Context and History II: Standing for the ANZMAC Executive (2007)

2007! A year long remembered, a year I stood for office…without actually campaigning for office. I stood for election to the board of the ANZMAC executive, and didn’t win a position. Some parts went well, some things didn’t work so well, and I had the opportunity to learn about the ANZMAC executive election process. Here’s a couple of reflections on the process.

Lessons learned…
There are a few lessons from any dry run on a political system.

  • 75 of ~400 eligible candidates voted.  Voluntary voting, confusion over voting format, and lack of motivation influences the total pool of voters available.  Increasing the total pool of voting candidates is a personal goal for 2008
  • Paid members are eligible to vote – ANZMAC conference attendees are automatically members for the following year, and others can join online. This creates a level of audience uncertainty as people think towards their attendance at the current conference when it comes to the engage in the ANZMAC community.

There are a few areas of uncertainty

  • The nomination process includes “Nominee Biography (No more than 100 words)” on the nomination form, and a later call for nominee statements.  If you fill out the Nominee biography, this is not overruled by the later call for statements. This was a mistake I made in the 2007 election.
  • The voting looks like a preferential system, but the vote tally seems to be based on first past the post

Why did I stand?
I have three reasons for standing for office.

  • It was time to repay some of what I’ve taken out of ANZMAC in term personal gain from the community
  • I talk big. I’d been a critic of ANZMAC Executive decisions and I believe if you’re not prepared to put up, it’s time to shut up, and I hate having to shut up. I felt, after 10 years in the academy, it was time to chip in and help out, or shut up and walk away.  I loved the place too much to walk away.
  • I believe in what ANZMAC stands for – having previous put my rent money into a personally sponsored track and room, I wanted the Academy to work. That’s why I put the money in, and why I want to put the time in, and why I did criticise it when I felt things are going in the wrong direction.

What did I hope to achieve?
I have a few pre-election goals that can be achieved even without winning office.

  1. Open elections. I am satisfied that the Executive was contested rather than appointed because more people than positions stood up to be counted (achieved in 2007). I have a real thing about closed appointments to community Executive committees, because it makes it very easy to turn into a clique, and even easier to exclude fresh voices, marginalised representation, and newcomers because they never get a chance to step into the role if it’s all taps on the shoulders and who endorsed you in private from the existing power.
  2. Improved Process. Experience creates improvement – when the elections are repeatedly contested, ANZMAC is a healthy organisation that can build on the organisational experience of each election.  Decisions around whether the election be preferential? could candidates organise into factions/tickets? Would that improve the Executive? the vote? Would it be useful, viable or counterproductive?  All of these things will be discovered over time
  3. Increased Participation levels.  I don’t mind if people vote for me or against me, so long as they’re voting. If I can spurn a turn out to block me, or support me, I’ve made a difference.

Policy Platforms /  Election Goals

  • Revamped Conference Proceedings Archive: I would like to see the ANZMAC conference proceedings archive overhauled to become much more accessible through a set of consistent design standards for each year of the conference proceedings.
  • Improved Transparency:ANZMAC has a range of checks and balances which are difficult, but not impossible, to uncover for the determined investigative type.  As a student of government, politics and law, I am an advocate for open processes, clear lines of demarcation, open declarations of conflicts of interest, and the principle of not just being accountable, but being seen to be accountable.

DidI stand again?
Yes.  I got appointed ex-officio once, and elected twice. I have since served out a term limit (2 non-consecutive terms), and am content with what I achieved.