The Sixth Congressional District Republican Committee met on Saturday, September 14, in Lexington. I was not there. I was helping my dad celebrate his 99th birthday. I’m grateful that Mary Beth Swemba from Augusta County was able to go to the meeting as my proxy. She did a great job.
After the normal opening exercises, the committee went into executive session to discuss some specific, sensitive financial and campaign issues. When the committee came out of executive session, Larry Bandy (Highland County), made a motion that the committee adopt a permanent special rule that limits debate on all motions that come before the committee. Under the rule each person could speak one time for up to three minutes on a main motion and one time for up to a minute on each amendment to a main motion. The chair would be required to alternate permission to speak between those who supported the motion/amendment and those who opposed. Once all individuals on one side of the debate had spoken then the chair would no longer be required to alternate speakers.
Under Robert’s Rules of Order, unless the deliberative body passes a special rule, each speaker can take up to ten minutes on each motion and each amendment. At our previous meeting some people took advantage of that rule to filibuster and delay the proceedings so that a meeting that should have accomplished everything in two hours went four hours and did not cover half the agenda. It was an embarrassment. I did note that one of the most vehement opponents of the special rule had come to the previous meeting with the complete works of George Washington to make sure he had plenty to say when his turn came to stall the meeting. He claimed that because the word “permanent” was in the motion it constituted a bylaw change and should be referred to the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee, which this person chairs. A special rule is not a bylaw, but just to placate the individual, the word “permanent” was removed from the motion and replaced with “until rescinded.” The special rule still applies to all future meetings so that no one can artificially prevent the members from carrying out the business of the district.
Then he tried to fog up the issue of how many votes it would take to pass or rescind a special rule. Robert’s says that it takes either a majority of the total membership or two-thirds of the members present to pass a special rule. There are 32 members of the committee. A majority of those would be 17, so regardless of how many members attend, 17 votes can establish or rescind a special rule. But Robert’ssays there is another way to pass a special rule. A vote of two-thirds of the members (and proxies) present could also pass a special rule. For example, if only 21 people had attended, the rule could pass with a two-thirds vote (14). The lesser number would apply. But since there were 31 members present, the alternate means of passing the rule was not in effect. A simple majority vote was enough. Obviously, a majority of those on the committee wanted to prevent the nonsense of the prior meeting, so the rule passed, which is how a deliberative body is supposed to work.
Ken Srpan, chair of the Roanoke County electoral board was allowed to speak as a guest. He requested that the Committee help recruit election officials to actually run the elections. There is a dire need for Republican election officials in several areas of the District particularly in the cities. Cities in our district have little trouble getting Democrats to work, but we have a rough time recruiting Republicans. Any Virginia registered voter who is at least 21 years old can serve as an election officer anywhere in the state. So anyone who lives in a county can help Republicans in the cities if they will step up and help insure a smooth, accurate, and honest election
Then the committee voted on the method of nomination for our candidate for Congress in 2020. Congressman Ben Cline had told Chairman Brown that he had no preference. The committee then voted to hold a primary – if a challenger emerged. I campaigned on a promise to vote for conventions, and had I been there I would have voted that way. My proxy abstained, but the vote was not close enough for my one vote to have made a difference.
Vance Wilkins (Amherst) brought the final motion that passed prior to adjournment. A year ago, the committee had voted to use the district secretary’s address as our official address on all social media and correspondence, and to allow the secretary the ability to post on our website official calls for unit meetings and events from around the district. That had still not been done. Vance’s motion required that those prior motions be carried out by the district’s webmaster within a week, or the web host administrator would be authorized to do so.
I was pleased that this quarter’s meeting moved much more smoothly than last quarter’s meeting even though there were more contentious issues at this meeting than at the last one. That can only bode well for our candidates.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.