KOTO board election

Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder could vote in the San Miguel Educational Fund board of directors election as long as he was a member. (File photo)

Ballots have been mailed to members of the San Miguel Educational Fund (SMEF) — or KOTO radio — for the 2019 board of directors election. The six candidates running for four open director seats include two incumbents — Mark Izard and Norman Squier — along with Laura Shaunette, Claybrook Penn, Patrick Shehan and Terry Weatherson. 

“I'm absolutely thrilled with the slate of candidates running for the board,” KOTO Executive Director Cara Pallone said. “They offer an impressive repertoire of skills, and we are lucky to have such quality people lined up to serve KOTO.”

Izard, who is DJ Loup Garou, has hosted the “New Orleans Road Trip” radio show for the past decade. He’s been a member of the SMEF board for the past six years, serving as president since 2017. Among his accomplishments with KOTO board and staff, Izard lists “increased membership, financial growth and stability and development of a long-term strategic plan.”

With a college degree in music business, Shaunette has “always appreciated the power of audio.” Since moving to Telluride in 2011, she has produced events for Telluride Theatre, Gay Ski Week, Original Thinkers Festival and Telluride Arts. With music and community as “passions,” Shaunette hopes to share her skills and ideas with KOTO.

Penn, who moved to Telluride in 2004, hosts “Bootsie’s Boombox” radio show. Inspired by the impact KOTO has on the town and county, Penn is running for the SMEF board “to represent the working folks of this community, to give back to KOTO, and to help cultivate and boost KOTO’s relevance in our modern multimedia age.”

Longtime host of “Noman’s Land” radio show, Squier has been “witness to and a part of a number of recent steps at KOTO,” which he feels will “both in the long run and short run, be very beneficial for the radio station.” Squier would “appreciate being afforded the opportunity to continue with the board for another election period.”

For the past year-and-a-half, Shehan has hosted the “POW Surf Radio” show. As a “local music industry professional and digital marketing expert,” Shehan would focus on several potential board initiatives, including development of website visitor “data capture protocols,” email marketing systems for fundraising messaging and a long-term “digital content vision.”

Weatherson, aka “Walter from Wichita,” has lived in Wichita, Kansas, his entire life, has been streaming KOTO for years and plans to attend SMEF board meetings via Skype, if elected. His interest in the board “has one purpose: Broaden the base of donors to ensure the life of KOTO.”

Pallone explained that board members are counted on to provide financial oversight, help generate revenue for the station and continue steering the nonprofit toward a sustainable future.

“But it's not just about the bottom line,” she added. “Board members are also tasked with upholding KOTO's mission and serving as ambassadors for an organization that holds a special place in this community.”

In addition to the board of directors election, there’s also a proposed revision to the SMEF bylaws on the ballot, which suggests SMEF members elect four board members — a majority — to serve staggered two-year terms. Board members would then proceed to appoint three directors annually at the January meeting to serve one-year terms. The board would also be entitled to appoint non-voting, ex-officio directors as they deem appropriate. 

Longtime DJ and former board and staff member Robert Allen finds the proposed revision to the SMEF bylaws confusing and will vote against the change. 

“Changing the way the directors are voted in can lead to nepotism, while leaving the current system favors popularity,” he said. “I tend to stay with the system that has been in place since inception. I believe the founding fathers saw the election process — all directors are voted in by the membership — to be a sound and honest one.”

Outgoing SMEF board member Jim Berkowitz proposed the bylaw change because not only is it a challenge to find people willing to run, but he thinks the SMEF election tends to be a “popularity contest.” He also argues that several elected directors have quickly resigned in recent years, and the bylaws state that the board may nominate and appoint a replacement when a board member resigns.

“This bylaw change would give us the ability to round out the board with skills that we need,” he explained. “With people who could help us with our relationships with Telski, with Telluride Mountain Village Owner’s Association, with the new and wealthy demographic who are moving to Telluride and Mountain Village, which is not the demographic of a typical SMEF member.”

To receive a ballot, SMEF members must have donated $20 or more during the past year. If current members did not receive a ballot, they should call the station at 970-728-4334 or email operations assistant Heidi Sarazen at heidi@koto.org. Non-members may go to koto.org and donate $20 in order to receive a ballot. Ballots can be mailed to P.O. Box 1069 or dropped off at the station at 207 N. Pine St. All ballots are due by Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.