I recently received the following question from an Aleph:
Recently, one of the ideas we had was that members of chapters in bad standing should not be allowed to run for regional board, the thought being that the chapter should come first (and needs them more). One of the cited examples of why this policy might be good was that of a recent Regional N’siah who had left her chapter, only to have her chapter die out during her regional N’siah term.
On the other side of the argument was those who felt that the region as a collective body should be able to make a judgment call on an issue like that.
So essentially, the question at heart is:
Who “should” run for regional board? What chapters should they come from, what types of leadership backgrounds – should they all be the top leaders (who have completed chapter board) in their top chapters? Should it be a mix of guys who were “extra” in a really strong chapter, guys who were top leaders in a really weak chapter, and the best of the best?
What a great question – one for which there are no easy answers. Or rather, there is an answer, and one that is surprisingly simple – but it isn’t easy.
Democratic principles make it clear: every member should have the right to run for regional board if they meet the constitutional requirements. Those requirements might be based on age or experience, but to deny them the right to run because of the state of their chapter seems to me counter to the principles of equal opportunity and patently unfair.
However, there is a “catch-22” situation here.
For it is the role of regional board above all to support the chapters. And clearly, if a member whose presence is truly crucial to the survival of their chapter were to run for regional board, in doing so they would be acting against that very principle – proving without a doubt that they are not qualified or worthy of being on regional board. This too is patently unfair, but it is an unfairness due to the reality of their situation – not one imposed through politics or bureaucracy.
I tend to trust the membership to understand this and choose wisely. Yes, I know that sometimes they choose poorly, but when this happens they suffer the consequences of their choices, just as we as a nation benefit or suffer from the wisdom of our choices in the voting booth. This too is patently unfair, but is the nature of democracy. I would encourage you, during elections, to ask candidates what will happen to their chapter without them – it is a fair and important question.
One of the marks of a great leader is that they teach and leave great leaders to follow them. If you see a past Godol or N’siah who leaves behind strong leadership, vote for them (especially if they have accomplished this in a smaller chapter) – because with luck they will bring that same skill and philosophy to the region, and teach it to other chapters.