2024 Board Candidate Bios + Ballot

cook county coop board candidates

1 ballot = 3 candidate votes  // download the ballot 

Democracy is at the heart of the co-op’s organizational structure and values.

There are 3 open board seats this year and 3 candidates. Each owner household gets to cast one ballot, voting for their top choices to fill the open board seats.

Vote now through October 10 at 7pm (when the co-op closes). New board members will be announced at our Annual Meeting + Owner party on October 11. 

Vote by dropping your ballot:
– at the Co-op
by email
– in the mail (PO Box 813, Grand Marais, MN 55604)

We will mail this ballot to all of our U.S. and Canadian owners. If you don’t get yours, please let us know so we can check the address we have on file.

Rocio Rivas – Incumbent

With the decision to establish roots at the North Shore, the need to be involved in community well-being grows. I have been honored to serve as an Interim Board Director and have already started the training process, visualizing how my role as a Food Scientist and Engineer can help the Co-op.

I resonate with cooperative principles. Part of my research focused on the linkages among Food, Nutrition, and Health. I am keen to promote a healthy environment of collaborative communication and create a welcoming and affordable place for the community.

My commitment to helping enrich this beautiful place makes me a great candidate for the Board of Directors.


Elunia Steckelberg – Candidate

Hi, my name is Elunia Steckelberg and I have lived in Grand Marais for a little over 8 years. I’ve been a member of our great Co-op this entire time and believe it is a well stocked, well run, and community-minded co-op. I would like to serve on the Board of Directors because I believe in serving and giving back to the community I live in. I also believe in the co-op’s principles and vision statement and would really enjoy representing my fellow co-op members in making decisions for the co-op’s current policies and future growth.

One of my interests that would lend well to serving on the board is that I’ve been gardening every summer since 2020 and have learned about growing, harvesting and processing lots of different vegetables – I couldn’t do it all without the help of my husband. This hobby helps me to appreciate the time, effort and collaboration it takes to procure good food.

My top two business skills I would bring to the board:
– My analytical mindset and way of thinking to gather, understand and interpret information so that I can provide well-informed thoughts and opinions with regards to operations and future growth of the co-op.
– My process-oriented and organized way of going about my professional work as a self-employed physical therapist. I have developed structured processes for gathering information and keep good records for myself so that I can track progress as well as continually have a plan for facilitating future progress toward a client’s goals. I’m often improving on the processes to make things more efficient and productive. This skill would translate well to helping the co-op to keep progressing toward future goals.

I will be able to commit the recommended 8-10 hours or so per month to BOD duties. If more is needed on occasion, I will also be able to make that commitment, as well.

I think the most important role of a director is to represent co-op member’s opinions, visions and values and to bring forth any member’s ideas and/or concerns to the board, so that they can be reported and dealt with with in a fair and democratic manner. It’s also important for a director to cooperatively share their views on co-op goals and directives, as well as to listen and understand other directors’ thoughts. I think that the most important role of the board is to adhere to the values and vision of the co-op while determining and following through with implementation of goals. It is also important for the board to keep the member’s and the larger community’s best interests in mind.

My vision for the Cook County Whole Foods Co-op is to continue growing at a reasonable rate to meet the community’s growing needs, and simply to keep providing good food and products at an affordable price so that all people in the community could eat well and be well. I’d like to see if we could reach a broader base of regular co-op shoppers. There are people that maybe don’t even consider the co-op because of the assumption that the food is much too expensive, and that’s far from the truth!


Neil Pederson – Candidate

Hello! Our co-op is a community center, a visionary providing healthy, delicious food, and a leader in sustainable business practices. I want to serve on the Board of Directors to help lead the way in growing the Co-op’s values and end goals. 

I am excited to support our general manager to build and improve our co-op. This means working together to ensure our co-op stays trusted, affordable, a great place to work, and a supporter of local growers. 

In my own life, I have a passion for sustainable food practices. I shop at the co-op, I garden and raise animals, and I seek to eliminate plastic use. My background as a general manager of a restaurant, employee at a small grocer, and as an attorney, together, will help me to understand the needs of the Co-op and its owners. 

I am passionate and ready to serve on the Co-op’s Board of Directors. Thank you!