At the November meeting, members of the Administration Committee presented proposed changes to the bylaws, unanimously recommended by the Administration Committee. They were also recommended by a vote of the Executive Committee, and they were acted on at the December 18th meeting.
Two groups of amendments were adopted, one having to do with election procedures for Party officers, and the other having to do with protecting the integrity of our data resources. A proposal to modify the qualifications for holding office as Chair or First Vice Chair was referred to the Rules Committee for further vetting. The marked up bylaws are attached, and here are the highlights:
Last summer, at the recommendation of and with the support of the Democratic Party of Oregon, the Executive Committee approved an expenditure for a facilitated examination of our leadership and processes. One of the major issues that came out of that process was that our bylaws provide for no pre-requisite qualifications for candidacy for Chair of the Party. It was pointed out by the consultants that this is unusual for organizations with a component structure such as ours.
It was proposed, for the offices of Chair and First Vice Chair only, that a minimum prior service as a District Leader or Standing Committee Chair for six months in the past five years be established as a base qualification for office. The First Vice Chair was included because a major part of that office’s charge is to be prepared to step in as Chair. The reasoning is that this isn’t a very high bar, but guarantees both that the candidates have some knowledge of the structure and operation of the Party as well as the workload of the Chair, and that the Party members have a record of performance to refer to in evaluating candidates. The point is that the better the candidates know the Party and the better the Party knows the candidates, the better the decisions we make will be, and that prior qualifications are a good idea, but the bar should not be too high. This amendment was first amended to include other categories of service as qualifications, and then referred to the Rules Committee for further consideration.
Two changes were adopted in the procedure for declaring candidacy for Party office: 1. A deadline of 7 days before the election for declarations of candidacy, and 2. A requirement that official declarations of candidacy be submitted in writing to the Second Vice Chair. This is intended to provide members sufficient time to evaluate candidates, and simplify and clarify the declaration process. In addition, we will now use signed ballots, as the DPO does, to insure that if there is a question as to the credentials of those voting, qualified ballots can be confirmed.
The second group of amendments concerns the use of our data resources. Primarily this refers to the VAN, the dual database we have via the DPO, but it also refers to other data that we compile to facilitate our operation as a Party. The goal here is to ensure that end users of these resources are obligated, in the same way the Party is, to use these resources for the purposes for which they exist, such as Party building, Party communications and supporting Democratic candidates and endorsed campaigns. By putting these provisions in the bylaws, we empower Party leadership to formalize that agreement. These amendments were adopted.