Election ballot deserves support to strengthen institute leadership role

Voting for the general assembly and senior institute posts is taking place until the end of the month and offers a chance to choose the best candidates to be advocates for the profession, explains Ann Skippers.

Ah yes. The item on the top of my things to do list says "vote". It's that time of year again, folks - choosing candidates for the top institute posts of junior vice-president, the executive board and the general assembly.

I have always felt it hugely important to use any vote I am given not least because the country is a democracy and I believe that you can't complain about stuff if you haven't voted in the election.

These two principles equally apply to the RTPI. After all the RTPI is a membership organisation.

It is therefore important to vote for those colleagues who will ensure that the organisation maintains and strengthens its position and reputation nationally and internationally and who will be strong advocates for planning and lead the RTPI.

I have a vision for the general assembly. Next year I would like to build on this year's bumper crop of candidates and have even more people wanting to stand.

It is an important and critical role. The job of the general assembly is to be the debating chamber giving our board of trustees a steer on policy matters.

It ensures that the board demonstrates that often elusive, but absolutely critical, collective leadership of the organisation. It is general assembly members who in turn vote for the board. And it is the board members who are collectively responsible for the well-being of the RTPI.

There are 18 corporate members standing for the 14 places on general assembly voted for by all corporate members. Six student or licentiate members are standing for the three places available to them with the electoral college being all students and licentiate members.

The general assembly meets three or four times a year, usually in London. There is often a cri de coeur to hold the meetings elsewhere and while I personally feel it is important to go out of London for at least one of the meetings, what is more important is that we have professionals from all the different parts of the UK and other countries feeding into the institute and making it stronger.

It is also important that the general assembly reflects our private, public and third sector membership as well as the gender and age profile of our profession. Everyone has something unique to offer.

It is a wonderful opportunity to make a contribution. Even if you haven't stood for election yourself this year, the least you can do is to vote for the people who have put their heads above the parapet. Who do you want to represent you?

And talking about those of us who have put our heads above the parapet to inspire, support, challenge and cajole the institute, this year we have three candidates for the junior vice-president role.

This is the person who will automatically become chair of the board of trustees in his senior vice-presidential year and president in 2013. He will become the figurehead and ambassador for the RTPI and represent our 23,000 members on a worldwide stage.

The leadership of the RTPI is hugely important. There is a real opportunity to influence the agenda by serving as a general assembly member, a trustee or part of the presidential team. This presents an opportunity to work with people from all regions and from a diverse range of backgrounds and to contribute to the planning agenda.

So it is really important to participate in these elections. This year there is no excuse as for the first time you can vote electronically. The elections will be conducted by email and by post, with members given the choice of which method to use.

Ballots are conducted using the single transferable vote system, and voting takes place from 1 to 30 November. The results will be announced in Planning and in other communications to the membership.

Please don't waste this opportunity. The people who have put themselves forward are dedicated professionals willing to give up their time and energy to volunteer for the institute. This level of commitment is staggering. With them, the institute is a lot richer in its outlook, its ability to make things happen and its capacity to stand up for planning and be a leader in the field.

So if you usually vote, thank you. It really does matter and please vote again this year. If you don't usually vote, please vote. It is for the future of your institute.

Ann Skippers is RTPI president.

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