Bateman announces WSTE board candidacy

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Citing his extensive electric cooperative experience and his lifelong commitment to his community, Franklinton resident Bob Bateman recently announced his candidacy for the board of directors of Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative.

Bateman began his electric co-op career as a meter reader and served in various capacities before advancing to the level of vice president 20 years later. He left the electric utility industry and later joined the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, applying his knowledge and skill as a disaster recovery specialist. Four years later, Bateman opened a private consulting business, specializing in assisting communities and businesses in disaster recovery.

Bateman has held just about every type of job that exists at an electric cooperative everything from line work, to customer service, to upper management — Bateman said the experiences will be invaluable at the board table. Bateman noted that, if elected, he would be the only sitting board member with the kind of wide ranging electric cooperative experience he would bring to the position.

He said that with any democratically controlled, member-owned cooperative, the member always comes first.

“The member has a unique role — unlike investor-owned, profit-driven utilities —— where they truly have a voice, including the right and the opportunity to vote for their board representative,” Bateman said. “I feel that with the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated over the past 20 years, I would be a very effective board representative to make sure the members have a strong voice and an effective advocate seated at the board table.

“My intention is to be open-minded, fair and judicious when addressing all matters that come before the board, and ultimately to do what’s best for consumers.”

He outlined some of his long list of accomplishments while serving the members at WSTE, including implementing the Teacher Mini-Grant Program to provide support for classroom teachers, the Student Scholarship Program to provide funds for college education for local students, and the Electrical Safety Demonstration Program, which brought safety information to thousands of fifth-grade students over the years.

But Bateman noted the primary focus of the cooperative is to provide safe, affordable, reliable electricity to its members. He was part of the WSTE management team that implemented extensive, technologically advanced system improvements to enhance reliability and negotiated a long-term power supply agreement that resulted in WSTE members enjoying the lowest rates in the area for more than a decade.

“Members are rightly concerned about rates. I pay the same price for power that every other member pays,” he said. “I was proud to be part of the team that made low rates a reality for WSTE members and literally put thousands of dollars into the pockets of co-op members for more than 10 years, and as a member of the board I’ll certainly use my experience in the electric utility industry to make sure we do everything we can to make sure rates remain low for the benefit of families and business right here in our community.”

Having achieved more than 30 electric utility-related and disaster recovery certifications, Bateman also lists the following previous and current affiliations: Chamber of Commerce, local 4-H club, Junior Livestock Association, president of the Louisiana Member Services Association, Governor’s Rural Economic Development Committee, Zachary Taylor Parkway Commission, Franklinton Lodge #101, president of the Franklinton Lions Club, Coastal Conservation Association, Statewide Safety Committee and the National Emergency Response Committee.

Bateman, the son of the late Rufus and Audrey Bateman, attended Franklinton High School and Southeastern Louisiana University where he majored in business agriculture. He and his wife of 43 years, Carol Jones Bateman, have one son, Barrett, a schoolteacher.

“Please watch for your ballot that will arrive in the mail the week of April 11 and remember that regardless of the parish you live in you are entitled to vote,” Bateman said. “This is an at-large election.”