Contested Election for U.S. Figure Skating President

by George S. Rossano

U.S. Figure Skating will have a contested election for president this year.  The current president, Sam Auxier is completing his second two year term at this meeting.

The Nominating Committee has the responsibility to select candidates for the Board of Directors and to recommend chairmen for the various committees.  The committee publishes its selections in mid-March. Individuals who want to run against the Nominating Committee candidates have until 1 April to announce their candidacy.  Committee chairman serve at the pleasure of the president, and the president is free to ignore the recommendations and choose others to serve.  Committee chairman are not subject to election, contested or otherwise.

The Nominating Committee consists of twelve members, one from each of the nine regions and one athlete from each section.  They choose from among themselves a chairman.  The regional representative may include coaches.

The nominating process begins with the membership having the opportunity to suggest candidates.  From those nominated by the membership the committee comes up with a short-list of candidates for each position and invites those on the short-list to provide a vision statement.  The committee may also solicit other individuals to throw their hats in the ring, if the individuals suggested by the membership fall short of committee expectations.  It is no secret who some of the potential candidates are for some offices, as some individuals announce their desire to be selected for a given office.

For the office of president it was generally recognized that at least three individuals were up for consideration.  It has also been generally known for at least a year that the current Midwest vice president, Lainie DeMore was seeking to succeed Sam Auxier.  Last Fall the current Eastern vice president Anne Cammett announced her candidacy.

The main Nominating Committee deliberations take place over a roughly ten week period, beginning after the deadline for nominations from the membership at the end of December, though their work begins before then.

In addition to their vision statements, the committee provided the presidential candidates a list of questions for which the candidates provided written answers.  Based on this thorough vetting of the candidates the Nominating Committee selected Anne Cammett for the position for president, and Lainie DeMore for Midwest vice president.

Candidates are required to confirm, and did, that they would accept the nominations from the committee, but after the meeting book was released it was learned that DeMore had also entered the race for president leading to a contested election.  There is nothing in the rules to prevent this, but nonetheless it shocked many delegates that this turned out to be the case, learning of it only after the meeting book was published in early April.

If DeMore wins the presidential election, the Midwest vice president would then be an open seat, and the new board of directors would fill the position.  The effect of this would be that the members will have been deprived of their right to choose the Midwest vice president through their representatives on the Nominating Committee, or through a potential contested election for Midwest vice president .  Members were generally unaware of the contested presidential election until after the deadline for someone to enter the race.  If Cammett is elected president, DeMore would serve her term as vice president.

As a result of this situation, it is expected that a rules change will offered during New Business to forbid a person for running for two offices simultaneously.

The vision statements for the candidates have been published and are very similar.  Both candidates embrace the new strategic plan, both having served on the committee that developed it, DeMore as chairman.  Both candidates have a long history in U.S. Figure Skating working at the grass roots level.  Both have served as vice presidents of their sections and in other positions in the organization.  Both understand the realities of the financial and business matters of the Associations.

There are two key differences between the candidates.

Cammett is a National and ISU official who has judged at World and Olympic championships, and is well known within the ISU.  She has been chief referee for U.S. Nationals twice.  Cammett has direct understanding of the relationship between the Association and the ISU, and the needs of athletes competing internationally.  DeMore is a National Accountant and Level 3 Technical Accountant.  She has no significant experience at the ISU.

The second difference between the candidates is their governance style.  For many years there has been an ongoing conflict between those who believe the Association should be governed from the top down and those who defend governance from the bottom up.  Support for governance from the top down has been strongest in the Midwest which has held the presidency for the last nine years, and DeMore appears to fall into that camp.  Cammett is more attuned to those who favor bottom up governance and has shown a greater willingness to be more inclusive in using the full human resources in the Association to face its challenges.

The election will take place by closed ballot Saturday morning prior to the start of the Saturday morning session of the Governing Council.

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Copyright 2018 by George S. Rossano