St. Helens Plaintiff Lauds Board Election Outcome
Steven Knebel, a member of the $170 million St. Helens Community FCU who is suing the Oregon credit union over a board recall election, said he doesn’t know where the allegiance of two new board members lies regarding the issue.
“I just know they’re thinking people,” Knebel said of Steven Correll and Seth Holmes, who won board elections during the St. Helens, Ore.-based credit union’s annual meeting Tuesday.
He added that “new blood” on the board – regardless of their opinion of his lawsuit – is a positive move for the credit union.
According to a release from SHCFCU, former Chairman Lea Chitwood did not win re-election. The second seat up for grabs was open.
The board appointed Vice Chairman Tom Tussing to serve as board chairman following the annual meeting. Tussing, who assumes duties immediately, thanked Chitwood for her service and affirmed the board’s commitment to the credit union’s current direction.
“Thanks in no small part to Lea’s leadership, the credit union has made outstanding progress over the last year. We’ve implemented a new governance model, improved our safety and soundness, and have cast a vision for continued success,” Tussing said.
“The board remains unified and committed to the strategic direction of the credit union, and we look forward to working with Steven and Seth in the months ahead,” he said.
According to SHCFCU, Holmes is a long-time member and former credit union employee.
“It’s an honor to serve as a board member, and I look forward to continuing the credit union’s recent progress—particularly as we seek to improve our technology and attract younger members,” he said.
Correll has been a member of the credit union for 30 years.
“I enjoy being a part of a strong, vibrant organization and believe our best days are ahead. I welcome the opportunity to contribute my experience and skills to help our current leadership build for the future,” he said.
Knebel said the credit union sent out mail ballots this year, in response to last year, when 250 members sympathetic to Knebel turned up and voted out two incumbents.
SHCU’s assets grew from $159 million to $161 million and net income increased by $300,000 between December 2011 and the end of 2012. Last month, the credit union surpassed $170 million in assets for the first time in its 75-year history. Membership has also peaked to its highest level, approaching 16,000.
“It’s been a privilege working with Lea and our board over the last year to simplify, stabilize and strengthen the credit union as a whole,” said SHCU President/CEO Brooke Van Vleet. “I have full confidence that our board will continue to act in the best interest of our entire membership under Tom’s able leadership.”
Knebel is suing the credit union over alleged bylaw violations during a directors recall election in June 2012. According to court documents, the credit union counted mailed recall ballots, which contradicts federal credit union bylaws that require recall elections only count votes cast in person during a special meeting.
The plaintiff was among a group of members who spearheaded recall effort over the dismissal of former SHCFCU CEO Jeff Schwarz, and in opposition to a proposed merger with the $152 million Wauna FCU. The merger was later called off.