A marathon meeting of the museum society produced an entire new board of directors after heated debate in a packed room Tuesday afternoon.
After three-and-a-half hours of sometimes-nasty discussion over a number of topics, including who was allowed to vote in the board elections, former museum manager Buddy Williams was victorious over incumbent Ken Welwood in the election for the position of president of the Parksville and District Historical Society.
The house of cards for the incumbents then fell, as they were either defeated or withdrew their names for the remaining board positions. The society oversees the museum, the grounds and the artifacts, and has more than $1.5 million in the bank after a large bequest a few years ago.
There were about 70 people packed into the museum for the society’s annual general meeting Tuesday. Long-time members told The NEWS these annual general meetings often attracted less than 20 people in the past.
Even before the meeting began, there were angry exchanges in the lobby about who was going to be allowed to vote in the elections. At issue were interpretations of the society’s bylaws, its constitution and the B.C. Societies Act. Long-time members told The NEWS these annual general meetings often attracted less than 20 people in the past.
In the end, it was vice-president Cam Harrison who shook the impasse loose, suggesting everyone in the room who is a paid member should be allowed to vote, a change in the stance he had taken only minutes earlier when he stood firmly with his colleagues on the former board.
“Let’s get on with getting this museum moving,” said Harrison, who later removed his name from the ballot for re-election as vice-president. “I guess we’re all going to vote and to hell with the bylaws. Why don’t we have an election and if you’re not happy with what we’ve done, boot us out.”
New president Williams tried to reach out to everyone after his election.
“I don’t want to exclude anyone, there’s been too much of that around here,” said Williams. “I’m hoping you can all work with me.”
After Harrison withdrew his name for vice-president, Pippa Olivier was acclaimed for that position. Richard Kellow withdrew his name for second vice-president, and Craig Carmichael was acclaimed. Lynn Brown withdrew her name for the treasurer’s position, and Peter Kawerau was acclaimed. Aileen Fabris won an election for secretary over incumbent Marilyn Dingsdale and both David Haynes and Rosemary Williams were acclaimed for director positions.
The new board mirrors a list called the New Slate that was provided to The NEWS before the meeting Tuesday. The New Slate also listed the museum manager as Colleen Parsley, so it’s unclear whether the new board will go through a competition and/or traditional hiring process for that position.
Archiving/cataloguing issues, programming, the use of grant money and the general openness of the society board seemed to be the issues that fired up the New Slate candidates and their supporters.