#01: Election of board members by SPI membership

John Goerzen jgoerzen at complete.org
Wed Mar 12 14:43:29 UTC 2003

[ my chairman hat is NOT on for these comments ]

On Tue, Mar 11, 2003 at 11:10:59PM -0700, Bdale Garbee wrote:
> the board, and then have the board elect officers.  In fact, I'm not sure they
> even require that the officers be members of the board.  The officers need to

That makes some sense, too.

I see a lot of good ideas floating around.  I think we have several separate
questions to answer.  Let's try to take them in order so we can more
efficiently frame our discussion.  The questions we need to answer are: 1)
do all board members get elected at the same time; 2) length of terms for
board members; 3) bootstrapping; 4) determination of the size of the board;
5) provisions for interim elections (if a member steps down or is recalled
in the middle of a term); 6) selection of officers (that can come later --
we have a separate topic for it)

So, for #1, our options are:
 1. All board members up for election at once; top n winners get seats.

 2. Board is split into separate "seats".  Each seat has a given expiry
    date.  Half, a third (or whatever) expire for each election cycle.
    Those that expire are up for re-election, and top n winners get
    the open seats.

 3. Board is split into separate "seats", with expiration times based on
    length of service for current members.

My comments on these options:
 1. To be effective, length of terms will have to be shorter than they are
    now (they're three years at present).  I'm not sure if one year is the
    right number for this; presumably the three year value was to grant
    a sense of stability to the board.  As the board is more an
    administrative than a political role, I don't see this as a big problem,
    especially given greater recall powers.

 2. A problem raised with this is getting rid of inactive members quickly.
    Again, I think we need a separate mechanism to deal with that.  Even
    with annual elections, inactive members could hobble the board for
    the greater part of a year.

    I personally favor this option.  I'd like to see half the seats up for
    re-election each year.  The benefits are that the membership will be
    able to directly appoint half of the board each year -- enough to have
    a major impact -- and yet there remains a stability because not all
    seats will be open for election.  The board gets to hear the voice of
    the membership loud and clear on a more frequent basis than elections
    every other year.

 3. I think this leads to greater confusion, without the benefits of
    #2.  #2 strikes a nice balance between stability and reform.

I support elections annually.  I do not support any mechanism that holds
elections more frequently or less frequently than that.  I think more
frequent elections leads to a continual campaign season, and less frequent
elections leads to reduced accountability and sense of ownership among the

-- John

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