Randy Joseph has a long row to hoe in his bid to unseat Ralph Ward from the board of directors of the Oregon Trail Electric Co-operative.

For starters, the board election seems to fly under the radar of most OTEC customers. This year, it's competing with a crowded primary election ballot.

To appear on the ballot, Joseph had to round up 250 valid signatures discovering in the process that not everyone is an eligible elector in the OTEC election.

Now he's one of three non-incumbents, a list of candidates that could split the vote for a new director.

And to top it all off, you have to pity the guy running against an Oregon Trail Electric Co-operative board incumbent who just gave consumers a 16 percent rate reduction.

That's exactly what Ward and his colleagues did with some of the $9 million in savings realized by the expiration of a less-than-favorable power contract inherited from CP National, the co-op's private forerunner. Buying power from a Prairie City co-gen plant was that much more expensive than buying from Bonneville Power Administration.

But Joseph is running, and he offers voters an alternative.

He's the guy who volunteered to chair the county's power generation task force and has pushed to turn Mason Dam into a hydroelectric generator.

He helped put together a forum on renewable energy, including biomass, a means for putting forest waste wood to work generating power.

He got someone from Siemens to drop in at a Baker School District 5J meeting to talk about the Fuels for Schools program.

He's looked into how garbage could be converted into energy instead of dumped in a landfill.

So the challenge to OTEC voters is this:

If you look ahead and like the course the board is setting for OTEC and your future power needs, you should vote for Ward.

If you think OTEC needs a course correction or at least someone tugging the rudder in new directions you should vote for Joseph.

Regardless, you should resolve to take a look at the candidates and return your OTEC ballot by April 29.