AFSA Election Goes Undiplomatic?

A big election is just down the corner for Foreign Service folks — the AFSA Governing Board is up for election for the 2009-2011 term. Some 40 days to go before the ballots are counted, and the campaign buzz is heating up and not nicely, I must say.

E3 Team AFSA 2009: Experience, Equity, Excellence
claims that the Clean Slate endorsements are misleading. It looks like two individuals complained that their endorsements were misrepresented. One says the slate endorsement “appears to be a gross misrepresentation,” and another says she “strenuously object to the use of my name.” E3 Team AFSA has a screaming green link to “CLEAN SLATE ENDORSEMENTS ARE MISLEADING.” And in case you miss the point, it adds: On their website and in their mailings, Clean Slate lists numbers of endorsements. That is not a race that we have entered, but here are some comments from people who were listed in earlier Clean Slate e mailings as having endorsed the Clean Slate or individuals on it.

Look it up
here, see what you’re missing.

Its website has a
Guest Book with one entry. Seven endorsements have also been posted. I would not count “Great info Mark, thank you for the post – good to see specialists running for AFSA – keep us posted on what happens. Department of State: Information Resource Management Facebook page April 2, 2009” as official endorsement if I were you — the writer might complain.

Some E3 Team AFSA links that might interest you: Who We Are and What We Believe – the latter page includes items on The Equity Imperative and Standards for Excellence. I wonder what happened to Experience, the first of the 3Es.

Susan R. Johnson
(Maintains a TS Security Clearance) , a Foreign Service officer since 1979 is the top candidate for the E3 Team AFSA 2009 slate. She is a Senior FS Officer who has served twice as DCM (Romania and Mauritius) and who received the DCM of the Year Award in 2002. You can read more about her in the Women’s History Month page and her OHR bio from 2004. Diana Page (Maintains a TS Security Clearance) is also running in the same slate for State VP, as well as a few others whose last names did not include the “Maintains a TS Security Clearance” as surnames.

The other team running in this election is the
CLEAN Slate (Courageous Leadership, Effective Action – Now). It promises to: A) Represent AFSA’s Members More Transparently, B) Secure Needed Resources and Better Management and C) Resolutely Defend Your Rights. Its platform is spelled out here. It calls its opponents “dedicated, distinguished professionals whom we are proud to call colleagues and friends” but points out to the major differences between the two slates including the fact that 11 of its 18 members are mid-level employees. And this not too subtle dig: “none of us has made AFSA a “second career.”

CLEAN Slate page also includes a running a counter of endorsement, currently at 85. The other candidates running in this slate are here; none of them have the extended “TS” surnames, in case you’re interested. It also has a page on How to Vote.

David Firestein
, a Foreign Service officer since 1992, is running at the top of the CLEAN slate ticket. You can read more about him here and here. In 2008, Firestein was appointed as senior advisor at the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. In 2006, he won the prestigious “Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach.” David Daniel M. Hirsh is also running in the same slate as State VP. He is probably the slate’s most controversial candidate – you can read Dead Men Working’s posts here, here and here. Daniel Hirsh himself recently posted in his blog An Open Letter To My DS Colleagues after a specific email has been circulated in what he says is an attempt to portray him as “a person hostile to DS.”

Okay, if you’re an election hound and up for some more of this — go visit the election forum here. Somebody posted: “In order for you guys to winn you must stop using your negative tactics.” Another one said, “I have just been watching your campaign get dirtier and dirtier. And the latest email just adds even more filth.[…]Thanks for showing your true colors!”

{Update 5/4}: I should add that the two comments above and a couple more have been posted on the election forum thread of E3 Team AFSA but no similar complaints appears on the other slate. I understand that candidates may not always have full control over what their surrogates write or say, but I also think that it is a sign of a good and strong leadership to be able to set the right tone and limits in a heated campaign. I am hoping that Team AFSA and the CLEAN Slate would utilize more fully the purpose of the AFSA online forum during this election campaign. I think this would be one way for members to assess the potential responsiveness of all candidates, as well as an opportunity for everyone to engage in an active discussion on the state of the Foreign Service. I see that the mandatory age retirement (MAR) has been discussed in the CLEAN Slate page; I would like to see similar discussions on other topics on both slates. I can read perfectly the campaign platforms, thank you very much — but I and other folks would like to see that give and take discussion online and on the record. {end of this update}

Seems like there are more election emails in circulation, is that allowed? Character assassination and red herrings have allegedly entered this year’s campaign toolbox, also.

Seriously folks, you’re all diplomats — fight hard and strong on the issues, but be dignified, do it nicely – you might scare the children.

The AFSA by-laws are here. See item V on the Governing Board.

Updated 5/1:
Thanks to Diplopundit reader, Mike for correcting me on the name of the State VP candidate for the CLEAN slate. The candidate’s name is Daniel M. Hirsch not David as I ‘ve previously posted here. Apologies, not enough sleep and too much java. I must also add that there is a third candidate running for State VP. Katherine Hadda is running as a non-slate/independent candidate; she has 20 years experience in the FS (see p.7 of AFSA News Special Election Edition). She writes: “I hope you will vote for me, but even if you don’t, please vote! How will we get management to take us seriously if we don’t make ourselves heard?”

And you know she’s right. Go, fill out your ballot now before you forget it in your incoming box.