Write-in slate sweeps Olympic Theatre Arts vote2005-06-30
by ALAN CHOATE
Peninsula Daily News
SEQUIM -- A slate of write-in candidates handily won all 10 available seats on Olympic Theatre Arts' board of trustees Tuesday night.
The election sweep successfully completing a campaign that started in May when the previous board decided to replace the group's executive director, Cj Augustine.
It also placed a cloud over the recent hiring of a new executive director.
There were about 135 ballots cast in the election, which was open only to members of the theater group.
The write-in slate on average outpolled the competition by a 2-to-1 margin, said Beth McHugh, secretary of the theater board and one of five trustees not up for election this year.
Olympic Theatre Arts has about 260 members, though not all of them can vote.
Election was dramatic
The meeting itself was civil and jovial at times, but the election was unusually dramatic.
The annual meeting of the nonprofit group in the past has been, by all accounts, a sedate housekeeping affair attended by about 20 people.
Tuesday, however, more than 150 people swarmed the theater on North Sequim Avenue, occupying every available seat and spilling into the foyer.
Many of those in attendance were expressing their displeasure at the replacement of Augustine, who had been the theater's executive director for the last three years and the first to hold the job full-time.
Members of the previous board voted not to renew her contract in May, saying that the management needs of the theater, which has grown into an entity that owns and maintains a large building, produces plays year-round and is in the middle of an ambitious fundraising campaign, required someone new at the helm.
Plenty of members disagreed with that assessment and also took issue with what they saw as a move to water down the group's ``theater'' mission in favor of using the refurbished building more for community and educational events.
What the election results mean for the executive director position remains a question.
Olympic Theatre Arts has a new executive director, Caroline Grace James, who signed paperwork Sunday and is due to start July 6. She has been unavailable for comment this week.
Ten write-in candidates will take their places on the Olympic Theatre Arts board of trustees after the annual meeting June 28. Those elected were: Michael Aldrich; Bill Bahrt; Larry Harwood; Charlotte McElroy; Dave McInnes; Ric Munhall; Pat Nielsen; Jeff Paladino; Stephanie Stoltz; Marianne Trowbridge. Five board members whose terms are continuing are Bill Bamman, Jeri Hankins, Beth McHugh, Gil Simon and Tracy Williams. Williams was selected as the new board chairman.
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