Member Owner News

2021 Board Elections: Candidate Statements

There are two positions open on the Board of Trustees. Two incumbent Board members and four owner-members are running for these two open positions. The information about all candidates and a ballot are included in this issue and are also available online.

Candidates were asked to address the following questions and to provide a candidate statement regarding their desire to serve:

  • Describe your previous experience serving on a board of trustees. Indicate the type(s) of board (governance, nonprofit, fundraising, etc.) and whether you held a leadership position.
  • What special skills/knowledge would you bring to the board? (Select all that apply: financial, legal, co-op, facilitation, Spanish language fluency, farming and food distribution, grocery, general management, other)
  • Describe any existing relationships you have with communities related to co-op, such as: farming-related, underserved communities, political governance, not-for-profits, compatible organizations, etc. 

When you cast your ballot for Board Members, please also vote to approve the changes to our Bylaws. The Board unanimously supports these changes. We strongly feel that these changes will allow us to be more transparent and inclusive, and provide more owner-members with a voice in the Co-op. Please note: if a ballot is returned without a vote either FOR or AGAINST these changes, we will assume that that is a vote FOR.

Incumbent Candidate: Brad Claypool

Brad Claypool headshot

Board Experience

  • Skagit Valley Food Co-op: Co-op Governance – 7+ years – Treasurer 6 years (current)
  • Middle Way Acupuncture Institute: Advisory Board (current)
  • Artist Trust – Non-profit Board of Directors – 6+ years – President 2 years
  • Artech Inc. – Corporate Governance – 12 years – President 12 years
  • Various Co-op & Condo Association Boards

Skills/Knowledge

  • Financial
  • Co-op
  • General Management

Existing Community Relationships

  • Volunteer for Meals on Wheels

Candidate Statement

I have been honored to serve on the Skagit Valley Food Co-op board since 2014. During the last few years I have been involved in developing the basics of our move towards Policy Governance and a new committee structure; our successful executive search – leading to hiring our new General Manager; developing a new, hopefully more inclusive process for bringing in new board members; and revising our Bylaws. I have served as Treasurer for the last six years.

The Co-op has faced many challenges in the last few years, including a change in operational management and the pandemic. Our financial health has limited the potential long-term impacts of the pandemic, and we have been able to invest in some long-overdue upgrades. I am especially mindful of our responsibility towards keeping our employees and our owner-members safe, while also helping the wider community through these times.

My background is well suited to this role. I had a successful 20+ year career in technology. In the late ‘90s, I left my position as a corporate senior manager to co-found an art gallery in Seattle. I was subsequently asked to lead a 30-year-old art services company back to financial stability. I served as CEO, managed all accounting, and was the “IT Guy” of this 60 person corporation for 12 years.

I am a life-long believer in the co-op model, and I truly appreciate the people and the work of this Co-op.  As members, we can all be proud of our ongoing success and our Co-op’s impact on the entire community through direct support of local non-profits, local producers, and educational programs.

I believe I have the skills to help the Co-op continue to thrive, grow, and positively impact the larger community. I hope you’ll take the time to vote, and I hope you’ll consider voting for me.

Incumbent Candidate: Tom Thiesen

Tom Thiesen headshot

Board Experience

I currently serve on two Boards; the Board of the Skagit Valley Food Coop and the Board of Skagit Council Housing. I have served on the Board of Skagit Valley Food Co-op for nearly twenty years, as President for at least the last ten. This Board is a Policy Governance Board. Skagit Council Housing; SCH is a non-profit Board which manages 106 units of low-income senior housing in Mount Vernon. I have served on this Board for over 20 years at all positions, currently as Vice President.

What special skills/knowledge would you bring to the board?

  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Co-op
  • Facilitation
  • Farming and Food
  • Grocery
  • General Management

Existing Community Relationships

See Board experiences above.

Candidate Statement

I graduated with a Master’s degree in Architecture from Montana State University in 1978. 31 of my 43 years as an architect have been in Mount Vernon managing my architectural firm and its wide variety of projects. Architects are by nature, education, and experience, problem solvers; analysis of needs, exploration of options, decision making, implementation. Along the way, one manages time, people, budgets, and performance. Consensus among partners is essential for success. These skills have proved valuable in the numerous remodeling projects over the years in the main building and the significant C-SQUARE project.

The combination of my architectural experience, my thirty one year Co-op membership, and my nearly 20 years as a Board member gives me valuable institutional knowledge of the site, the buildings, and the business.

Of course, it’s not all about the site, the buildings, or the “business.” It’s about food and community relationships. I was on the original committee that created 4% Friday that assists regional non-profits to be successful in their missions. To date, we have helped over a hundred non-profits with donations of $375,000.

As a type 1 diabetic, good nutrition is essential to my health and quality of life. My interest (ok, obsession) with food has expanded over the years from its nutritional value and where it comes from to, how it’s grown, how it’s handled both physically and socially, and does it represent best practices in environmentally sensitive and sustainable agriculture. Can we produce and package more of our own? What are other partnering opportunities with our abundant, local agricultural resources?

The Board has challenges ahead: COVID-19 recovery, maximizing the function, efficiency, and economics of our “campus”, maintaining a thriving store with a well-cared for staff, expanding our contribution to the security and availability of quality food and food related resources to name a few. I would be honored to have your vote to continue to serve.

Candidate: David Escobar

David Esocbar headshot

Board Experience

I currently serve on the Board of Directors as Vice President of the Washington Osteopathic Medical Association and on the Board of Trustees for the Washington Academy of Family Physicians.

Skills/Knowledge

  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Facilitation
  • Health Care and Nutrition

Existing Community Relationships

No previous experience other than being a member. But I look forward to learning more about sustainable farming, food security, and how community cooperatives play a role in such matters.

Candidate Statement

I have been a member of the Skagit Valley Food Co-op for several years now and have always enjoyed the benefits of such. As a local physician I have a growing interest in how access to whole, nutritious foods that are sustainably sourced impacts human health, and thus the health of our local communities. So often my conversations with patients in the community revolve around diet, nutrition, and proper access to food. What I have found is a lack of health and nutrition literacy writ-large, and I believe community co-ops like ours play a pivotal role in not only access to food, but food and farming education as well.

My expertise these past many years is in health care, but I also currently serve on a number of not-for-profit boards and have done so for many years. Additionally, I am working towards completion of Master’s Degrees in legal studies and dispute resolution with the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law; in the next couple of months, I will successfully complete a Master’s Degree in public health from the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences. I can bring expertise in health care, nutrition, public health, and legal knowledge and facilitation/mediation skills to the Board, as well as years of experience in various leadership positions.

I very much look forward to the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors for our Skagit Valley Food Co-op. The chance to serve is paramount, but I also anticipate learning much more about community co-ops, sustainable farming and ethical food sourcing. Thank you for considering my candidacy to serve.

Candidate: Michael Martucci

Michael Martucci headshot

Board Experience

This will be my first opportunity to serve on a board of trustees.

Skills/Knowledge

  • Legal
  • General Management
  • I bring my background legal training and professional experience as a litigation attorney to contribute to the Board’s work.

Existing Community Relationships

Through the LAW Advocates “Street Law” program, I volunteer my time to give pro bono legal advice to low-income individuals.

Candidate Statement

Serving on the Co-op board would be an opportunity to contribute to an organization and community that has nourished my family’s bodies and souls since moving to Mount Vernon six years ago. I, like many Northwesterners, am a transplant. Growing up in Philadelphia, food largely came from the “middle aisles” of large, chain grocery stores. Putting roots down in Mount Vernon coincided with discovering the Co-op and quickly led to a deep appreciation for the unique value it brought to our entire community. Through membership and purchases, the Co-op has become a forum for my family to promote concepts we are passionate about, including shopping locally, supporting non-profit partnerships, and cultivating respect and appreciation for the food we put in our bodies, as well as the land and people who produce it.

The recent birth of my son coupled with the overwhelming challenges brought by 2020 created a renewed sense of perspective and urgency to take action. The values and principles embodied by the Co-op are those I hope to preserve and pass on, making keen stewardship of this organization a future investment and a current imperative.

If elected to serve on the Board, I look forward to utilizing my legal training and professional experience as a litigation attorney to contribute to and advance the Co-op’s mission and vision. Fundamental to my work is the ability to listen carefully, think critically, communicate clearly, and keep an open mind to resolve problems. As a Board member, I will strive to help lead this organization in a way that is financially sustainable, environmentally sound, and responsive to input from employees as well as fellow member-owners. It would be an honor to offer all that I have to serve this community and keep the Co-op thriving for generations to come.

Candidate: Sonia Sahay

Sonia Sahay headshot

Board Experience

I was a member of the City of Issaquah Human Services Commission for a period of nearly a year and a half. This is an appointment made by the Mayor of the City. The commission plays an important role in studying issues and concerns in the human services area to ensure that the basic survival needs of Issaquah residents are met and that support systems are in place to help people through economic and personal crisis.

Skills/Knowledge

  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Facilitation
  • General Management

Existing Community Relationships

No existing relationships. But am a supporter and regular customer of Waxwing Farm right here in Mount Vernon.

Candidate Statement

Giving back to the community I live in is important to me. As a new Mount Vernon resident, the Co-op has played a huge role in us feeling at home here. It’s a gift to have local organizations like the SVFC whose values and objectives have much in common with mine. I’d like to find a way to use my skills and experiences to contribute and make a difference.

When serving on the Issaquah Human Services Commission, I actively participated in topics concerning human services planning and funding. I visited organizations that the City approved grants for; my area of focus was health – physical and mental health organizations. I learned and brought back inputs from site visits to organizations like NAMI, Crisis Connection, etc.

The second half focused on the grant cycle for the 2021-2022 grant allocations for five area goals: Food to Eat and Roof Overhead, Supportive Relationships within Families, Neighborhoods, and Communities, Safe Haven from All Forms of Viole

This involved deliberating with commission members on ~80 grant applications and deciding funding recommendations for the five goal areas. Reviewing the grant applications by area and balancing out the need and impact for the benefit of city residents took over tens of hours. In a year of stressed city budgets due to COVID-19 this was tough and involved multiple rounds of discussions across commission members and city staff to arrive at an appropriate recommendation to City Hall. My reason for sharing this is, I am not one to take on a commitment lightly and can be counted on to be a full participant.

I am currently employed full-time at Microsoft Corporation in Bellevue. I work on Mergers and Acquisitions and while I specialize in Sales & Marketing, I work every day with legal, financial, and general management matters.

Candidate: Paul Lin Satzinger

Paul Lin Satzinger headshot

Board Experience

Since 2018, I have been part of the leadership team at NOLS Pacific Northwest. As part of this team, I provide consultation and solutions for strategic initiatives, policy and procedural development, staff hiring and training, team building, and managing crises.

Skills/Knowledge

  • Financial
  • Facilitation
  • Language (Mandarin Chinese, Spanish)
  • Farming and Food Distribution
  • General Management

Existing Community Relationships

During the COVID-19 pandemic, NOLS Pacific Northwest did not operate. With the campus empty, I was able to partner with two organizations that could use the campus while NOLS was not. The first is Greenwood Tree Educational Cooperative (GWT). GWT is an educational program here in Skagit Valley. Through this partnership, GWT has been able to offer classes held at the NOLS outdoor campus for three of its classes.

The second is a new business called Rachael and Bread. Since NOLS was not using its commercial kitchen, I worked with Rachael on developing an equitable rental agreement to cover operating costs, but also allowed her to get her business off the ground. Rachael and Bread is now a growing business providing amazing fresh sourdough bread and baked goods in Skagit Valley.

Candidate Statement

My partner and I moved to Skagit Valley four years ago and were so warmly welcomed by the community here and continue to be awed by the richness of the area. I love this community and want to give back to it. Food warms my heart and soul, and I know it does so for many others. The Food Co-op is an amazing hub that provides food and resources for our community and I want to support it so that everyone in our community can be nourished in body, mind and soul.

I have a deep background in environmental education, business management, and community engagement. I currently work for NOLS Pacific Northwest as their Operations Manager. NOLS takes students of all ages and backgrounds on wilderness expeditions, and teaches leadership, environmental ethics, and backcountry living skills. I want to use my skills and experience to serve the Food Co-op as a Board Member and serve the community. Thank you for reading and for considering me for this position.

2021 Ballot
(click to download and print)

By: Co-op Staff

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