January 26, 2023

Whole Community News

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After Far West election questions, neighborhoods offer support

3 min read
After the city paused Far West elections, neighborhood leaders offered to help.

As the Far West neighborhood reactivates, questions about their elections. Speaking at the Neighborhood Leaders Council Nov. 29, Thia Bell.

[00:00:08] Thia Bell (Friendly Area Neighbors): Since Cindy’s here, I maybe at some point on the agenda there could be an item that addresses what happened to Far West neighborhood reactivation and what kinds of issues all neighborhoods may need to address when they hold their elections process, because there were complaints and issues raised. And there seems to be a lot of questions going on as to what happened with Far West Neighborhood rejoining the city’s activated neighborhoods.

[00:00:39] Cindy Koehler (City Office of Equity and Community Engagement): So, we did not have any staff supporting their elections process, which is really unfortunate.

[00:00:45] So, they had an elections committee that was set up and they were trying to do the hybrid with in-person voting and then also online voting. So they had a QR code that people could use to vote, and from what I hear from different people is, there were some concerns that people were voting twice— they were voting actually in person and then also using the QR code to vote; that multiple people ran for multiple positions; and there was a lot of confusion and there were a lot of emails that went around including our elected officials.

[00:01:15] So we decided to hit the pause button and have an elections committee that is not comprised of people who are running for office and actually take a look at the meeting minutes and find out which positions were not contested, and allow those board members to be in their positions.

[00:01:37] And any positions that were contested, we’re going to do a redo on that election and city staff will be there to help support that.

[00:01:47] Rene Kane (Jefferson Westside Neighbors): So, historically the NLC has provided support for new neighborhood associations or for reactivating dormant neighborhood associations.

[00:01:57] So, I’d say if you have a need, reach out because, you know, there’s a couple centuries of experience right here (laughing).

[00:02:11] Jon Belcher (River Road Community Organization): We held our general election last March with over 170 people voting. We used a piece of software that allowed people to vote, we also captured individuals’ votes as well who signed in in the chat. And we even had a vote that we recorded from Mexico.

[00:02:30] John Q: From the RRCO elections March 14:

[00:02:34] Jon Belcher: So I am about to post the URL electionrunner.com— There it is. So you should see in the chat—

[00:02:42] Mary Byrnes: Hey, Jon, this is Mary. Jon, can you hear me? This is Mary Byrnes. I’m in Mexico, so she probably—the phone is kind of wonky. Can I call her instead or can she email me?

[00:02:59] Jon Belcher: That’s the one we hadn’t anticipated, Mary, but I think we can work through it.

[00:03:04] John Q: And they did. At the NLC meeting Nov. 29:

[00:03:09] Jon Belcher: So if you’re interested in that software, I can send that off. It does cost about $30 for an election.

[00:03:16] Cindy Koehler: About $30, okay. So the outreach funds could be used to support that, and I am very much interested in that.

[00:03:26] Tai Pruce-Zimmerman (Active Bethel Community): On that note, I’ll add, ABC certainly has interest in seeing our neighbors in Far West successfully reactivate. (Right.) And we ourselves reactivated recently enough that we still have institutional knowledge of that process within our board. So we’re happy to help however we can.

[00:03:43] Cindy Koehler: Thank you. That would be great, thank you.

[00:03:45] John Q: As the city works to activate all neighborhood associations, the NLC offers support.

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