It's that time of year again: Time for Active Members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America to cast their ballots. SFWA Elections 2013 is upon us. Candidates have been declared, platforms have been presented, and your ballot, should you be eligible to receive and vote one, will soon be winging its way toward you.
For those not familiar, the SFWA is "a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres." They are a fantastic resource for members and non-members alike. Among their more prominent features are the Writer Beware blog (see also those posts hosted at A. C. Crispen's blogspot, as there are even more Writer Beware posts there), their vast and comprehensive Author Information Center, and the annually awarded Nebulas. SFWA responds to member complaints of publishers behaving badly--for example, breaches of contract, royalty nonpayment, unethical treatment of authors--evaluating these complaints and issuing alerts, and helps wronged authors seek legal recourse. Their Emergency Medical Fund has quite literally been a lifesaver for members in dire need.
To put this in a local context, the Boulder/Denver area falls within SFWA's Western Region. The current Western Regional Director is Jim Fiscus, who recently held a regional meeting during MileHiCon 2012. Among other things, a regional meeting helps to disseminate info to and gather concerns from those members unable to make it to the big SWFA meeting at WorldCon.
Authors qualify for Active Membership by virtue of "three qualifying short-story sales, a qualifying novel sale, or one professionally produced full-length dramatic script." Active Membership is required to be eligible to vote for officers or run for office. Your Examiner is an Associate Member by virtue of a single qualifying sale, and is not eligible to vote. Thus she participates vicariously by urging you, should you be eligible, to review the candidates' platforms (as well as their responses to questions posed them on the SFWA forum) and cast your vote according to ballot instructions.
All the contests for office are worth your time and consideration, and some will be surely represent a difficult choice for you. (Jim C. Hines has threatened severe consequences involving rubber chickens should any member vote for him over Lee Martindale for South-Central Regional Director purely on the basis of his being "better known." You have been warned.) However, the contest that's the most talked about right now, and potentially of highest stakes, is that for President.
The current member holding that office, John Scalzi, has decided to step down after several years of admirable volunteer service. And the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring was one Theodore Beale, aka "Vox Day," the author of such memorable blog posts as "Women Ruin Everything" and "Why Women's Rights are Wrong." For links to these works of prose, it is recommended you visit a blog post that Jim C. Hines published in response. You might also visit Scalzi's blog wherein he initiates a fund drive based around Beale's, erm, preoccupation with the current SFWA President. (The Vox Day blogspot sidebars a small list of other authors'/bloggers' sites designated as "target-rich environments," whom he encourages his regulars to harass. This results in Scalzi having to spend a lot more of his hours playing Mallet The Troll in his blog comments than anyone with a life as busy as his should have to spend.)
Beale is not running unopposed. Author Steven Gould, whose works include 7th Sigma and Jumper, has posted his platform here. Gould is also an instructor at Viable Paradise, where I can state from first hand knowledge that he does good. He's an all-around good guy, he's fun to talk to, and (more to the point) he's got some good ideas about the direction SFWA ought to be heading.
He's also not Beale, which is a distinct bonus.
Both candidates have been answering questions from the voting membership in the SFWA forums, which you may read if you are an SFWA member. The thread is very long but worth your time, if only because you'd like to hear Beale condemn himself out of his own mouth as an unrepentant misogynist without your having to actually visit his blog. (Someone asked the candidates whether they think men and women are deserving of equal rights and respect. Beale's response was surprising only in its frankness.)
No, I am not unbiased here. It's why I'm urging you to vote. The idea of Theodore "Disenfranchise All The Women" Beale being the public face of SFWA is shudder-inducing. Couldn't happen? So say you. But last year's total of received ballots was reported to be very low. Please do not let your apathy contribute to the unthinkable. VOTE.
...What are you waiting for? There are 24 pages and counting of forum material for you to go read. Go, do it, inform yourself. Then make sure your vote is counted!