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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Rumor: Only one candidate for UUA president in '09?

Daniel O'Connell, the first blogger focused entirely on UUA politics, says only one candidate appears to have emerged from the early back-channel precandidating period of discernment for the 2009 UUA presidential race. (I interpret this to mean the period of rounding up major donors and support from key power-brokers in the Association.) Scott Wells follows up by reading between the lines of Daniel's post.

A bit of context for new denominational politics watchers: President William Sinkford's second and final term ends in June 2009, when the General Assembly will elect his successor. Individuals can declare their candidacy for president as late as February 1, 2009, but the Nominating Committee will introduce a slate of candidates to the June 2008 General Assembly. Candidates are not allowed to conduct public meetings or openly declare their intentions until January 1, 2008. People seriously interested in running will want to contact UUA Secretary Paul Rickter, the liaison between candidates and the elections process.

Uncontested elections are becoming more common in the UUA: At the upcoming General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, for example, no race is contested [pdf]. In 2005, there were contested races only for the General Assembly Planning Committee and the Commission on Social Witness. Would-be reformers take note: You want to befriend the Nominating Committee. Viva la fifth Principle!

Last year, I wondered how the Web might factor into the 2009 race, but if we really get a one-candidate race, who cares?

(Disclosure: Once real campaigning begins, I won't be able to comment on the races because I'm a UUA employee. Until then, commenting on the process itself strikes me as fair.)

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 14 April 2007 at 8:54 AM

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Donald O'Bloggin:

April 15, 2007 12:01 AM | Permalink for this comment

Since when does the NomCom get to select for President?

Section 9.2 of the UUA bylaws

The Nominating Committee shall submit one or more nominations for each elective position at large to be filled, except Moderator and President,...


April 15, 2007 08:04 AM | Permalink for this comment

Sorry for the confusion! I meant to point out that people who want to get spots on other elected committees should get to know the Nominating Committee.


April 16, 2007 10:08 PM | Permalink for this comment

Donald, it may be that the Nominating Committee doesn't propose candidates for president and moderator, but the slate of candidates offered to the General Assembly does show these candidates as "nominated." (See the 2005 slate, for example.) I'm not entirely sure what this means.


April 17, 2007 10:00 AM | Permalink for this comment

Gini Courter's March 22, 2007, cover letter to the Board of Trustees includes these paragraphs [pdf] about the 2009 election and policies and bylaws related to the election of the UUA's top officers:

Earlier today I met with Bill Sinkford, and our wide-ranging conversation included a discussion of Association leadership, the democratic process, and where the two intersect or fail to. At the January Board meeting Bill reminded the Board that he has been advocating for a change in the nomination process for UUA President since his first meeting with the UUA Board after his election as President. I suggested changes in the Moderator nomination process at my first Board meeting as Moderator in January 2004

We see many shortcomings in our current process, but two seem most critical. First, the current process does not insure a conversation about the issues we need to deal with as a faith community. A variety of views should be present in the conversation so that our community can select a direction. Second, our current process makes it impossible for too many of our best, most experienced leaders to even consider offering their skills for these most senior leadership positions. For example, the demands of campaigning mean that the typical solo parish minister cannot run. And the current expectations of the Moderator mean that few leaders can consider running for the position unless they are wealthy or retired (if both wealthy and retired, better yet).

We believe that Unitarian Universalism can do better, be fairer, and be more consistent with our principles. We also believe that addressing these issues should be the Board of Trustees to do.

I join Bill in strongly encouraging the Board to commit to review the current process and practices related to the nomination of candidates for President and Moderator in the 2007-2008 year. The goal: to recommend new nomination processes that better reflect Unitarian Universalist values for discussion by the delegates at the 2008 General Assembly. Bill and I look forward to participating in this conversation with the Board, and would be delighted to begin this discussion at the April board meeting. Just ask.

(UUA Board packet, April 2007)

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