Candidates for the Cobb EMC board of directors agreed Tuesday night that the electric utility needs to enter a new era of openness and integrity.
But the 22 candidates outnumbered the potential voters at the forum the Cobb Alliance for Smart Energy sponsored at the .
"While we're disappointed in the turnout, we appreciate those who have come out to learn more about the candidates," said the chairman of CASE.
The candidates are running for six seats on the board. The election will take place March 31 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at in Northeast Cobb.
Cobb EMC serves 190,000 customers throughout Cobb and adjoining counties as well as southwest Georgia. The territory is divided into 10 service areas, each represented by a director on the Cobb EMC board, but every customer gets to vote for all of the seats on the board.
Each candidate had two minutes Tuesday to say why he or she should get those votes.
All agreed on two necessities: a forensic audit for the electric co-op and more transparency among the board, staff and customers.
"Everyone's talking transparency but not practicing it," said Area 8 candidate Bill Clements of West Cobb, who said he has followed the public troubles at Cobb EMC for six years. "There's no disclosure in these elections, and that's not how you do business."
Tripper Sharp, a candidate in Area 5, was among those who filed the lawsuit against Cobb EMC that led to the indictment of former .
"We've saved over $100 million for the customers of Cobb EMC," said Sharp, adding that he has the history to serve on the board. "I didn't show up to this party just a few weeks ago."
The other candidates at the forum were Sheri Wilburn and Wanda Taylor of Area 9; Tom Schroeder and Tim Gaze of Area 8; John Wallace, Charles Sevier, Michael Rudolph, Vern Krawagna, John Ernst, Jim Brown, B.J. Britt and Scott Chadwick of Area 5; David McClellan, James Hudson, Richard Ferguson, Al Cerqueda, Lonnie Ayers and Craig Harfoot of Area 4; and Bill Hutson and Larry King of Area 3.
Bios of the candidates are in the PDF attached to this article.
Hutson, who served as Cobb County sheriff for 27 years, said he sees the Cobb EMC board as his opportunity to give back to a community that has been good to him.
"I want to return trust and honesty to the board of directors," he said.
The candidates agreed that the former Cobb EMC board lacked those qualities. Most said that the law firm of King & Spalding should be fired immediately and that staffers might follow after an audit.
"A lot more will come out during the Dwight Brown trial," Hutson said.