By Jordain Carney
The Working Press
Delegates from the Society of Professional Journalists elected five national officers at the opening business session Sunday.
And for the first time in recent years, delegates voted for the president position after the president-elect announced her resignation in April.
SPJ does not usually hold an election for the position of president. Members run for president-elect and, if elected, serve one term and become president the following year.
“It [the presidential election] is a very special election. We had to check the bylaws to make sure because we never had this happen before,” said Kevin Smith, SPJ former president and Nominations Committee chair.
Darcie Lunsford, former president-elect, would have been president, but she left the journalism profession to become a real estate agent in southern Florida.
Ennslin, secretary-treasurer at the time, decided to run for Lunsford’s vacated position.
“It came as kind of a surprise to me because I assumed Darcie Lunsford was going to continue,” Ensslin said.
He continued that Lunsford would have been a great president. “However, I’m ready to step into the role, and ready to help lead this organization and find ways that we can all move SPJ forward,” Ensslin said.
According to the SPJ bylaws, board members, committee chairs and chapter presidents are eligible to run for president-elect, but the secretary-treasurer often wins the race.
“Typically you serve on the board, you run for secretary-treasurer, then the next year you run for president-elect and then you get to be president,” Smith said.
“You can run for president-elect but it’s kind of frowned upon because you don’t understand the finance,” he said.
“I think I skipped a year,” Ensslin joked, referring to his jump from secretary-treasurer to president.
Many of the candidates ran unopposed, including the president, president-elect, secretary-treasurer, vice president for campus chapter affairs and a number of regional directors.
“Typically the largest competition is in the student category,” Smith said. “We’ve often said that it’s unfortunate. We wish that the professionals had the drive and compassion [and] desire to run for office the way the students seem to.” Smith was responsible for recruiting candidates for the election.
“We would really love to see more people compete,” he added.
SPJ members and delegates also heard from candidates running for director-at-large and campus representative during Sunday’s meeting. Many spoke about the importance of maintaining and growing SPJ’s numbers.
“Membership has hovered at about 8,000 for the past couple of years, big improvement over the sharp drop that began about mid-decade,” said Albarado, the newly installed SPJ president-elect. “A closer look at the numbers reveals a slight slippage, and that’s worrisome.”
Despite running uncontested for president, Ensslin used a website, www.johnforjournalism.com, to campaign and talk about his views on SPJ-related issues.
“I still felt it was important to let folks know what my thoughts are about SPJ and engage them,” Ensslin said. “I think it’s a healthy way for officers of SPJ to reach out, not only to membership, but to that larger audience because I get a lot of readers that aren’t SPJ members and this is a way to interest them.”
Visit http://spj.org/elecbios.asp for more information on the candidates and elected officers.