Chamber Flip-Flops On Its Election Process

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Election. The right or ability to choose.

Appointment. The act of appointing for an office or position.

Webster's II New

Riverside University Dictionary

The November issue of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce's newsletter is creating no small amount of confusion among the chamber's membership not to mention confusion and contradictions within the chamber itself over the procedures which have been adopted for this month's board member "election."

"The election of three board members to be seated in January of 2001 will take place in December of 2000," the newsletter reads. "The board of directors has elected a nominating committee consisting of Chairman Greg Day, Patrick Willis, Barbara Bubnis and Blaine Kimball" each of whom is a current board member; Kimball is the chamber's current president.

" ... Any member of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce in good standing is urged to contact any member of the nominating committee with their nominations for members of the board. The committee alone will determine the final slate that will run in December for election to the board of directors" by the chamber membership."

The confusion has stemmed from the following issues:

As of Thursday morning, three nominees who received automatic placement on the election slate were current board members whose terms are expiring: Judy Miller, Meg Turlukis and Greg Day, the chairman of the nominating committee who was essentially in the position of overseeing his own nomination.

A fourth seat later opened up when board member Nathan Campbell resigned due to health problems, Kimball said. Initially, that was the only seat open for applications.

Contradictions between the chamber's top brass CEO Tom Kaleta and president/nominating committee member Kimball and two other members of the nominating committee over whether or not nomination applications were still being accepted.

Kaleta and Kimball told at least one prospective nominee this week that the slate had been filled and no new applications were being taken. Thursday morning, Kimball told the Roundup that "The candidate slate had already been selected by the nominating committee for this year."

Yet on the same morning, nominating committee members Day and Willis said they were still in search of prospects. Kaleta was out of town and unavailable for comment.

The restructuring of the chamber board's election process which minimizes the membership's candidate selection power. Chamber members are now only allowed to approve or reject the slate of candidates preapproved by the board's nomination committee.

Then and now

The way the process worked until a couple of years ago, Kimball said, is that "anyone who wanted to be on the board could apply (to be a nominee) ... people were nominated for the board (by the membership), and ballots were sent out."

As it now stands, the nominations are made exclusively by the chamber-selected nominating committee, Kimball said, and their nominees are voted upon by the membership.

"We publish in the newsletter that if anyone has an interest (in running for a board seat) to please contact one of the members of the nominating committee ..." Kimball said. "Then the nominating committee goes through the candidates and selects (those) members ... who they think would be a benefit to the board and the direction that we need to go. If we need a lawyer, we'd pick a lawyer; if we need an accountant, we'd pick an accountant, if one had applied.

"The membership can either approve them or not. It's up to them," Kimball said. "If through their votes they say, 'We don't like this slate of people,' then those people wouldn't be on the board. We'd have to ... start the process over again.

At least one Payson resident Shelley Manley, the Roundup's circulation manager, who tried to apply for a board nomination thinks there is a serious flaw in the way the process is being handled.

"I called (Kaleta) Tuesday and he said (the slate) was already decided," Manley said. "He also told me that the (board elections) were no longer a popularity contest; it's formed of people like doctors, lawyers and large business owners, and not just the average Joe off the street."

"The next day, Blaine also told me (the selection of nominees) was already done ... and that I could try again next year."

Thursday, however, two nominating committee members Chairman Day and Pat Willis told the Roundup that applications were still being accepted.

"We don't have a final slate yet," Day said. "People can still apply."

"We're still looking for people," Willis said. "It's kind of hard to find anybody who's willing to volunteer time."

As to why Kaleta and Kimball had been saying the slate was full, Willis said: "Maybe they felt they had sufficient people to meet the vacancies that are coming up."

If so, should that stop them from accepting additional applications?

"I wouldn't think so," Willis said.

Kimball said the discrepancy over the application deadline was a "miscommunication."

Day and Kaleta also differ on the qualifications a nomination applicant requires.

"If elected to the board, they will need to be able to meet a couple of times a month at the chamber, usually on a Tuesday or Thursday around 5:15," Day said. "We'd also like them to participate in Friday-night mixers and some of the ribbon cuttings and other functions. Those aren't mandatory, but we try to get the board members to as many of those things as we can."

The fourth chamber board and nominating committee member, Barbara Bubnis, expressed uncertainty over the issues at hand.

"Can people still apply? No, I don't think so, but I don't know for sure ..." Told there were four board seats which needed to be filled, she responded, "Four? I thought there was just one. I was on the nominating committee and I didn't know that!"

The eleventh hour

By late Thursday afternoon, after a dozen or so telephone calls between the Roundup and members of the nominating committee, and between the members themselves, the picture changed.

Kimball reiterated that the deadline confusion was the result of "miscommunication;" that Greg Day had dropped out of the election, for reasons Day explained were related to work and family; that the nominating committee is now looking for two chamber board nominees ... and that applications will be accepted until Monday, Dec. 4th.

Applicants can call Greg Day at 474-7411.

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