voice was heard
In a ritual as regular
as the blooming of the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital,
representatives from Missouri’s
electric cooperatives traveled to Washington, D.C., in May to take
part in the annual Legislative Conference sponsored by the National
Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
There have been years when our annual pilgrimage required us to defend
the existence of the rural electric cooperative program when it was attacked
by special interests wanting to kill the program.
This year was different,
however. When our delegation of 46 Missouri managers, key employees
and directors called on their members of Congress they were there,
in large part, to say thanks. That’s because our
congressional delegation has time after time shown tremendous support
for rural Missouri and their rural constituents who choose to live
This level of support
has always been there from folks like our U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and Jim
Talent and U.S. Reps. Sam Graves, Ike Skelton, Jo Ann Emerson, Roy
Blunt and Kenny Hulshof, who represent largely rural districts. But
when our national association asks us to rally support for a cause,
urban congressmen like William Lacy Clay, Todd Akin, Russ Carnahan and Emanuel
Cleaver are quick to listen to us and offer their support.
It was nice to
meet with these good people or their staffs this year and simply
say thanks on behalf of you and your electric co-op.
For Rep. Jo Ann
Emerson, the nation’s electric cooperatives had something
special to present. At the NRECA annual meeting in February, it was announced
that the southeast Missouri representative would be honored with the
Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given by the association.
legislative duties prevented her from receiving the award at the
NRECA annual meeting, so Jo Ann was honored during the opening
ceremonies of the Legislative Conference. For many of us, watching
the presentation brought us a great sense of pride that someone from
the Show-Me State was receiving such a great honor. For those of us
who have watched Jo Ann lead the fight for rural America and have worked
with her, it didn’t
surprise us that she was getting this national recognition.
delegation swelled with pride as we heard her brief and humble remarks,
describing her work on behalf of rural people as a “passion” and
her constituents as “something special.” Perhaps speaking
for the entire Missouri delegation, she said those calling on her
later in the week should know, “I’m on your side.” Those
comments reaffirmed what we have always known.
As we travel to Washington
on your behalf, it’s comforting to know our
message falls on friendly ears no matter which office we are in
or on which side of the aisle the listener sits. We get this kind
of reception because we are there as true, voluntary grassroots
representatives of you, the cooperative owner, and our efforts
are part of a great American tradition based on each citizen’s
right to address our elected officials.
Again, this year,
I am pleased to report your cooperative’s views were
heard by our elected representatives and support for your cooperative
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.