Election Rejection – What Now?
Is it too soon to reflect upon the Federal Election and its connection to strata?
Call us sadistic if you will, the fact remains, we find the most fascinating part of Election Night the concession speeches. It is in those moments where the candidates shed the weeks, months and years of carefully prepared talking points and image building to reveal the truth and enormity of the moment.
For some, the concession speech is a chance to bow out with grace and dignity. Like him or loathe him, Scott Morrison did just that. Then you have the Former Treasurer, whose concession sounded like a victory celebration. Or, there’s this concession tweet with a pointed (some might say barbed) remark to the victor.
One thing unites all these moments: rejection. Having put oneself up to the people, each candidate was denied. Whether in politics, or in love, rejection must be one of the hardest things to experience as a human being.
So it is also with strata. When you put yourself for nomination to a strata committee, you are submitting yourself to the whim of the voters. Voting does not come with a requirement to exercise reason, rationality, or any discernible thought process. Eligible voters can vote for whomever they want, based on whatever preconceived ideas they want or motivated by any number of things, including jealousy, revenge, or money. All that makes it tough for a committee nominee to put themselves up for election and then not make it, especially if they are well credentialed and have a lot of constructive ideas for the scheme.
Put another way: rejection stings.
You would hope that the vanquished strata committee candidate would take it on the chin, swallow their pride and decide to keep on working for the benefit of the scheme anyway. Yet far too often, we have seen the negative consequences of strata rejection. That manifests from the defeated in ways including:
- White anting: actively agitating against the elected committee to suggest they are performing poorly or are not up to the job, usually by reaching out to other owners and trying to convince them of same;
- Bombarding: inundating the elected committee with emails, requests, and demands which soak up much of the committee’s time;
- Challenging: disputing nomination, election, or general meeting processes on a technicality, requiring the body corporate to expend considerable time and resources on responding; and
- Not participating: refusing to participate in body corporate business, including refusing to vote, return papers or respond to reasonable requests.
These responses make sense, up to a point. They are emotional and instinctive reactions to a strong trigger. Yet these reactions have the net effect of creating disharmony and discord in the scheme. There is also another impact: it hardens the negativity within the rejected person and primes them to react poorly to other body corporate situations. Think of it as an equation:
I got rejected by the voters at the AGM + now, some of those same people want me to comply with a by-law = no way, Jose…
So, what is the answer? Obviously, it would be great if the vanquished candidate could move on and accept the will of the people. That is tough to do, though, and telling someone to ‘harden up, Princess’ rarely has the desired effect.
Instead, we would suggest thinking about both the short and long term. Short-term, it is possible (highly likely in some schemes) that a committee member will resign, or otherwise no longer be eligible (e.g., they sell – quite possible in the current market) and then it is open to the committee to appoint one of the unsuccessful candidates to the committee. Or other owners might seek to remove committee members via ordinary resolution at an extraordinary general meeting, which would in turn be the opportunity to accept the committee position which results. Read here for further information about removing committee members. And if you are not sure about the basics of strata elections and committee eligibility, this article will fill in some gaps.
Longer-term, keep in mind our Federal Election discussion earlier. Some candidates do not get elected at the first attempt, but their efforts reduce the margin, create a profile, and set them up nicely for potential victory the next time around. Remember also there is no prohibition on lobbying within your strata scheme, so you can spend time leading up to the next annual general meeting canvassing support of other owners for your anticipated nomination. Strata Solve has been engaged many times to assist in this regard. Is that a crassly self-interested thing to do? Well, yes – but remember, strata is all about self-interest.
And really, that says so much about strata rejection. It goes right to the heart of self-interest and how an individual views themselves and their contributions. We say that if you can take rejection in the most optimal and constructive way possible, that is infinitely more positive and beneficial for you than any of the negative and destructive reactions we noted earlier. Always remember how sweet it is for the defeated candidate to achieve their victory the next time around. To paraphrase an old saying, success is a dish sometimes best consumed cold.
This article was contributed by Chris Irons, Strata Solve
This is a thought provoking article. Well written.
I just wonder about your comment in the second last paragraph where you state that “strata is all about self interest”. This may well be what the reality is in strata, but one would like to believe, as I do, that as a strata committee member one should attempt to treat all lot owners just as equally as you would seek to have yourself treated. Obviously we don’t live in a perfectly harmonious utopia.
Thanks Rod. I guess what I was trying to say is that self-interest is always going to be the primary motivator – it has to be, given the substantial investment which has been made – although being more broadly interested (altruistic, even) in the scheme’s progress is absolutely a close second.
I agree with Rodney….a committee should be there to serve all equally and with ethics, respect and common sense. I agree with Chris, it is certainly all about self interest for many committee members and the best people may have difficulty being elected. Having some caretaker lobby against you, particularly if you have put effort into studying finances and legislation, is a massive compliment …it means you are educated, prepared to serve owners and are probably ethical. The committee members who have a significant number of votes and generally win easily are firstly caretaker or committee buddies, new to the building, interstate or overseas if possible, rental pool, rarely voted personally or often gave their proxy to caretaker or chairman, were never seen before the election at meetings, rarely attended committee meetings once elected and were certainly never seen after the 12 month period even if the remained on the Body Corporate. My advice is just keep trying because eventually a caretaker will underestimate your persistence and bingo you get elected and people soon appreciate your efforts. On a practical level, put your nomination in at the very last minute and ask the next day for the list on nominees so late nominees can’t be inserted…..a common practise if no one checks. Sadly in many buildings, (and I believe it is not true in all buildings ) “it is what it is”.
Thanks for your thoughts Sandra
Everyone must realize that all the negativity that ends up in the minutes (annual or committee) could be a real hindrance to incoming owners to shy away from going ahead with the purchase when the minutes are read during their due diligence.
Exactly, Graham. Far too many people, in my experience anyway, overlook this crucial fact.