On Saturday, a somewhat contentious issue may come up at the state convention. But its path became a lot harder when the Bylaws Committee of the state party decided not to approve a proposal by Kevin Waterman of Queen Anne’s County to revamp the current structure of officers and move from holding two conventions during odd-numbered years to holding just one along with a regional convention.
A summary of the amendment changes, by Waterman:
This amendment is being offered to update and modernize the structure of the State Party in order to better reflect the needs and desires of the Party as it exists today, while incorporating lessons learned from auxiliary organizations such as the MFRW.
There are two chief changes being proposed through this amendment.
The first change is a revision to the structure of the Executive Board. As currently designed we elect 3 vice-chairs, however there is no clear portfolio or responsibilities that fall under their purview other than the duty of the 1st vice-chair to fill in as interim Chair if the Chairman for any reason vacates the office. The proposed revision does away with the 2nd and 3rd vice-chairs and replaces them with a set of regional vice-chairs who will have more clearly delineated duties specific to their regions. These chairs would be elected by the committee members of the region only.
The second change is a revision to the current approach to conventions. As everyone well knows the State Party holds conventions twice a year. These are almost always accompanied by complaints about the expense of travel and lodging twice a year as well as objections to the business sessions. The original version of this amendment called for going from 2 state conventions a year to 1; due to feedback on both issues relating to election of National Committeeman and Committeewoman as well as some concerns about the idea of regional implementations the change is now to 1 state convention in odd numbered years. The shift to regional conventions will reduce travel obligations for committee members, enhance regional camaraderie and political coordination, and allow for conventions and business sessions to be more focused on issues, speakers, and workshops of particular importance to that region. It is hoped that if this revised model is successful we can look to expand and go fully to 1 state convention and 1 regional convention (per region) in all years.
Yes, the Waterman in question is related to our current party chair; Kevin is her son.
Several years ago, at the time I first became involved in the state party, we thought we had voted in regional chairs but someone objected to how the vote was conducted and the matter was subsequently scrubbed. It seems the long-standing objection to this generally comes down to how the regions are divided out. A grouping like the Eastern Shore is fairly easy geographically, but at the time of the discussions we hadn’t reformed the voting system yet and many of the larger counties complained about how our region was far smaller in voting strength than the others but given an equal share of the executive chairs.
Some of the more private complaints I’m aware of deal with the fact that no one wants to be paired up with Montgomery County. Certainly those others who are placed with MoCo in the Western Region (under Waterman’s plan it would be Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick counties) would feel slighted considering there are more members in Montgomery’s committee than in the other four combined. One change which may occur would be to create a region just for Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which may help the proposal pass muster with several counties which would otherwise be included with them in a particular region.
The idea of regional conventions has more merit; in fact, Montgomery County is one county which has its own one-day convention. An Eastern Region convention can be held in several locations, perhaps rotating on a regular basis between locations along the Upper Shore, Mid-Shore, and Lower Shore. Obviously Ocean City would be a popular location as well.
On the whole, I think it’s an idea which should be heard and debated at the convention. We probably will not have any other significant business, so this would be a good time to discuss it. However, knowing how the process goes, the excuse this time will be of the nature that this is the final convention for this term – better to leave this discussion for the next one. And the next convention it will be one of having so much other business like officer elections, so it will be passed on to the spring of next year. Of course, then the officers are in the middle of their terms so why not plan this for closer to the end? And so on, and so forth. We complain about legislators kicking the can down the road, but the Maryland GOP can have a tendency to do the same with controversial ideas.