We at FairVote Minnesota are proud and excited to announce the addition of four new board members thought leaders from the business and nonprofit sectors who bring a wide range of experiences, skills, and perspectives to the critical work of voting reform. Were grateful these visionaries have committed to sharing their time, energy, and expertise with us as we help prepare St. Paul for another successful RCV election, work to pass the RCV local options bill, help Duluthians adopt and implement RCV for local elections, and assist other Minnesota cities including Crystal and Brooklyn Park in exploring Ranked Choice Voting. Join us in welcoming Gail Dorfman, Matt Lewis, Tim Penny, Jack Uldrich, and Jim Watkins to the FairVote Minnesota board of directors.
Gail Dorfman is executive director of St. Stephens Human Services and was recently appointed by Gov. Dayton to the Metropolitan Council. A widely recognized leader on issues related to homelessness, Dorfman served for 14 years as the Hennepin County Commissioner representing District 3. She led numerous initiatives aimed at ending homelessness, including creating the Hennepin County Affordable Housing Incentive Fund, leading the Heading Home Hennepin Collaborative, and launching Project Homeless Connect.
Prior to serving on the Hennepin County Commission, Dorfman served the city of St. Louis Park as a city councilor and, later, as mayor. She holds a masters degree in public administration from Harvard Universitys Kennedy School of Government.
"Im excited about Ranked Choice Votings capacity to improve participation among and representation for those who've historically been voiceless in our system, Dorfman says. RCV makes it easier for all eligible voters to take part in the important work of choosing our leaders. And it helps keep those leaders accountable to the whole electorate, rather than just those with the most means and influence."
Matt Lewis is a Strategy Manager at GREATER MSP, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership, and serves as communications cochair of the Citizens League. He earned his MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and his Master of Public Policy from the University's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
He has served as a staff writer at the Center for Public Integrity, as press secretary for the Tom Horner for Governor campaign, and was a board member of the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign. Lewis also has worked in public affairs at Xcel Energy and consulted for Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations. Lewis also is an active member of the Minneapolis Rotary.
"If we're going to fix our political system we're going to do it from the ground up -- community by community, Lewis says. The work that FairVote is doing is empowering citizens to really take control of improving their democratic process locally. As more and more communities see the benefits of implementing RCV I don't know what it will mean for any political party. But I know it will mean great things for the state of Minnesota."
Tim Penny is president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. A former Congressman who, as a moderate DFLer, represented the First District and later was the 2002 Independence Party candidate for governor, he has a longstanding reputation as a budget hawk.
Penny is also a senior fellow at the University of Minnesotas Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and serves on the advisory board of the Us Institute for Law and Politics. He has authored/coauthored four books and writes frequently for the Star Tribune, MinnPost and other publications.
Our plurality system of voting actively cultivates ideological extremism and obstinacy, Penny says. Ranked Choice Voting, by contrast, rewards candidates who represent a broad majority instead of ideologues beholden to a narrow, fanatical base.
Jack Ulrich is a global futurist, speaker, bestselling author, and the former chair of the Independence Party of Minnesota. Hes served as an adviser to Fortune 500 companies and spoken to hundreds of businesses and organizations about emerging technologies and trends; his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, the Futurist, the Star Tribune and numerous other regional and national periodicals. Uldrich has also been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.
Saving democracy requires big-picture thinking, including implementation of Ranked Choice Voting at the state and national levels, Uldrich says. This not only would give voters more choice and power, it would eliminate the wasted vote syndrome; reduce the role of money in campaigns, and foster greater civility, compromise and consensus-building to address our states critical issues.
Jim Watkins is cofounder and managing director of development at Sociable Cider Werks, the Twin Cities first craft cidery. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Carleton College, where he studied economics with concentrations in Spanish and political economy.
Watkins worked in Citibanks sales and trading division in New York City before joining the 2009 teaching corps with Teach for America in Miami. During his time at Miami Central Senior High, the school received national attention for students and staff members commitment to improving academic performance, and in 2010 Watkins was nominated for Miami-Dade County Rookie Teacher of the Year for his work teaching math. An avid outdoorsman, Watkins is passionate about civic life and political engagement.
"Using Ranked Choice Voting is an intensely liberating experience. Instead of cornering the voter into choosing the 'least bad' option, it allows a vote on principle for that first choice, and then leaves the room to make a pragmatic second-choice selection, Watkins says. RCV gives a truer representation of voter temperature, and the result is a roadmap to direct policymakers."