San Mateo Irrigation Association Bylaws Meeting -Photo taken by Serafina Lombardi
By Olivia Romo, NMAA Staff
As we enter the holiday season to enjoy all the wonderful food of the cosecha, acequieros continue to work hard preparing for their annual meetings in the off season.
The Fall and Winter seasons are, for many acequias, the time of year for their annual membership meetings. Although state law only requires a meeting every other year, most acequias meet annually. State statutes also specify that biennial meetings should take place on the first Monday either in October or December, or as soon as practicable thereafter, depending on whether your acequia is located in a county covered by Article 2 or Article 3 of Chapter 73. (Contact NMAA for more information about which article applies to your acequia.) Many acequias have already conducted their annual meetings, are preparing for the first Monday in December, or planning to have their meeting in the spring. If your acequia is preparing for your annual meeting and elections, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Acequia officers are elected to two year terms and elections are generally held at the annual meeting of the acequia. The election for acequia officers is conducted by the sitting commissioners. Only those members who own land with water rights served by the acequia and are not delinquent in in the payment of their assessments should be allowed to vote. State law allows proxy voting for parciantes who are not able to vote in person. The NMAA Governance Handbook has useful information to assist you in carefully administering proxy votes.
Las Nueve del Rio Grande Acequia Association Annual Meeting -Photo taken by Serafina Lombardi, NMAA Staff
Voting on any matter of the acequia requires a quorum as defined in the bylaws and this applies to elections as well. The election should be clearly identified on the agenda which was posted in advance of the meeting. When the chair has reached the agenda item for elections, he or she will generally officiate the election and vacate the expired terms. At that point, nominations of officers will begin in accordance to the acequias historical governing practices and current bylaws. Nominations can be made by any parciante and can be conducted separately or at large. Some acequias hold elections for all three commissioners in the same election and other acequias hold elections every year and stagger the terms of the commissioners.
Besides elections, there are other times when officer positions need to be filled. A common question is, "What does the association do if a commissioner steps down or can no longer fill their position?" In the event of one or more vacancies in the office of Commissioner or the Mayordomo, the remaining Commissioners shall appoint someone to hold office for the remainder of the term until his/her successor is elected at a meeting of the membership.
The NM Acequia Association understands the complexities and challenges that face acequias today and how it is increasingly difficult to find parciantes who are available to serve as commissioners or mayordoma/os. This is why at the NMAA we are working with commissioners to train, inspire, and educate all parciantes toward becoming future leaders and water protectors, especially our youth.
If you have any more questions about preparing for your annual acequia meeting or conducting elections, please contact Olivia Romo, NMAA Staff at 505-995-9644 or Olivia@lasacequias.org