2017 Board Candidate Statements

Update, 2/24/17: One candidate withdrew from the election, so there are now 5 candidates. 

We are happy to introduce the 5 candidates in the 2017 Board of Directors election! Electronic voting will take place from March 4th-12th, and winners of the 4 open seats will be announced March 13th. Email boardelections@moscowfood.coop with any questions. 

Thomas bitterwolf

1. Personal skills and experience

I realize that an application for a Co-op Board position from a Chemistry Professor may seem a bit odd. Heaven’s knows you can’t eat anything coming out of my laboratory and even the aromas from my labs may kill your appetite for days. Having said that there’s a great deal of chemistry in cooking and I like to consider myself a modestly accomplished chef who prizes quality ingredients for food lovingly prepared. My classes are sprinkled with food examples to get across chemistry concepts and I try to encourage my students to be informed about the information, and misinformation, they encounter related to food and health.

Since coming to Moscow almost thirty years ago I’ve been active in Rotary and then in Boy Scouts. I served for a year as President of the local Rotary club and for the last several years have been an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 344. I’ve given several, well received presentations for local environmental groups on climate change, a subject I am passionate about. I’ve also been very active nationally and globally in professional societies and have held a score of leadership positions in those groups as well as a good many academic leadership positions at the UI. Finally, I’m a retired Navy Commander.

2. Why I would like to serve on the Co-op Board

I’ve been a member of the Co-op for a good many years drawn in by the breads, spices, sausage and mushrooms. I strongly support the mission of the Co-op and have enjoyed watching it and its offerings grow from the little shop on 6th street to the new, modern facility. I am also aware of the challenges of staying financially solvent in a business where stores such as Safeway offer Organic produce at a competitive price and Huckleberries built its reputation on being a de facto Co-op. For the Moscow Co-op to remain in business it needs to carefully analyze its market and its product line to ensure our members receive high quality items at a reasonable price.

As a scientist I tend to focus on data, but as an old professor I am concerned for people, our members and our hard working staff. Decisions made at the Board level must ensure the long-term viability of the organization, but also must ensure that we provide a positive shopping experience for members and an enriching and rewarding professional experience for our staff. The next several years will be particularly challenging as the Board weighs the risks and benefits of expansion into Pullman, but also study space utilization within the Moscow store and the reality that limitations in behind the scenes spaces limits productivity and hence income.

I believe I have the ability to dig down in the weeds of data while not losing sight of the broader goals. Furthermore, I think it would be fun to serve the Co-op and the community in a new way.

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ashley hamlin

1. Personal skills and experience

I first fell in love with the Co-op in 2003 during a brief interlude in my life when I moved from my rural hometown in Western NC to live with people I’d never met in Moscow, ID.  The store felt comfortable, surrounding me with familiar natural food and holistic medicine with which I’d grown up.  Since moving back to Pullman 8 ½ years ago, the Co-op is my go-to store and I love being there! 

Growing up on a farm and among farmers, I’ve experienced firsthand what nutritious, sustainable food means to a family and to a community.  My family depended on it.  Homegrown vegetables were my first source of income.  I have a deep love and respect for this way of life.  In the last 8 years of living here, I have especially enjoyed talking with the local farmers, learning what I can about their methods and products and visiting and building relationships with some who serve this area.  Now as a mother I am committed to the health and well-being of my family through local and sustainable food. 

In the last 20 years, I have worked in business and education.  In business I coordinated many companies and substantial sums of money to accomplish common projects.  I made sure goals were completed to meet the financial, quality and time requirements for success.  I was considered for promotion before I decided to move on to graduate school.  In education, I served on the leadership team of a growing school spearheading the curriculum and vision of the school.  I traveled trans continentally attending many seminars and collaborating with many different educators. 

Traveling overseas I have lived and worked among refugees in Austria, orphans in Peru, low-income workers in Costa Rica and Mexico.  I’ve also studied in Eastern Germany, boarded in Moscow, Russia and traveled on my own through Italy.  Through these experiences, I have gained strength, respect for those different from myself and an ability to cross lines to build important relationships.  Here at home, I have fought fiercely for justice and equality for those close to me. 

2. Why I would like to serve on the Co-op Board

I would consider it an honor to serve on the Co-op Board of Directors as a way to give back to this community which has served my family so generously.  I feel I have organizational, leadership, and relational skills that would benefit the Board and I am committed to the vision of providing the best possible healthy and sustainable food for our community.  

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Tim kohler

1. Personal skills and experience

I have lived and worked in Pullman for almost 40 years. My wife, Marilyn Von Seggern, and I have enjoyed being members of the Coop for nearly that long. Having benefitted from the service of many others on the Board of Directors for all these years, late last summer I decided to apply for a vacant position on the Board and was appointed to serve in early Fall 2016. So for the past four months I’ve been learning much more about how the Coop operates.

I grew up in Davenport, Iowa, and in junior high school I began working in my father’s bakery, Dad’s Cookie Company. By the time I graduated from college I had worked every job in that bakery, including delivering bread and cookies to small country groceries throughout eastern Iowa and west-central Illinois. Although I’ve been a professor and archaeologist at WSU for my entire adult life, that early experience gave me a sense for what it takes to run a successful small business (and I learned a few things about baking as well!).

I have had two other experiences on boards. In the early 2000s I served a term on the Board of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse. Since 2009, as a founding member who co-wrote the grants that established it, I also serve on the Board of Directors of Digital Antiquity, a multi-institution not-for-profit dedicated to preserving archaeological research products and making them widely accessible, located at ASU in Tempe. I have no commercial interests or other activities that constitute a conflict of interest with serving on the Moscow Food Coop’s Board.

2. Why I would like to serve on the Co-op Board

As the only member of the current Board from Pullman, I’m a natural advocate for expansion to Pullman, while recognizing the necessity of keeping the Moscow store viable and energetic. I will also advocate for making the locations of Board and committee meetings responsive to the make-up of the membership, which suggests we should be having about a quarter of our meetings in Pullman.

As a believer in cooperative principles and values, as a Director I pledge to do my best to uphold the values, vision, and long-term viability of the Moscow Food Coop; to participate fully and actively in our policy governance system; and to listen to all owners as I attempt to represent their interests fairly. 

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carol mcfarland

1.  Personal skills and experience

My interest in food and farming germinated when I was very young. At the age of 12, I helped my grandfather sell vegetables at my hometown’s first Farmer’s Markets. It is no surprise that I was increasingly drawn to agriculture as a professional trajectory. While working my way through a B.S. in Agroecology from Montana State University; I scouted field crops, worked for the university’s Organic Farm/CSA, and in various research labs- on projects ranging from pollinators to water-conscious cropping systems.

Finished degree in hand, I headed to the country of Lesotho to serve with the U.S. Peace Corps, where I worked on Community Health and Economic Development projects, primarily with the UN World Food Programme. My favorites were: developing a maternal nutrition curriculum, supporting women’s small business, starting a Farmer’s Market, and establishing a beekeeping cooperative.

Acceptance to the Soil Science program at WSU, brought me to Pullman in 2013. (I became a member of the Moscow Food Coop within a week of arrival!) As a student at WSU, I further developed my project management, leadership, and collaboration skills during the completion of my thesis projects. My research emphasis was on the issue of soil acidity in the Palouse region. I took every opportunity to make our research relevant and accessible to local producers. Part of this effort resulted in collaboratively producing a set of extension publications; and with the support of WSU extension, I produced an award-winning video series on the topic. During my time at WSU, I also received a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture, and completed Tidal Leadership training. I am currently working part-time for WSU as a community assistant, and have been enjoying time at home with my new baby.

2. Why I would like to serve on the Co-op Board

My motivation both personally and professionally, is that you are what you eat. Agriculture touches every component of life, from public health, to social justice, and environmental stewardship. We are all eaters, and it is one of the most important things that we do. I am interested in joining the Co-op Board of Directors as a way serve a community that I care about. I am excited by the opportunity to participate in steering the vision of the Co-op into the future, in a way that members can continue to count on.  I see the Co-op as being an important place in the community, a place to find good food, good people, and good values. 

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kurt (sam) obermayr

1.  Personal skills and experience

I have had six years of experience working on the Moscow Food Co-op Board.  I know the governance procedures of the Co-op and have been through the ups and downs of working in this environment.  I think my experience will be valuable to the Co-op as we move forward.  I have been self-employed for 20+ years as a remodel renovation contractor. I have an approach that is practical, straightforward, and based on what functions best.

2. Why I would like to serve on the Co-op Board

There are many ongoing projects that I would like to see through to completion.  These are very exciting times and the future of our Co-op will be determined by how successful we are with the expansion projects, professionalizing our store while keeping our values, and facing increased competition from the Grocery Industry.  I want to be a part of our solutions.  The Co-op is best served by continuity on the Board, and loss of institutional memory can be harmful, especially when so many projects are in process.

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thank you to those who applied for

the Board's 2017 election!

The Board of Directors received 7 eligible applications for the upcoming March election, and there are 4 open seats. Candidate statements will be published by February 6th. Join us for a Candidate Forum on March 5th from 4-6pm in the Great Room of the 1912 Building and get to know your new slate of Board candidates! Voting will take place electronically from March 4th-March 12th, and election results will be announced March 13th. We are looking forward to a great election!

Update, February 1st, 2017: One candidate has withdrawn from the election. There are now a total of 6 candidates. 


2016 Board Election Results

March 13, 2016

The Moscow Food Co-op Board Elections Committee has verified the results of the 2016 Board of Directors election.

A total of 488 ballots were cast by Co-op owners over the course of the election, which ran from March 5th through 6 p.m. PST on March 13th. The Board election was conducted electronically for the second time in our history. The elections committee, which is composed of two Board members who are not up for election this year, one Co-op staff member, and one Participating Owner, worked with the Co-op’s Information Technology Manager to oversee the election process and ensure its integrity.

We have found the results to be as follows:

David Nelson
Yes: 415
No: 73
Elected to: 3-year term

Idgi Potter
Yes: 435
No: 53
Elected to: 3-year term

Laurene Sorensen
Yes: 413
No: 75
Elected to: 2-year term

Bill Beck
Yes: 405
No: 83
Bill Beck was disqualified as a candidate on March 12, 2016 due to violations of elections policy.

Effective at the April 12th Board of Directors meeting, David Nelson, Idgi Potter, and Laurene Sorensen will begin their terms on our Board. Due to previous resignations and appointments, the seats in this year’s election vary in their term durations to ensure that the three-year Board terms among the seven directors are staggered.

The electronic ballot process has internal safeguards to protect anonymity and prevent vote tampering. No one can enter the system and make changes without the system generating a detailed log report. The committee monitored log reports and is pleased to report that this election is valid, open, and fair. We would like to thank the candidates and all of the Moscow Food Co-op owners who participated in this democratic process.

If you have any questions about this election, please email boardelections@moscowfood.coop.

In cooperation,

Kurt Obermayr, Elections Committee Chair & Board Member
Colette DePhelps, Board Member
Joe Gilmore, Information Technology Manager
Melinda Schab, General Manager
Joan Rutkowski, Owner Engagement Coordinator
Toni Salerno, Participating Owner


For news related to the 2016 Board Election, please read here.