Monday, April 13, 2015

Mensa Elections 2015

So many have asked me to tell them who to vote for. I’m flattered that my judgment is so valued. We have several three- or four-way races.

Races with three or more candidates will be determined by preferential voting. This means, short of someone gaining 50%+ on the first count (which is not likely), the votes of the third (or fourth) preference will be allocated to the other candidates based on second preference in a second round of counting. Preferential voting is in place to handle "run-off elections" at the time of voting/counting.

There is a rule that you must vote in the first "conceptual" election of the preferential election. There is no rule that you must cast a vote in all three or four. Effectively, you're opting not to vote in the second and third elections if it came down to a run-off.

So say I really want Alice to win, and Bob is a decent second choice. I'd shoot myself if Charlie wins, so I vote 1 for Alice, 2 for Bob, and not at all for Charlie. Turns out Alice came in third in the first round... now what?

If Alice came in third, then it's between Bob and Charlie in a second round of counting, and Bob gets my second preference choice/vote in that round of counting, in that "run-off" election. ‪In this instance, my lack of a preference for Charlie would not come into play until a third round of voting if they couldn't achieve 50%+ in the second round.
If I only see value in Alice (and not the other two candidates) and Alice doesn't make it to a second round of voting, then neither Bob nor Charlie gets my vote in that counting. Voting only for Alice might inadvertently help Charlie simply by not boosting Bob’s votes higher.
‪That's why this is something to consider carefully.

Robin’s advice: In the races with three or four candidates, please vote for at least two. Below are the candidates, my personal comments on them, and colored indicators on how I recommend voters rank them (green being first choice, yellow being second, red being third or no vote)


I’ve worked with Nick on a number of committees, and he even thought to consult with me when I was not on the board because he was tackling the Local Group Funding topic and knew that I was the one with all the research and data on that issue. Nick is a hard fact and data kind of guy. He’s got a corporate mindset, though he does care about member-services and has done a good job of reaching out to solicit member-input and to be as open and educational as possible regarding Mensa’s finances. “Transparency” is one of those meaningless buzzwords, like “family values” but I do believe Nick has done more than any prior treasurer towards that goal. On the other hand, he is one of the current ExComm members who helped steer Mensa in the direction it’s been going, including the retention of the current Executive Director. He is young, but experienced enough, and in this case, his youth is a good thing to mitigate the general grayness of the AMC.

I only know Deb though her online postings and the words of others. My impression is that she is an older, well-seasoned member who has been there and done that in nearly every way conceivable at the local level. She is not a sheep, not in it for the ego and status, and claims to prefer data and facts when making decisions, which I approve of. She is the “throw the bums out” choice and would not do a bad job as a Chair.

Dan has led Mensa into its current morass. I could say many more things about Dan, but he’s not worth the time it takes me to type it. Note also that if Dan loses, Russ Bakke is also removed from the AMC. Unless you’re completely content with how things are going, don’t vote for Dan. Just don’t.


I’ve not worked with Mary Lee, but I know many who have. She may be older, but she is a proven effective get-things-done leader and she has members and groups first. She is also a strong proponent of using members as volunteers whenever possible. She thinks for herself, isn’t running for ego and status and free trips to Europe, and will likely not post pictures of exotic drinks on Facebook while traveling on Mensa business.

Heather is thoughtful and experienced and has a fair bit of wisdom to offer when she speaks up. She is also very much in the pocket of the Executive Director and part of the current ExComm who has driven Mensa into the hole it’s in.


My impressions of LaRae are all second hand. She strikes me as hard working and effective but very much obedient and accepting with whatever the Executive Director and Chair tells her. She is one of the current ExComm who made decisions that have led Mensa astray in the past two years.

I don’t know John. What I’ve read is that he has lots of experience and respect at the local level. He is the “throw the bums out” choice.

I’ve worked with Ken on a number of committees, including the Finance Committee. I remember he once caught an error in a complicated formula calculation that saved  Mensa something like 17 thousand dollars. He’s definitely a numbers nerd with an eye for boring details. Policy-wise we were generally aligned in our thinking and goals for member-service and delivery methods. He’s familiar with the convoluted ways of Mensa policies, and turns out to be not nearly as sheep-like as I once expected him to be, though he is very fond of and supportive of the current Executive Director. Maybe not the most dynamic exciting person to hang with, but in a role like this, he’s good. I have heard some dodgy things about him regarding his service on his local board, but I do not know any details personally.

I’ve known Rob mainly through online interactions. We’ve never actually worked on anything together. He is most certainly a leader not a follower. He is charismatic and energetic and has a million really good ideas. Unfortunately, he is impatient with the slow process of change and AMC processes, and in his one and only term on the board, accomplished little. Whether that was due to concerted push back from more entrenched AMCers or his own inability to work within the system to get a majority on his side, I do not know. If you’re in “throw the bums out” mode, vote for Rob.

I have worked with Roger on a few committees. He is thoughtful and greatly concerned with the welfare of groups. However, I have noticed a few times when he chose policy directions based on gut feelings rather than hard cold data. He's not unskilled or evil, but I don't think he'd lead Mensa in the new direction it needs to be going.

I’m afraid I know practically nothing about William. His campaign statement mentions his desire to focus on community service & recruitment. He may have the background to understand finances, but without any previous experience on the AMC, I doubt he’d be efficient and effective as a leader at this point—he’d need too much time just to learn the job and board processes.

I’ve worked with Lori. She is charismatic and colorful and speaks her mind unhesitatingly. She does like data and facts when making decisions, and definitely stands on the platform of having members being more in charge and doing more. She has AMC experience, which is helpful. The actual job of Secretary is mundane, but as a member of the powerful ExComm, Lori would be an excellent representative for members who are tired of being just dues revenue.

I’ve not worked with Andrew, but my impression of him is good. He is young, which is a plus in a graying board, but he is also part of the current AMC which has made a number of decisions I disagree with. I do not have any idea where he stands on the topic of the current Executive Director and her hold over the AMC, but my gut says he hasn’t protested it.

I worked a tiny bit with Nancy on Officer Handbooks many years ago. We didn’t get much actually done (this was before switching to the newer process). She is gregarious and hard-working at the local level and has been in Mensa a long time. Her passion for the organization and its members is high.


Gail in Az said...

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

When Dan was (what I would call) bullying an RVC during the last AMC meeting, Andrew made a public statement about the tone used in meetings and everyone knew what he was referring to. That is a plus in my eyes, that he has an eye on how we work together. But I am planning on voting for Lori....

Ken Silver said...

Robin heard some "dodgy" things about my efforts on behalf of Minnesota Mensa. This relates to my responsibility to invest the group's funds. First as the Treasurer and later as the "Finance Director" a title we created for the person doing the investing.

Interest rates were quite low, but with research I found opportunities with moderate risk that had much better returns, averaging about 10 times the CD rates. But the idea of having any risk did not sit well with some people, so they voted to take away my title, had me disinvest, and they put the money into CD's.

I felt that I had always been acting in the best interests of the group.

Scott Rainey said...

As a 3-Term AMCer: Good analysis, Robin. I'd be a bit less harsh on Dan, but we're friends.

Matt Crawford said...

Scott, may I suggest you read any or all of Dan's quarterly officer reports for any year and any office he has ever held? They are all vacuous.