The USA Dance national election season is upon us. At this time the nomination process has not yet closed so we do not yet know who will officially be on the ballot. Therefore, the following comments are being made for general purposes only, and should not be construed as being for or against any particular candidate. All candidates who wish to volunteer their services in order to make USA Dance a better organization are to be commended.
It is safe to assume that this will be a contested election with many people running for office. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful to USA Dance members as they consider which candidates they wish to vote for and begin to evaluate each candidate’s fitness for office.
- First of all, campaign promises are cheap, but those who make big promises can rarely keep them. The members of USA Dance should be wary of any candidate who promises too much.
- USA Dance is a volunteer-driven organization. People volunteer because they want to help the organization. But there are those who may want to use USA Dance to further their careers. Members should be skeptical of a candidate whenever they suspect that such motives are in play.
- Members should also be skeptical whenever a group of candidates attempts a take-over of all the officer positions as happened in the last election. Such ploys rarely end well. In the case of the Vote United We Dance team that won the election in 2013, the candidates consisted of individuals who had little or no experience on the Governing Council of USA Dance or the necessary institutional knowledge of the national organization. Yet these individuals thought that they could simply take over our complex national organization and run things better than their predecessors who had significant experience at all levels of the organization. This did not work, and in under two years all were gone, and the Governing Council called in Past National Presidents to serve in interim positions or perform necessary assignments in order to help get the organization back on track. The other problem with a take-over team is that the members of such a team have all too frequently not properly vetted each other. They are running as a team simply to have a better chance at unseating incumbents, and may not even know each other well or have experience working together enough to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. So USA Dance members should be wary of coalitions that form in order to “get rid” of incumbents.
What Happens when Only Few Members Vote: During the last election the incumbents warned the membership of the pitfalls of electing an inexperienced team to take the helm of USA Dance. But the Vote United We Dance team was able to convince 700 out of the organization’s 14,000 members that they could do a better job. They were elected because so many other members decided that voting was too much of an effort, they hadn’t bothered to educate themselves on the election and the candidates’ backgrounds, or they simply did not care enough to cast a ballot.
Now I don’t want readers to misconstrue my comments. I am not saying that incumbents are always better than challengers. Clearly any organization needs a certain amount of turnover in order to stay healthy and bring in fresh ideas and a different perspective. All candidates who are running because they see a way that their skills can help USA Dance are to be commended, and it is the duty of the members of USA Dance to determine which candidates are running for office to help the organization rather than enhance their own careers.
But because so few members vote in USA Dance national elections, it is relatively easy for a takeover team to do just that – take over. The only way to stop such future attempts by inexperienced individuals or individuals who do not have USA Dance’s best interests at heart is for members to vote.
Final Comments: During a national USA Dance election, members should read all candidates’ statements carefully to determine their breadth of experience in the organization, especially at the national level. If members are not sure of a candidate’s motivations in running for office, they should ask the candidate specific questions on the Candidate Forum and evaluate the responses with a critical eye toward any obfuscation. And then members should take the time to vote, because they hold the key to whether or not qualified people are elected to national office. By voting, members do their share to ensure that experienced individuals are at the helm of USA Dance so that the difficulties experienced by the organization in 2014 and 2015 are not repeated.