Dear fellow members,
A recent Bylaw change has prompted questions from some members. I hope the following provides more context and understanding for the changes recently made. (Please see the Equity Bylaw August 2018 update for background information.)
Since 1982, Council has operated under a system where all Councillors and officers were re-elected every three years. This “clean slate” model took a large toll on continuity of action, and resulted in the loss of a lot of accumulated knowledge. For two terms now, Council has been working to improve both Council and officer succession. We wanted a process by which newly elected Councillors ran for an officer position once they had settled into the task of representing their region.
Last year’s prudent decision of the past Council President to resign early in the term, along with a proposal to explore other ways to address officer succession and continuity, set the stage for a new round of discussion. After considering several options, Council decided that uncoupling the officer terms of service from the Council term – and from each other – was the best route forward. That change was debated and passed unanimously at our last meeting. (Of note: all currently-serving officers abstained from voting to avoid conflict of interest.)
Revisions to Article 110 reduce the term length of Council’s four officer positions (President, First and Second Vice-Presidents, and Secretary-Treasurer) from three years to two. Additionally, this two-year officer term now carries over to the new Council term— for re-elected officers who have served less than two years in the role. This change ensures that institutional knowledge is retained, enables an incoming Council to resume work more quickly, provides mentorship support to newly-elected officers, and affords opportunity for new Councillors to run for office when those two-year terms are up.
As an example, because I became Council President only a year ago, if I am re-elected in the BC & Yukon region, I will retain that position for the first year of the new term of Council, after which Council will hold an election for President. In contrast, our Second Vice-President has served in that role for three years, so Council will elect a new Second VP right at the start of the new term. Any incumbent is free to run again for any vacant officer position.
Some Equity members who support the decrease in officer term length have questioned the decision to implement the practice immediately. The rationale for that choice is simple: had we not instituted the change now – and made it applicable to sitting officers – we would have run into exactly the problem we are trying to avoid… except it would happen every two years, instead of every three. We would still be faced with “clearing the decks” and fewer options for knowledge-transfer or mentorship. But now with shorter and staggered terms, we will see increased opportunities for Councillors to put themselves forward, while improving continuity, succession, and support.
Sometimes the wheels of democracy move slowly. We would have much rather resolved this issue earlier in the term, but due to other pressing business it was not possible until now. (It’s been a busy year for Council and staff.) As the process for officer election does not occur until the new Council convenes in late November, it was deemed worth doing this change now rather than waiting another three years.
I hope this background fills in any blanks regarding our actions in this area. Your elected Council is committed to serving the Equity membership with diligence and integrity. If you have further concerns or questions about this or any other Council business, please get in touch with your regional Councillor. You may also always reach me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you all the very best,