By Holly Edgell | August 3rd, 2012
Editor’s Note: At the 2011 convention, members of the Society decided on a change to the bylaws that would allow each member to cast a vote for board candidates. This is a move away from the previous system, whereby delegates attending the national convention cast votes on behalf of their chapters. Hagit Limor was SPJ president during the debate and discussion over whether the Society should make the change.
EDGELL To what degree do you think the “one member, one vote” system for electing the board will affect how SPJ members feel about their ability to have an impact on the Society?
LIMOR We hope members gain not only a measure of control but a vehicle toward greater involvement. Until now, members have had no ability to vote directly for their regional and national representation. They empowered delegates and hoped they would represent their wishes. Now members can be sure their voices are heard. They can engage candidates directly in a more user-friendly format. The hope is that the ability to vote directly will entice some members to explore leadership options themselves.
EDGELL I wonder if having the opportunity to have a direct vote for candidates will be a factor in former SPJ members coming back.
LIMOR I sure hope so. Certainly some people have shared a perception that the former system supported cronyism. Whether or not you agree, no one can argue that the new system leaves wide open to candidates how they campaign and where, and leaves a direct two-way street between candidate and members for conversation, be it online or at convention. I hope any former members who may have felt our prior system left something to be desired will check us out again.
EDGELL So far, what reactions have you gotten from members? It seems like they would feel more empowered by “one member, one vote,” but I know there were some people who preferred the delegate system.
LIMOR I’ve heard little from members since the vote in September, but certainly heard much about the issue before it. Definitely, we had two camps, with some people believing “one member, one vote” to be superior, more modern and transparent, while some believed the delegate system allowed those most active in daily chapter business and knowledgable in Society business to choose national leadership. To me, they’re two variants of democracy and as in all political systems, there are positives and negatives to each. However, the vote is final so I’m hoping all members put aside prior qualms and embrace our new system.
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EDGELL What does not change with this new system? Does “one member, one vote” apply to decisions other than board member elections? Why or why not?
LIMOR The new system elects our national office holders only. Members still will not be voting directly on bylaws changes or proposals that come to the floor at convention. These often are subject to amendments that change during discussion on the floor, making it difficult for members not at convention to contribute, listen or weigh all arguments. For that reason, chapters still will select delegates to consider motions on the floor.
EDGELL What else should members and prospective members know about “one member, one vote?”
LIMOR We are embracing a new day at SPJ, a century after its founding. In those 103 years, the Society has changed and morphed before to adjust to the times. Now, we’re seizing today’s technology and empowering all members to have a voice in their leadership. I challenge all members to participate. It’s easy wherever you are. We look forward to a robust campaign and election.