Dear Editor,

RNA Appoints all Candidates to the Board, Overrules Election Results

As a Board Member of the Richmond Neighborhood Association, and as a resident of Richmond, I am shocked by the action of the RNA Board that, in effect, overruled the results of the annual Board election on June 10-11 by appointing all the candidates to the Board.

At the end of the June 11 election meeting, the Chair announced the results:  only 3 of the 7 candidates received 51% or more of the votes cast in order to be seated to the Board:  Kat West, Jonathan King and Allen Field.  (A later recount revealed that Sharon Hatch also received 51% of the votes and was elected to the Board.)

The RNA’s Bylaws require that board members must be elected by “a majority vote” of the votes cast. The Bylaws allow up to a maximum of 15 board members but no minimum number is required above the 5-person quorum requirement.

In alternating years, up to 7 board members can be elected one year and up to 8 the next year, in order to alternate the election of board seats.

Immediately after the election results were announced, a motion was made by a member of the Elections Committee, seconded, and passed to simply appoint all the remaining candidates to the Board.

There was no discussion of any particular Bylaws section that allows this, no one pulled out a copy of the Bylaws – this all happened in very rushed fashion after 9 pm, when RNA meetings normally end.

In the four meetings the Election Committee held, it was never discussed that the Board can simply appoint Board Members and bypass election results.

On the RNA’s Election Results webpage, it appears that the primary authority relied on for the Board to appoint all the candidates to the Board, despite the election results is:  Article X, Vacancies, Section 1 Board of Directors: “Any member of the Board who misses three meetings within the period of one year without valid excuse shall be contacted and removed from office at the discretion of the Board.

A member who misses five meetings within the period of one year, even with a valid excuse, will be contacted to determine continuing interest. Vacancies on the Board will be filled by appointment made by the Board of Directors for the balance of the term.”

This section does not allow appointing people to the Board before their 2-year terms have even started. The Board’s appointment powers should only be used between elections, not during an election to effectively overrule the vote-count and the will of the voters.

As long as I’ve attended meetings since 2004, the RNA has never appointed anyone to the Board; board members have always been elected.

Following the final Elections Committee meeting, with SE Uplift just prior to the election, the Chair stated: “candidates have to be voted in.”

Two years ago, when enough candidates did not receive enough votes to fill all the seats, another election was held the next month, a procedure allowed by Robert’s Rules which is incorporated into the Bylaws under a Robert’s Rules catch-all provision.

Here, the appropriate procedure would have been either (1) hold another election in July, or (2) just move on with 11 board members, which is what the RNA did two years ago after the second election failed to fill the remaining seat.

I am not speaking as a representative of the RNA.  I am reporting on the action of the Board and, in my personal view, its possible ramifications. Will the Board now just appoint like-minded people to fill empty seats as it addresses contentious land use and parking permit issues?

In future elections, will the Board simply appoint all the candidates and ignore the vote-count if the number of candidates is equal to, or less than, the number of available seats?

Why would anyone bother to vote if all the candidates would simply be appointed to the Board? In either case, it represents a disheartening turn for the RNA Board, which should be made up of individuals the community chooses to elect to the Board.

            

           Allen Field