Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a five-part series explaining the Government Relations (GR) Committee Presidential candidate recommendation process.
The recommendation process used by NEA-New Hampshire has been in place for many years and has been used countless times to make recommendations in the past for federal, state and local offices. The Government Relations (GR) Committee is responsible for producing these recommendations and forwarding them to the Executive Board for approval and action. This process is not new and was not modified in any way for this election cycle.
The GR Committee is a standing committee of the Executive Board, consisting of 15 to 20 members. Voting committee members include teachers, education support professionals and retired members appointed by the NEA-NH president and approved by the Executive Board. The nomination and approval process of Committee members takes place prior to June, traditionally well ahead of presidential candidate announcements. NEA-NH staff members also attend GR Committee meetings but cannot vote on GR matters.
The GR Committee conducts candidate interviews, evaluates candidate’s positions in regards to education policy and forwards any recommendations to the Executive Board. It is up the the Executive Board to accept any recommendation and then act upon it, by announcing the recommendation, rejecting the recommendation, or voting to do nothing with the recommendation.
The NEA-New Hampshire Executive Board consists of NEA-NH members who have been directly elected by members in their region. Teachers, education support professionals and retired members are fully represented on the Board. Leadership positions, including president, vice-president, and secretary/treasurer, are directly elected by NEA-NH members, and are not appointed by the Executive Board. NEA-NH president, vice-president and treasurer are also considered to be Executive Board members.
The recommendation process we use is in place to take advantage of New Hampshire’s unique position as first-in-the-nation primary holder. This position allows New Hampshire citizens early access to candidates, and our organization a chance to communicate to those candidates our position on matters important to our members. NEA-NH is the largest association of public employees in the state. Our recommendation does indeed have worth to a candidate, but more importantly, our ability to sit with each candidate, ask questions and report back to our members is even more valuable. We believe this process allows us to look beyond stump speeches and commercials, and more deeply into the candidate’s position on our issues.
The process is not a popularity contest or a method designed to survey our members to find who a majority of them support. It is designed to find out, face-to-face, where candidates stand on our issues, and then recommend to our members the candidate who the Committee believes would best serve our students, our members and public education. The Committee does not look at issues beyond public education and public sector collective bargaining rights.