As our club President-Elect in 2006, I attended the International Convention in Copenhagen as our club’s voting delegate. There, Past Rotary President Cliff Dochterman broke it down for us why they disqualified the person who had been nominated to be Rotary International President. And also why a District Governor from Brazil was disqualified. Each had broken a golden rule: no campaigning allowed. Cliff was clear that Rotary's policies are in place to maintain the organization's core values. It was a moment that reminded us all why we do things the way we do. As delegates, we were tasked with ratifying the decision.
You see, Rotary International has this unique policy of "selecting" over "electing" our leadership. It bans campaigning for any positions within the organization. Whether you're eyeing the role of club President, District Governor, Rotary International Director, or even the RI president, campaigning isn’t allowed. You can't circulate brochures, letters, or any promotional literature. This policy ensures a level playing field and aligns with our values of ethics and integrity.
The aim here is to avoid giving any candidate an unfair edge. If you mess this up, like the two did in 2006, you are disqualified. It's that simple, and it's why those disqualifications were a big deal at the Copenhagen convention. We honor our commitments, and that means sticking to our rules and values.
In Rotary, your qualifications and service speak volumes. You don't need a campaign to showcase what you bring to the table. That's part of our culture and it speaks to the fellowship and global understanding we foster. It allows for diversity in leadership, relying on vocational expertise and service rather than campaign skills.
In this season of political squabbles and campaigns, it’s a relief to understand that in Rotary, where we’re all working together to solve social issues, merit and accomplishment determine who we select to lead.