Notes about the UUA Presidential Election & Candidate Visit!
Posted by Rev Roger
Posted on August 25, 2016
In a Q & A format, this posting describes the upcoming election (in June of 2017) of the next president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.
This includes how we at UUSS may play a part in the democratic process, who is running for the office, and what the job description is.
If you will be meeting Susan Frederick-Gray this Sunday, you may wish to read the job description, since the president has a specific role. Let me know if you have questions, clarifications or suggestions. I hope to see you Sunday!
WHAT IS THE JOB OF UUA PRESIDENT?
Read the current job description for the UUA President:
HOW DO THE CONGREGATIONS ELECT A UUA PRESIDENT?
Every congregation has a certain number of delegate slots based on the number of certified members. UUSS has 8 votes. In addition, both Rev. Lucy and Rev. Roger have a vote as ministers currently serving a congregation. Delegates need not be present at the General Assembly (in June 2017 in New Orleans) to vote. Congregations and ministers may cast their votes by absentee ballot.
HOW DO WE DECIDE TO VOTE AS A CONGREGATION?
Different congregations decide how to use their lay delegate votes, such as having a board or congregational vote to direct how the votes will be cast, or having a vote on choosing which members get to serve as a voting delegate, or both. UUSS has no specific policy or bylaw that describes how to cast the ballots for a UUA election or how to select delegates for GA. Some congregations will ask all the members to consider the candidates and vote at a congregational meeting. (And the vote would need to be for 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice, since the GA vote uses instant-runoff voting.) The results of the congregational vote would be used to direct delegates to GA on our voting preferences and/or to mark the absentee ballots mailed in before GA.
WHAT ARE THE TERM OF OFFICE OF A UUA PRESIDENT?
A few years ago, delegates to General Assembly voted to make revisions to the election process and the position of President, who is the chief executive and the public face and prophetic voice of the UUA.
The next UUA president will be elected to serve one term of 6 years. Previous presidents were elected for term of 4 years, and could serve two terms. In the past 55 years, most of the UUA presidents (except one who died) were re=elected with little or no opposition and served for 8 years.
HOW DOES A PERSON BECOME A CANDIDATE FOR UUA PRESIDENT?
Another change for this election is that there is a Presidential Nominating Committee, which had requirements of written materials by the candidate, professional references, and in-person interviews. Several people with significant skills and experience did interview but not all were nominated. In February of 2016, two people were nominated. Shortly afterwards, one of them dropped out of the race. The nominating committee then called Susan Frederick-Gray and asked her to run (since the had interviewed her earlier.) Technically it was too late for the committee nomination, so they asked her to get on the ballot by petition with their support and the support of the UUA Board’s Moderator. Susan was qualified for the ballot. A few months later, a third candidate filed a petition to run and is now also on the ballot.
WITH 3 CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT, HOW DOES VOTING WORK?
The UUA uses instant-runoff voting. This means that every ballot will ask us to vote for our 1st choice, 2nd choice and 3rd choice among the three candidates. If none of them gets at least 50% of the voting in the first round, then the one with the fewest 1st choice votes will be eliminated. Then the 2nd choice votes by the people who voted for her will be tallied. The one with the most 1st and 2nd choice votes will be the winner.
WHAT IS INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING?
You may wish to ask our member Pete Martineau, but this is my understanding. Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is used in European countries and in a growing number of places in the USA. The lack of IRV at the level of US elections decreases diversity by making it hard for third-party candidates to get votes. If we could vote for our1st choice and our 2nd choice, those who like minor-party platforms or candidates could vote for them but still have a 2nd choice vote if our candidate is eliminated.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO RUN FOR UUA PRESIDENT?
It’s so expensive that a recent General Assembly voted to set campaign spending and donation limits. Individual donations are limited to $5,000 per campaign, and a campaign may not receive or spend more than $100,000 in monetary donations.
WOW! That money goes for plane tickets, rental cars, hotel rooms and other costs in order to go around the country speaking at forums and congregations and otherwise meeting UU lay leaders and ministers. It pays for campaign buttons, brochures, tee shirts, graphics and websites. It pays for pizza for campaign team strategy sessions and for the candidate’s lodging during GA (in 2016 and 2017). It pays for the campaign’s booth in the exhibit hall at General Assembly. Fortunately, there are no TV or radio ads necessary, but there is a robust presence in UU World magazine ads and on Facebook, Twitter and who knows what!
THREE WOMEN RUNNING! IS THAT A FIRST?
In almost every contested UUA presidential election since 1985 there was one woman and one man. The men have always won the vote. To my knowledge, there were no women heads of either of the two denominations before the UUA consolidation (i.e., Universalist Church in America and American Unitarian Association). All three candidates standing for election in June 0f 2017 identify as women!
All three candidates have made a covenant with one another for how they will conduct themselves. It is brief and I find it very moving. See their covenant here: http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/elections/president/candidate-covenant
WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES?
Three parish ministers: Susan Frederick-Gray, Alison Miller and Jean Pupke. All have diverse backgrounds and gifts. Learn about each of the candidates and see a video of their forum at the 2016 GA at this link: http://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/elections/president. To see all three in person, mark your calendar for a district-wide forum on May 6 at Mount Diablo UU Church (another campaign travel expense for the candidates)!
WHICH CANDIDATE HAS THE SUPPORT OF ROGER JONES, LUCY BUNCH, KEITH ATWATER, BETH BANKS, DARCY BAXTER, NEAL ANDERSON, LUCAS HERGERT, MARY FORAN & SEVERAL OTHER RELIGIOUS PROFESSIONALS IN THIS AREA?
Susan Frederick-Gray! Read the UU World magazine’s August 1 profile of her at this link:
*Read Rev. Roger’s August Unigram & current website article about Susan:
*Meet Susan at UUSS this Sunday, August 28: 10:30 AM service; 5:00 PM reception & fundraiser.
Let me know if you’d like to help with the reception.
Yours in service,