#01: Election of board members by SPI membership

John Goerzen jgoerzen at complete.org
Wed Mar 26 16:29:29 UTC 2003

On Wed, Mar 26, 2003 at 10:50:54AM -0500, David Graham wrote:
> >   After each annual election, the entire Board, including new members, shall
> >   pass a resolution appointing a secretary.  The Board may also pass a new
> >   resolution at any time selecting a new secretary.  The secretary selected
> >   must already be a non-officer member of the Board.
> >
> >   No single person may run for more than one seat in any given election.
> That's to say a board member who runs for treasurer will lose their board
> seat? We should make sure the scenario for sitting board members running
> for officers is clearly outlined.

No.  This is why my proposal separates the elections into two separate
phases -- one for the officers and one for the other board members.

A "regular" board member can run for treasurer in a year in which that
election is held.  That "regular" seat will not be up for election that
year, so it's not a problem.  If he loses in the treasurer election, he
continues as a regular member.  If he wins, he remains on the board (now as
treasurer) and the former seat becomes vacant and gets filled per the vacant
seat rules.

This rule basically says that nobody can run for both president and
treasurer at the same time.

The cumulative effect of this is that we don't have to engineer procedures
for when a single person wins more than one election, since that is never
possible with this system.

> Critically, this does not cover byelections. I think this is the
> appropriate place to discuss vacancies and bielections.

This comment ignored per your instructions :-)

> > >  1. I think two years is a reasonable compromise.  Board members currently
> > >     have a term of three years.  If we set everyone to a term of one year,
> > >     we'd either have all board members and officers up for election
> > >     simultaneously, or have to hold two elections each year.  I dislike both
> > >     of those options; the former because it leads to a lack of stability,
> > >     and the latter because it leads to a continuous campaign season.
> Stability, here, is a euphamism for the status quo. If the board is doing

I don't think so.  Obviously this is shaking things up significantly :-)

Here's my consideration:

 * I think that voting for officers and board members at once is too
   complex.  (See below for details)

 * Holding more than one significant board election per year leads to
   a continual campaign season, and a lack predictability.  Business
   slows because of the twice-yearly ramp-up period for new members.

 * Putting new members in each year lets the membership have a significant
   direct impact on the board annually.

 * Not replacing all Board members at once is good because of "instutitional
   memory" -- that is, if every seat turns over at once, there would be chaos
   because nobody would know what was going on, what the board was supposed
   to be doing, what issues were open, etc.

> its job, it will be reelected. If it's not, it won't be. The two elections
> you discuss can easily be a single election with two ballot questions,
> though...

The trouble here is that this gets to be extremely complicated.  We will
have a situation where the result of one question may impact the result for
another question, which I'm not convinced is a desirable thing.

Consider: if Joe runs for both treasurer and an "at-large" seat, and wins
both, he obviously can't have both.  Now we could say, "well, let Joe decide
which he wants."  Well, we'll have to have a procedure for that -- giving
Joe seven days to communicate a decision, etc.  Meanwhile, the election
results are held up.  If Joe chooses the treasurer position, then the next
person down on the regular seats would become a board member.  What if that
person also was the VP?  We have to do the resolution again.  It's a whole
quagmire, a complexity I'd rather see avoided.  I think that the results of
the election should be known immediately and be binding, without one
question impacting another.

> ... I don't necessarily think that someone who runs explicitly for
> president without running for the board as well will make a good
> president. In fact, it may be the opposite. Someone who runs for the job

Well, anyone running for president *is* running for the board as well, since
the president has a seat on the board, as do all the officers.

> of president may not be interested in sitting on the board in any other
> capacity and that isn't a quality I would necessarily want. On the flip
> side, as you point out, someone who runs for the board and becomes
> president may not want it or be unqualified to do it. I think it's for
> this reason that the by-laws currently allow the board to select its own
> leadership, because the board will have a better sense of the actual
> capabilities of its members than the general membership.

To me, that seems an argument in favor of the status quo :-)

My fear with this system is that we will get too politicized.  Board
candidates will group into parties, and will run on a platform of electing a
certain person president.  I think that members should be able to directly
elect their president.  The president is not merely the chair of the board
meetings; it's a position that goes well beyond the scope of the board
itself, and as such, I think it should be directly elected.  We could,
however, alter the bylaws so that the board chooses their own Chairman, who
need not be the same as the president.  Would that help you?

> Unless they lose their bid for an officer position, in which case they
> should be able to keep their seat. This is especially true if two
> candidates for treasurer are both on the board, one will necessarily lose
> and shouldn't be removed for the board for trying to run for treasurer.

I agree, and this is implicit in the proposal as above.

> Hierarchal election is the simplest way to fill multiple seats when there
> are no "ridings" to represent, though the member projects could arguably
> be considered ridings.

What is a "riding" and what do you mean by a "hierarchal election"?

> There may be contributing members willing to be secretary, and I see no
> reason why they couldn't be appointed by the board as an Advisor with the
> mandate/purpose of being secretary, without having a vote in its matters.

That makes sense to me.

> > >  7. This means that you can't run for both president and VP, and has no
> > >     other effect.  This means that we don't have to engineer a conflict
> > >     resolution mechanism in case someone wins both elections.  Also, I think
> > >     that candidates should focus on a particular election anyway.
> I assume you mean can't run for both president and treasurer.

Yes.  Mea culpa.

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