The ins and outs of PBA Local elections

Judiciary Committee Report 

This issue we are going to take a brief recess from pensions. As judiciary chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to address the numerous issues that stem this time of year from nominations, elections and appeals for elective office within your Local PBA.

The president of your PBA is the CEO of your Local and as such runs the daily operations of the Local in accordance with the NJSPBA Constitution and Bylaws. The State Delegate is the “mouthpiece” of the State PBA and provides counsel, direction and assistance to the Local president and the Local organization. All communication between a Local organization and the State PBA comes through the State Delegate unless they give permission for a member to contact the state office directly.

The president is tasked upon election to office with two major tasks, first to form a Local judiciary committee and second, to appoint an election committee. The judiciary committee is a standing committee that consists of five members, from which the president selects the chairperson. This committee should be appointed upon election and two to three alternate members should be selected in case a conflict should arise. The election committee consists of three members appointed by the president, with the chairperson chosen by the committee. The election committee is not a standing committee, but rather should be selected in March or April prior to May nominations in an election year. “There is never a problem until there is an issue,” so make certain that your committees are in place.

Every year, nominations are held at the May meeting, and elections are conducted in June. The president and election committee, specifically the chairperson, should be aware of the nomination and election process prior to the May meeting, and they are encouraged to seek out their State Delegate for guidance. Any member can be nominated for elective office, and under Robert’s Rules, there is no second of a nomination required when it pertains to elective office. The candidate does not need to be present at the meeting to be nominated, but the president of the Local is to contact the absent nominee by the close of the meeting or as soon as practical to see if they accept the nomination.

It is the responsibility of the election committee to investigate a candidate’s eligibility, as per the NJ State PBA Constitution and
Bylaws as well as the selected Local options, only if a candidate’s nomination is challenged within seven days. When a challenge is made to a candidate’s eligibility, it is done on the floor or in writing, at which time the Local’s president refers the challenge to the appointed election committee. If the challenged candidate or the challenger is not satisfied with the decision, it is to be appealed within seven days to the State PBA president. The NJSPBA Judiciary Committee is happy to convene to investigate any members’ issues, especially that of elected office. However, a Local PBA should be afforded the opportunity to “handle their own business” prior to the State PBA intervening.

Elections are to be held in June, and their rules, Article XII Section 14 (Local Association Election Rules) of the NJ State PBA Constitution and Bylaws, are instituted at the sole discretion of the Local’s election committee. The committee is responsible for conducting a fair and impartial election consistent with the state bylaws. The location, manner of voting, date of operation, duration, absentee ballot distribution and procedure will be posted, with all questions to be directed to the election chairperson. The president’s only duty regarding the election procedure is to post a meeting notice at least 10 days prior to the June meeting to announce the results. The election should end on the day of the meeting, and the results should be tabulated and announced on the day of or at the June meeting. For example, the meeting starts at 1700 hours and the voting ends at 1730 hours, which affords members the opportunity to vote at their meeting — because all members should attend their monthly meetings unless excused by the president.

The election committee, along with any candidate’s poll watcher, counts the votes at the meeting, and the president announces the results. The election process or anything pertaining to the election should first be challenged to the Local election committee within seven days and then to the State PBA president if a resolution is not reached. Again, a Local PBA should be afforded the opportunity to “handle their own business” prior to the State PBA intervening.

Every member differs in personality, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. We have all experienced the good ones and the bad ones. Most issues arise from a lack of communication and transparency and/or a clash of personalities. We all have perceptions, and our own views as to how things should be done. We are all different and must put those differences aside to work together for the good of our membership. We tend to hold other people to our standards or to the way we do things. However, this is an impossible task, as everyone’s abilities and knowledge differ. We must accept these situations and move on. We all like to think that we do a good job and work in the best interests of our members, but the only real way to tell is at election time, when our membership decides.

I implore every member to educate themselves with regard to the bylaws and seek clarification through their State Delegate for matters that need interpretation. We are a fraternal organization and governed by the NJ State PBA Constitution and Bylaws, which although confusing at times, are a road map that if understood, properly interpreted, followed and coupled with communication will alleviate most issues that Locals encounter.

I reiterate one final piece of information: There is never a problem until there is an issue. It may have been done in a certain way in the past, but that does not mean that it was done correctly; it could simply mean that nobody challenged it.