I’m A Candidate For the PASS 2014 Nominating Committee

I submitted my application for the NomCom on May 21 and after the review process we’re now in “campaign week”. This will probably be the only statement for my campaign and I want to cover a few different things; why I’m running, how I’ll approach the task if elected, and why the NomCom is a key part of the overall election and why it is the way it is today..

So, let’s start with why:

  • I have the time this year. Trivial perhaps, but true. It can take a lot of time.
  • It’s a position where I can leverage my experience as a Board member
  • It’s a position where I can leverage my experience as a member of the Election Review Committee (ERC) that set the current election rules
  • This year the NomCom will act as a “mini-ERC’” to streamline the process and I’d like to be part of that discussion
  • It’s a good way to continue to participate in PASS

Nothing earth shaking there, just interest and good intentions.

Next, how will I approach the role if elected?

  • I’ll treat candidates with respect. That’s absolutely not to say that anyone else would do differently, just that I appreciate the effort that it takes to decide to run, fill out the application process, and then go through interviews and a campaign. Even the lowest ranked candidate deserves to feel like they added to PASS.
  • I believe the role of the nomcom is to confirm that candidates pass the “qualified” threshold as defined in the election process, to rank the candidates based on the written application and the oral interview, and if there are more than 9 candidates (the rules describe the limit as 3 per vacancy) to use the rankings to select the “best” candidates for the voters to choose from.
  • Other than exceptional cases I don’t believe the NomCom should go any further in deciding who is qualified – that’s your job, and is in fact how the rules are written as of today.
  • I’ll ask tough questions, especially about transparency, how they will find time for their PASS duties, governance, and more. Yes, I’ll expect them to prepare. In practice I’ll probably I get to ask two or three questions during an interview and I’ll tailor them to how the candidate is doing. I might want to probe for a weak area, or I might want to try to pull out more about a strength that they haven’t explained well.
  • I’ll listen carefully to the questions from the other NomCom members and the candidate answers, and I’ll consider things that other NomCom members see as I submit my ranking for each candidate

The second part of that is the ‘streamlining’ discussion that I think will be done this year. I think you deserve to know where I stand on that as well:

  • I think the current process works reasonably well
  • I think having elections that the members trust is critical
  • I think there are quite a few places worth revisiting; the election calendar, reviewing the application to see if we need to add/change/remove items, consideration of how much time we’re asking of candidates, and maybe more.
  • I’m not in favor of big changes to the NomCom process. Many have said that having a NomCom election feels bulky. Is it? Certainly it’s work, but it’s how we guarantee that if you as a member want change you can get it – the old system did not. There might be other ways to accomplish the same thing and I’d be willing to discuss those. I’m also not in favor of big changes to the power of the NomCom. Many think the NomCom doesn’t have enough power because they can’t remove someone that they believe isn’t qualified. I’m in favor of letting the NomCom remove someone with a unanimous vote and nothing less, a nuclear option that should be employed rarely (because if it isn’t, we need to work more on the app and the definition of qualifications). Based on recently elections I’d also like to discuss whether changing to 2x from 3x candidates might leverage the NomCom a little more without going too far.
  • I will consider any  proposed changes as part of the whole system. Is transparent, fair, does it have checks and balances, will it serve the members well? That’s what I’ll be looking for.
  • I will consider tweaks much more readily than any whole revisions. Let’s adjust if needed, not tear down and rebuild.
  • We have to talk about how we identify members who are allowed to vote so that we can prevent fraud. The Board has postponed this issue for too many years. It may not be in scope, but it must be mentioned.
  • I would like to see any substantial changes implemented in 2015, especially if they apply to the NomCom.
  • I hope we can also talk about what we can do to encourage and grow more leaders and candidates

Why is the process the way it is today? A few years ago we had election problems. We had someone from outside of PASS (and SQL) show up as a candidate, back in the days when the NomCom was all powerful. We had an election when someone very well known and very qualified (in my view, and others) wasn’t put on the slate by the NomCom. That led to the ERC and a long hard effort to build a system of checks and balances so that we had a system that protected PASS yet allowed/guaranteed the members the ability to change PASS. We talked and interviewed and argued and while we came up with might not be perfect, it has worked, and it’s not substantially different than what many organizations use. It’s understandable and consistent year over year, something I feel we lacked prior to the change.

Review the slate here and the page with my application and qualifications here.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for being part of the process.Watch for the ballot next week in an email from PASS.

2 thoughts on “I’m A Candidate For the PASS 2014 Nominating Committee

  1. Andy, thanks for taking the time to run for NomCom, Great post. Do you think the two situations could occur again, even if we didn’t have the NomCom? It certainly feels like the whole process is a bit heavy handed, though I don’t really know all of the nuances and machinations of running such a large volunteer based organization.


    1. Jason, thanks, and yes, I do think some guidelines need to remain in place. History passes all too quickly and we can easily forget why we have some of the protections (which isn’t to say we can’t look for ways to simplify them or just do them better). Consistency matters a lot year over year, and before we had wild swings due to each NomCom taking a very rough charter “select the slate” and going forth, always trying incredibly hard to do good, just in my mind inconsistently and sometimes over zealously. We can evolve and still be consistent.

      Less nuance than you might think! Yet we end up with a mildly complex set of rules to make sure that we’re seen as running a fair and transparent process – and that we actually execute on it!

      Also, think on this – before the ERC there was no rule that said you had to be somehow vested in PASS to run. You could, and we did have someone, run who knew almost nothing about our community and our members. Is having that rule a good thing? I think it is. Maybe someday that rule will change. For now though, the Board gives the committee clear guidance on the minimums and that matters a lot.


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