules."Smith-Vandergriff, 29, maintains he will not go "negative" on Wesenberg and is running on a platform that CUNA needs more youthful representatives at its highest leadership levels.