Being not part of the dense WEA circular backslapping bureaucracy, I’ve offered my candidacy in a fairly unorthodox manner. The approved and expected route to higher position in WEA is to patiently and in sequence run for and hold offices of ever-increasing importance. And then obsequiously to collect as many endorsements from a very select group of 1200 voting delegates (85% of who are returnees, lifers) as possible. We’ve all seen the political ads where there are dozens and dozens of endorsers, usually appended with very important titles. I received one recently from a current candidate and I swear there were so many names that I think I saw the Dalai Lama’s name and maybe Bugs Bunny, too.
Establishment candidates are well-schooled in the election procedure—purchasing and distributing all sorts of bric-a-brac (pens, candy, granola bars, full-color fliers on expensive paper), renting hospitality rooms, touring the state’s 21 UniServ councils, etc. There’s even a drawing for tables at the convention center to distribute campaign materials and if your name is drawn you get first pick! One former candidate told me that a traditional campaign costs about $15,000.
At his invitation (an invitation he extended to all candidates), I had dinner this week with WEA’s Executive Director John Okamoto. His purpose was to answer questions about the WEA governance and administrative structures, and to get to know potential office holders. (The WEA is run by an Executive Committee and a Board of Directors, and the present president, Mary Lindquist is proposing reducing the size of the Board, while simultaneously reducing the number and nature of UniServ councils).
The only candidate John had not worked with directly is me.
I am running as an outsider, as someone who has not made his entire life’s ambition advancement through and endorsement by the WEA bureaucracy. My attention has been on my members, my advocacy is for them. I’m neither sycophant nor operative. I am a classroom teacher. It’s time that WEA has some fresh leadership outside of the company choir.