State Regulators and Credit Union Oversight

Who do members turn to when they believe their credit union is not responsive to requests for greater transparency or accountability?  These situations can arise around bylaw interpretation, board oversight, and election conduct.

Following are two examples of members’ interacting with their state regulator when they believe accountability is lacking in credit union conduct.

A Live Hearing-NOW

The first is a hearing of the North Carolina Credit Union Commission at 10:00 AM EDT today.  Several members have sought clarification of the regulator’s approval for bylaw changes, especially those that affect the board election process.  The toll free call in number is 1 (984)-204-1487.  The access code757767261#.

There are thirteen items on the agenda, but the primary one is an update by the state administrator, Kristina Ray, on all areas of her responsibility.   The ability to listen to a live state update is an important opportunity not just for North Carolina charters, but for all credit unions who are interested in the state and federal oversight process.

A Member Complains- the Regulator Responds

A reader sent me a March 18, 2024 article form the Lost Coast Outpost titled:

Coast Central Credit Union Releases Vote Counts From Recent Board Elections Following Complaint to State Regulators

The story is a press release from one of the candidates for Coast Central’s board.  She filed a complaint with the California Department of Financial protection over the credit union’s failure to release vote tallies for the 2024 board elections.

As a result the credit union posted the vote totals for all candidates for the most recen two years with the Chairman’s reply:

In response to members requests at the annual meeting and in the spirit of enhanced transparency and goodwill, we have taken the additional step of posting the vote totals from the previous year on our website. We hope this action demonstrates our commitment to transparency and our dedication to addressing the concerns of our members.”

Prior requests to the CEO for details of the vote had been turned down.

The complaint was filed by Carrie Peyton-Dahlberg who wrote the press release for the local paper.   The posted results showed she had come in fifth place just 172 votes behind the fourth place elected candidate in the 2024 election:

  • Matt Wakefield: 1,641 votes (73.1%), elected to a 3-year term
  • Terry Anne Meierding: 1,600 votes (71.3%), elected to a 3-year term
  • Ron Rudebock: 1,520 votes (67.7%), elected to a 3-year term
  • Dane Valadao: 1,346 votes (60.0%), elected to a 1-year term for the remainder of a 2023 retiree’s term
  • Carrie Peyton-Dahlberg: 1,174 votes (52.3%), not elected

In her commentary “she urged Coast Central member-owners to use their comment cards to ask for further progress, such as publicly announcing board vacancies, revising board election rules so they don’t hinder election outreach, and changing the board appointment process so that future vacancies can be filled in a way that is more representative of community demographics.”

“Coast Central is moving in a good direction, including releasing these numbers, putting 2024 election reminders in each branch and making sure that its ballots were sent in clearly labeled envelopes. All of these are big improvements over the January 2023 election, and I hope this is starting a new trend.”

 “Bit by bit, if member-owners stay involved, we can encourage Coast Central to move further down this path of listening to the people who own it.” 

Democracy Takes Work

Releasing the actual votes in a member election would seem to be a fundamental requirement, a no-brainer.   The California regulator seems to agree that members are entitled to know the actual votes cast in an election.  That may seem like a small step,  but is still not followed in all credit union merger and board elections-whether for state or federal charters.

This California precedent matters.   Democracy can be a contagious activity.   It is also a participant activity, not a spectator sport.  Carrie Peyton-Dahlberg has done every member-owner a service by raising this issue of election transparency in her credit union.  Hopefully, all regulators will soon see this fundamental accountability for a democratic process the same way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *