Names of at least two nominees will be made public on February 1, 2016.
Delegates wait to vote in the 2009 UUA presidential election. The 2017 General Assembly will elect the next UUA president. (© Nancy Pierce)
On February 1, 2016, the Unitarian Universalist Association Presidential Search Committee will announce the names of at least two candidates it has chosen as nominees to run for UUA president in 2017. The announcement will launch the public campaign to succeed the Rev. Peter Morales, whose term ends in June 2017 at the UUA General Assembly in New Orleans. The UUA president is the chief executive officer of the Association and is its primary spokesperson.
The seven-member Presidential Search Committee was authorized by the 2010 UUA General Assembly and charged with selecting at least two nominees for president. GA also shortened the president’s term of office from two four-year terms to a single six-year term, beginning with the president elected in 2017.
The committee’s formal announcement will be made after the Spring edition of UU World has gone to press. News about the race and profiles of the candidates will appear first on uuworld.org, beginning in February. Watch for full coverage in the print magazine starting with the Summer issue in June 2016.
In earlier UUA elections, candidates for the office of president have always been self-selected. They have typically been ministers of large congregations or staff members of the UUA. One goal of the search committee is to help broaden the circle of candidates. To that end, it created a job description for the president to help those interested in running better understand what the job entails.
The committee received applications for nomination through July 15, 2015. Since then, the committee has met monthly, in closed session, to discuss the applicants, narrow the slate, conduct reference checks, and do interviews. The committee will make its decision in November, but won’t make an announcement until February in order to give nominees time to inform their employers or congregations.
Also in February, people interested in running for president by petition—which gives those not chosen by the search committee an opportunity to run—can begin the process of gathering the signatures of 25 member congregations, as outlined in the UUA bylaws.
No one knows how many candidates will enter the race. Two candidates—each the senior minister of a large congregation—ran for the presidency in 2008–2009, when Morales won. Eight years earlier, three candidates, all ministers on the UUA staff, entered the race won by the Rev. William G. Sinkford, but one candidate dropped out early. Back in 1969, seven candidates ran to succeed the UUA’s first president, the Rev. Dana Greeley; the Rev. Robert Nelson West won that election.
UUA employees are not allowed to publicly support any candidate for president, said the Rev. Harlan Limpert, UUA chief operating officer.
For more information about UUA elections, visit UUA.org/uuagovernance/elections. The presidential search committee’s website is uupresidentialsearch.wordpress.com.
Updated 11.19.15: Earlier versions of this story, including the one in the Winter 2015 edition, said the Presidential Search Committee would select its nominees in December. The search committee met to complete the selection of nominees on November 12.
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.
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