The Women's Professional Rodeo Association is in the midst of a special election following the reinstatement of an elected president within the association. 

The WPRA has been run by its board and an appointed CEO since 2018, when the role of an elected president was dismissed with much controversy. After a court battle, the role of president was reinstated as part of a settlement—forcing this year's special election. 

Two candidates emerged this week as frontrunners for the job after the WPRA's nomination process: Valley Mills, Texas' Jimmie Munroe, with 126 nominations, and Pleasanton, Texas' Jymmy Kay Cox, with 123.

While the president has traditionally served a longer term with the WPRA, this year's winner will only serve until January 2022. 

Both candidates have a long history with the association. 

Munroe, a ProRodeo Hall of Fame member and former barrel racing world champion, first went on the board in 1976 as the All Women's Rodeo Director and was the WPRA's president from 1978 to 1993. She came back on the board and served as president from 2012 to 2013. 

Cox came on as the Texas Circuit Director in 2001, then served as vice president and then president beginning in 2005 to 2008

Only 22% of eligible members voted during the nomination process for the presidency, and members must have their cards purchased by April 14 in order to vote in the actual election. Election ballots must be dropped in the mail by April 21, and the WPRA election auditor must receive them from votes in the mail or by fax by May 10, no later than 5 p.m. MST. 

"The leadership of the WPRA is just as important for ropers as it is for the barrel racers, and even more so now as we’re moving into ProRodeos because the WPRA president is ultimately the one dealing with the national sponsors and the PRCA," said WPRA Roping Director Jolee Jordan. "The president is who does the heavy lifting on that stuff. As the director, I’ve been in a lot of meetings, but the president carries the weight in those negotiations. So it’s really important the ropers pick somebody who’s a strong advocate for them. We have a great opportunity to shape the relationship with the PRCA going forward, and we need strong leadership to help us create that relationship to be a good one to where the members' voices are heard. Decisions will be made that will impact what they’re doing in the arena and they’ll have influence on those decisions."

The Breakaway Roping Journal spoke to both candidates for the job, and here is their take on how these elections will impact breakaway ropers and what breakaway ropers need to know about their positions and credentials going into the role.

Jimmie Gibbs Munroe Hereford Texas Calf Roping

Jimmie Munroe 

BRJ: Why should breakaway ropers care about this election?

JM: For the entire membership, and with the breakaway and the popularity, it’s phenomenal the way it’s growing. It reminds me of where the barrel race was 40 years ago. All of these committees are wanting to have it. The breakaway ropers are a very important part of the association and they will be a part of the circuit finals this year, and they’ll be at the National Circuit Finals, and they’ll be part of the Tour Finale in the fall, so they’ll have to be part of a number of the tour rodeos. So it should be important to them who their representatives are.

BRJ: What is your five-year vision for breakaway roping?

JM: I compare it to the barrel racing. The most important thing is to try to get it into all of these rodeos. In some circuits, breakaway is in more rodeos than others. It’s just like with the barrel race—it’s popular, so the main thing is to get it established, and you do that and you’re in the large percentage of the rodeos. Then you look toward equal money. In the next couple years, the breakaway roping will be part of the NFR. We’ve already said it will be a part of the Ram National Circuit Finals and the circuit finals and the Tour Finale at Salinas. That means it will be in the tour rodeos. 

The next step—and I know they had their event during the NFR—but within the next couple years, I see the breakaway as part of the NFR. Then you have some type of program where these committees work toward bringing equal purse money, similar to what happened with the barrel racing.

For reference, what we did for the barrel racing: we devised this plan in 1980 that we thought it was time, just like the breakaway, that we were part of the NFR and in a high percentage of PRCA rodeos because our expenses were the same as the other events and the cost of going down the road and traveling. We decided in 1980 that the following year, in 1981, we would ask all the committees to add 50% of what they did in the other events. It was amazing how many didn’t add that at that time. Then in 1981, we put together a plan that, in 1985—three years away—the committees had three years to bring their purses up to equal. In 1985, all committees would have to have equal money for the PRCA event that had the least amount of money. It was quite a stand that the board took, but they didn’t just sit back, and that has to happen again. 

The board worked with these committees. The circuit directors worked with all of these committees, especially ones that they felt like there would be a problem. It was really hands on. They spent time working with the committees. That’s the reason it was the success it was and turned out the way it did. 

It could have been bad for the association. I think we maybe lost one or two rodeos; very few over the equal money. It was the larger committees who had the most purse money they had to come up with. The Houstons, the San Antones, but we worked with those committees. It was such a blessing when Wanda Bush came back on the board because she knew a lot of people. The committees had so much respect for her, so visiting with those committees, when it came around to 1985, we lost very few and the rodeos that they did lose came back within a couple years. 

One rodeo we lost, which was a hard decision to make, was Cheyenne. They just had the barrel race on Sunday there, and they’d run a complete round and take the top 12 to the finals in the performance the same day. We understood it was hard to justify giving the money when it was just one day. But we didn’t want to approve them for less than equal to set a precedent. We made that clear to them, and within two years they came back and had the barrel race in all the performances and had equal money. A lot of the reason we were successful was the way it was handled. I was proud to be on that board and serve the directors as president then.

Jymmy Kay Cox

Jymmy Kay Cox

BRJ: Why should breakaway ropers care about this election?

JKC: We’re on the bubble. We finally got our foot in the door of the big arena. We’ve been trying to do that—gosh I remember back in the late '90s and we were advocating to get breakaway ropers into ProRodeo—and it was so hard. Now that The American showcased what a popular event it is, everybody loves a winner and it's shown breakaway is a winner. Membership needs to get involved in how the association manages our breakaway business—and the tie-down ropers and the team ropers, too. We need someone who is a fan of the breakaway and can stand up and protect its business opportunities. We don’t need to be giving anything away, and we need someone who will stand up for the business interests.

BRJ: What is your five-year vision for breakaway roping?

JKC: I’d love to see the breakaway ropers at the NFR, at every circuit finals and every Ram National Finals. I want to see the breakaway in the performance. We’re a quick event. Fans understand it. It’s a popular sport with fans, and it’s easy to follow and it’s fast-paced. It’s proven to be worth its weight in a larger venue.

Whoever takes the position at the head of the table now needs to do so with democracy and moving forward for what’s best for the entire industry. We have to protect our business interests because we have a viable product. I don’t want—the Lari Dees and the JJs who have been trying to promote this sport for decades—now that they have, let’s not silence their voice or minimize their exposure. 

In 1948, when our association was founded, it wasn’t a bunch of barrel racers—it was a bunch of cowgirls and horsewomen and ranching daughters, and mothers and wives. Why would we be anything less than united as a group of women fighting for each other’s rights in each other's events? There’s room for all of us. We aren’t even talking about the team roping enough. Let’s fix that. Let's talk about all of our events and push everything forward. BRJ

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