2016 Board Elections Process Update & Consideration of Ranked-Choice Voting

The SF Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors is gearing up for a fall election in which our members will again have a say in who governs our work. Board members are SF Bicycle Coalition members who volunteer their time to serve as the governing body of the organization, ensuring that it works towards its mission, is financially healthy and operates within the law, among other responsibilities.

At the Tuesday, July 26, 2016 Board of Directors meeting, the Board Development committee presented updated scheduling information regarding the 2016 board election and discussed the possibility of using a ranked-choice voting method for that election. In addition, the Board Development Committee emphasized our early focus on this annual process, including opportunities for potential candidates to find out more about the board and communicate with members during the election.

The following details were presented for consideration, some of which will be up for a board vote at the August 30 meeting:

  • Any member interested in running for the board with questions regarding the process may contact the Board Development Committee at boardnomination@sfbike.org.
  • The Board Development Committee has identified areas of needed skills that will be valuable to the board in the two-year term ahead. Those skills are detailed here.
  • July 26: Interested board candidates and all members were invited to an informational session about service on the board, and also to the July board meeting immediately thereafter.
  • August 30 Board meeting: Plans and timeline for Board elections considered and finalized at Board of Directors meeting.
  • September: A Candidate Information Session, which all interested candidates are encouraged to attend, will be scheduled. The session will focus on the election process and opportunities for communicating with members. Watch for an update on the date & time here www.sfbike.org/events.
  • Nov. 17 to Dec. 4: Proposed dates for the 2016 election, during which members may cast their ballots, beginning at the annual member meeting and ending at Winterfest.

Additionally, the board discussed a recommendation by some members to use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for the board election. Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier summarized the staff’s findings below:

The staff and board have conducted research on RCV, including meeting with member proponent Peggy da Silva and communicating with RCV expert David Cary. We also received 17 e-mails from members urging the organization to consider RCV. Staff feels that while RCV has various benefits, it must also be considered alongside the organization’s capacity to execute given our current timeline and resources.

Switching to RCV would involve considerable staff time in further researching, purchasing, and testing a new system, as well as training staff, communicating the changes to the membership, and providing support to members with questions.

Furthermore, this is a particularly challenging environment to make such a change, as the organization is embarking on an effort-intensive strategic planning process, has just brought on a new executive director who is coming up to speed, is currently recruiting for two director-level positions, and running an endorsement process for the Nov. 8 elections, which will have significant impacts on our work for years. The reality is that time spent changing the voting process to a new system will be time taken away from other crucial work of the organization, strategic priorities which have been identified and prioritized for far longer.

Thus, the staff believes that making the investment to further research and potentially switch to RCV at this time is not within the organization’s current capacity. However, one of the areas the strategic planning process will likely cover is organizational development, and as such, it could explore the use of RCV in the future.

Given this conclusion by staff, the Board Development Committee did not recommend to the board that we make any changes to the voting system for the 2016 election. The staff and board expressed their appreciation for the interest and energy from the members who brought this idea forward; we acknowledge that this decision disappointed some, but we feel confident in the decision after weighing other strategic considerations and limited staff resources. And we do believe that RCV should be discussed and considered as part of the imminent strategic planning process as a possibility for future elections.

We look forward to continuing to update our members on the board election process. For further information and updates, see http://sfbike.org/news/tag/board-elections/

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