Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A New Way to Elect President?

On the Election-L list through the UUA, a conversation began yesterday, prompted by Mike Durall, about a different way to select a UUA President.

Come to find out, there's already a proposal to do just that. I missed this -- was there much talk in the blogosphere about it? If so, I was out to lunch.

Under the proposed changes to the elections process, the UUA would establish a Presidential Search Committee, which would choose two candidates for the presidency. The search committee would consist of seven members, with five elected by the General Assembly, one appointed by the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, and one appointed by the Board of Trustees.

The search committee would become the UUA’s sixth standing committee, alongside the Nominating Committee, the General Assembly Planning Committee, the Commission on Appraisal, the Commission on Social Witness, and the Board of Review.

Other individuals could run for the presidency by petition.

Tamara Payne-Alex, trustee-at-large from San Jose, Calif., chaired the working group that wrote the proposed changes. “Congregations are not present in the current process,” she said, because self-selected presidential candidates begin the process of seeking endorsements and fund-raising largely behind the scenes. “Congregations find out who the candidates are only after the slate has been presented. We wanted to make it more like a ministerial search process. We want to use this as an opportunity to energize and engage the electorate.”

... Under the new bylaws, the president’s and moderator’s terms would be shortened from a maximum of eight years (two four-year terms) to one six-year term.

I realize a whole lot of the blogger folks are at General Assembly, but I'll ask anyway: Thoughts?

Of course, this is just about the nomination process. The process of running for office, the money involved, the travel ... that's a whole other question.


Bill Baar said...

I'm not much for appointed committees selecting the candidates.

Kari said...

I haven't given the election a whole lot of thought, probably because I can't vote. (I have been surprised how much pressure my son--youth caucus FUNTIMES Sr. Manager, is getting to endorse, though) But I am thrilled to belong to a faith community who gives such careful consideration to how we govern ourselves.

Ms. Theologian said...

Yeah, the committee doing the major selecting sort of scares me a bit. That's a lot of power. Not that I'm a member of a UU congregation, mind you.

UU World said...

See UU World's news coverage of the board proposal to change the way the UUA president and moderator are elected:"Board proposes changes to UUA elections" (April 27, 2009)

Steve Caldwell said...

This wasn't something that was covertly brought into UUism -- there's a long article about it on the UU World web site.

I posted a link and a short excerpt of the article on the Election-L email list yesterday.

There is plenty of UUA "open source intelligence" out there for the harvesting. But a lot of folks like Mike Durrell overlook this information.

Lizard Eater said...

I didn't think there was anything covert about it, and I know there's a UU World article -- I linked to it in my original post.

I *was* surprised that there wasn't much buzz about it in the blogosphere. Assuming there wasn't. As I mentioned, there might have been and I just missed it.

Steve Caldwell said...

I'm guessing that the UUA Presidential Race and the Article II revision are the current denominational concerns. This story has been out for two months and there's been very little comment on it.

The proposed election changes won't be on the GA agenda until 2010.

That's probably why folks have written too much about it.

FWIW, I mentioned the news story in my June denominational affairs report for our board and council. No one locally has commented about this change either. Perhaps the UUA President selection process and 25 Beacon Street are just too far removed from the day-to-day concerns that our local folks think about.

Lizard Eater said...

Yeah, Steve, I'm not surprised about the local folks not caring. At my church and most of the small churches I visit, the UUA is where you order bookmarks and hymnals. Election? Policy Governance? The eyes glaze over. Their concerns are how to pay the light bill and find decent speakers for pulpit supply.

kim said...

As I understand it, only part of the committee is selected: part is elected.