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SQLPass NomCom election: Why I voted twice

Did you already cast your votes for the SQLPass NomCom election? If not, you really should! Your vote can make a difference, so don’t let it go to waste.

The NomCom is the group of people that prepares the elections for the SQLPass Board of Directors. With the current election procedures, their opinion carries a lot of weight. They can reject applications, and the order in which they present candidates can be considered a voting advice. So use care when casting your votes – you are giving a lot of influence to the people you choose.

Because there are three seats open for elections, every PASS member with a completed profile on the PASS site gets a maximum of three votes. I used only two, and I have a good reason for that. I believe that there is something fundamentally broken in the NomCom selection and election process.

Since a few years, PASS is actively trying to morph from an “international” organization, ran only from the USA, to a truly international organization. As a result of changes to the bylaws and to the procedure for Board of Directors elections, the current Board of Directors now for the first time in history (as far as I know) has two European representatives – but sadly no one from any other non-North-American area. A lot of work still has to be done, and a lot of time still has to pass, before we can expect a truly international Board of Directors.

The process for the NomCom election appears to be a step back in this regard. Three seats are to be elected. Two are truly open, the third is reserved … for a US/Canada representative. I do not understand this. Does PASS really need a guaranteed US/Canada seat on the NomCom to get a truly international representation? Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to reserve at least one seat for “non-US/Canada”?

It is also relevant to consider that the actual NomCom consists of five persons. Three are elected by the members, one is the Immediate Past President of PASS, Bill Graziano, and I could not find anything about the fifth seat but my assumption is that this seat is reserved for founding partner and primary sponsor Microsoft. So that means that two seats are already filled with representatives from the US, and the reserved US/Canada seat in the elections means that North America is guaranteed a 3 out of 5 majority in the NomCom. And depending on the votes, US/Canada may also get the last two seats.

With only two candidates for the NomCom who are not from the US or Canada, you might consider all of this a moot point. From a practical point of view, the reserved seat for US/Canada will never make a difference (though a reserved seat for non-US/Canada might). But purely out of principle, I want to voice my opinion that this process is broken. (And then we can also speculate on whether there would have been more international candidates if there would have been no reserved seats – if I know that the rules of the election favor my opponents and reduce my chances, I would think twice before even applying).

I am convinced that all NomCom candidates will try to put the best candidates forward, and that none of them will favor candidates from their own region. But if PASS wants to become a truly international organization, it needs to have international representatives in all bodies, including the NomCom. Ideally, that is achieved by having completely open elections for all bodies – no seats should be reserved for regions. But I understand that the current membership and the past record of election participation from members from different regions would cause such a setup to end up with all North American representatives, so I do see the need for reserving seats for under-represented areas – as a temporary measure.

What I do not understand is the reason for reserving a seat for a region that is already way over-represented. And that’s why I decided to go on a strike against candidates from the US or from Canada, voting only for candidates from the rest of the world. Nothing personal, not for any reasons related to the actual candidates – just making a point, and maximizing the chance of both open seats going to non-North-American candidates. There were only two such candidates – and that is why I used only two of my three votes.

There are now less than two days left before voting closes. If you have not already, I urge you to go out and vote now. Use your votes. Use them wisely.

Published Wednesday, June 04, 2014 1:58 PM by Hugo Kornelis
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Andy Warren said:

Hugo, I think the other seat goes to whoever the Board appoints, not necessarily MS (and it hasn't been in years past). I'd like to see PASS comment on your questions. My take is that the transition is in flight and will take another year or two (or more) to complete as it's a one slow step at a time.

Andy

June 4, 2014 9:06 AM
 

Hugo Kornelis said:

Thanks for the correction on the fifth seat, Andy. I hope someone from the board will comment and tell us who will take the fifth seat this year, and what consideration led to that choice.

I fully agree on the slow transition, and I would not have commented on the process if I had perceived it as s step, however tiny, in the right direction. Or even as a stand-still. But the US/Can reserved seat looks like a step in the wrong direction, reversing a lot of the little improvements we have seen in the past one or two years.

Thanks for your comment, Andy, and for your commitment to community. I wish you, and all other candidates, enormous amounts of votes!

June 4, 2014 9:54 AM
 

ed elliott said:

I voted for the 2 non us people, initially because they were non-us but I also liked what they had to say on their profiles.

I also voted for one US candidate as I felt he sounded like a genuine sort of a person.

June 4, 2014 5:16 PM
 

Ed Leighton-Dick said:

The reason that US/Canada has a seat on the NomCom is that it mirrors the makeup of the candidates for the board.  Last year, there were two open seats and one for EMEA.  This year, the US/Canada seat on the board is up for election, so one seat on the NomCom is reserved for US/Canada. PASS covered this in their post on the Elections page (http://www.sqlpass.org/Elections.aspx) and in earlier posts about the election.

June 4, 2014 6:41 PM
 

Bill Graziano said:

Hugo,

We put up a blog post that addresses many of the issues you raised as well as providing some additional information around the NomCom.  Hopefully this clears things up.

http://www.sqlpass.org/Community/PASSBlog/tabid/1476/entryid/637/Global-Representation-in-NomCom-and-Board-Elections.aspx

-Bill

June 5, 2014 10:40 AM
 

Hugo Kornelis said:

Thanks for the explanation and links, Ed and Bill! It makes a lot more sense now.

(I personally fail to see a reason for this coupling of reserved NomCom seats to reserved BoD seats, but if this is what the bylaws say, then this is how it has to be done).

(I am also surprised to hear that there are two reserved BoD seats for USA/Canada versus one for EMEA and none for the rest of the world, but that, too, is another discussion that I probably should not go into right now).

June 5, 2014 5:09 PM
 

Chris Testa-O'Neill said:

Congratulations to Erin, Andy and Allen on making the Nomination Committee for 2014. As Mark Broadbent

June 7, 2014 12:10 PM

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About Hugo Kornelis

Hugo is co-founder and R&D lead of perFact BV, a Dutch company that strives to improve analysis methods and to develop computer-aided tools that will generate completely functional applications from the analysis deliverable. The chosen platform for this development is SQL Server. In his spare time, Hugo likes to visit the SQL Server newsgroups, in order to share and enhance his knowledge of SQL Server.

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