We are proposing changes to PA membership and the endorsement process

The strength of People’s Alliance PAC endorsements is the support of its members and their willingness to vote for, volunteer and contribute to the best qualified, progressive candidates standing for offices statewide and here in Durham.

Through the course of the past several election cycles, participation in the PA PAC endorsement process has increased.  For that we are thankful. Participating in an endorsement meeting demonstrates a strong commitment to Durham’s electoral process--meetings go long into the night and both recent and long-time members actively debate the merits of each and every race.  

With greater participation comes greater scrutiny of our process and practices, however.  We strive to create an endorsement process in which every candidate has the right to be heard and new candidates--emerging voices in our political process--can share their vision for Durham.  We also seek to ensure a process in which every member feels that their vote counts.

To that end, the People’s Alliance and the People’s Alliance PAC have reviewed the requirements for membership and voting in endorsement meetings and are proposing a series of changes that we believe will make the process fairer.  These changes are the result of over a year of conversations with people within and outside PA and were informed by the results of a survey completed by over 200 PA members.

The complete text of the proposals is available here. 

The People’s Alliance board of directors, which sets the requirements for membership, sets and collects dues, and manages volunteer opportunities proposes:

  1. Limiting members to persons, and excluding corporations, associations, and other organizations from membership - this limitation is consistent with previous interpretations of the PA membership rules, but we are proposing this change to make this limitation explicit in light of the Citizens United decision.
  2. Prohibiting a person from paying PA membership dues for another person - we are proposing this change to ensure that outside organizations do not fund new members for the sole purpose of influencing the outcome of PA elections and PA PAC endorsements.
  3. Prohibiting officers of the People’s Alliance board from personally endorsing candidates not endorsed by the People’s Alliance PAC  - while we encourage vigorous debate, we believe that the People’s Alliance membership should determine endorsements and that elected officers People’s Alliance board members and PA PAC coordinators should work to elect the candidates supported by the membership.  This amendment permits board officers and coordinators to take a leave of absence should they choose to personally endorse candidates not endorsed by the PA membership.

The People’s Alliance PAC, which determines which members can vote and sets the process by which endorsements are debated and determined proposes to:

  1. Set the membership requirement to vote in PA PAC elections at 60 days, from 30 days - We believe that a voting eligibility period of 60 days will better align voting eligibility with the candidate filing deadline, while not unfairly restrict eligibility for supporters of candidates that are challenging incumbents.  This proposed amendment does not restrict new members from speaking in favor or in opposition to any candidates regardless of the date they joined People’s Alliance.
  2. Prohibiting People’s Alliance PAC coordinators from personally endorsing candidates not endorsed by the People’s Alliance PAC  - while we encourage vigorous debate, we believe that the People’s Alliance membership should determine endorsements and that elected People’s Alliance board members and PA PAC coordinators should work to elect the candidates supported by the membership.  This amendment permits board members and coordinators to take a leave of absence should they choose to personally endorse candidates not endorsed by the PA membership.

We are not proposing changes to PA membership dues--we know that cost must not be a barrier to participation in our political process.  We are not proposing participation requirements--while we encourage every member to join an action team we know that many members’ time is limited and we all voice our aspirations for Durham in different ways.

Each of these changes listed above, if adopted by the membership, will help assure new members and long-time members alike that all candidates have an equal chance to seek and secure the PA endorsement.

The complete text of the proposals is available here. 

Each of the proposals will be considered, debated, and voted on separately by the membership at our meeting scheduled for April 22.  We believe these changes are necessary and will improve how we choose which candidates represent our progressive values while preserving what makes PA great--its members, who are willing to devote their time and energy to keeping Durham progressive.

We take great pride in coordinating and facilitating an endorsement process on behalf of the People’s Alliance that is organized, thorough, and effective, but we are not perfect; we embrace all opportunities for improvement.  We hope that you will continue to actively participate in these processes and provide us with feedback on how we can best serve the members of the People’s Alliance and Durham.

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