Neighborhood meeting didnt allow local election
On Wednesday night (June 6) I walked into a Palisades Neighborhood Association general meeting and was greeted by the treasurer, vice-chair and chair - none of whom recognized me. I recognized each of them knew their names and remembered various opinions they had espoused at past PNA general meetings and PNA plan meetings.
I arrived at this meeting with prepared statements about my past community volunteer experience, my connections with the community and my visions for our neighborhood. I had come to this meeting expecting to run for the position of chair of the neighborhood association.
The PNA by-laws state that elections will be held on the third Thursday of April. Those were postponed and June 6 was the new elections date.
A handful of neighbors and I had gotten together when we got word of the June 6 election. We envisioned an active association with representation from each of the 13 PNA areas. We put our heads together over the PNA map and came up with names of people from each of the 13 areas who were actively involved in the community. We made some calls and ended up with 17 PNA residents who were excited about the opportunity to run for office and represent their neighborhood.
We decided to start walking our neighborhoods and asking our neighbors to attend the June 6 meeting and vote for us or to sign a proxy vote if they couldn't attend the meeting. Following proper procedures, we each called the PNA treasurer and asked to be put on the election ballot.
We each prepared statements of qualification, vision and why we were running. We expected a lively challenge from our opponents and were prepared to defend our position. Then we expected the group to vote and for the best man to win. We agreed that if our opponents received more votes than any of us did, they deserved to win.
Unfortunately, none of us were able to give our qualifications or vision to the group at the PNA general meeting. Upon arriving at the meeting, the vice-chair informed me that the election had been postponed because the current chair, Paul Ostroff, decided that it would be. Paul Ostroff told me that we were in violation of the PNA by-laws.
With my copies of the PNA by-laws and the Oregon's Public Meetings Law in hand, I insisted confidently that we were in full compliance.
Word quickly got out that there was not going to be a vote and neighbors who were at their childrens' games and school events, who had signed proxy votes and had assumed their vote was being counted, left their games and open houses and came streaming into the general meeting demanding the vote that they had been promised.
Not surprisingly, the sitting board did not recognize the overflow crowd's request.
Those of us who had hoped to run for a position on the PNA board were accused of having an agenda. Since I was never able to give my qualifications or vision as part of the election, I will take this opportunity to present my agenda:
My agenda is to serve on a neighborhood association where every neighbor is recognized and listened to with respect.
The current PNA board didn't recognize me, didn't recognize motions from the floor, didn't recognize a full-house crowd's request to vote and hasn't recognized a dissenting opinion from their neighbor at any meeting that I've attended. They didn't hold an election in April as they are required to in their by-laws and they didn't hold an election again in June. That is why I will still run for the position of chair of the PNA. Every neighbor is entitled to be recognized by their neighborhood association board.
Sally Moncrieff is a member of the Palisades Neighborhood Association of Lake Oswego.