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Handicapping the CIRA Election

Every year around this time, I start to get the question “Who do you think will win the board election?”. Normally I’ll defer answering, or answering candidly in quiet circles after a glass of wine or two but as a sitting director, it was just uncool and not that politically bright to publicly lay odds on the incoming directors. After all, being wrong meant that I’d be upsetting someone that I’d be working with in the coming years.

This year with my departure from the Board, I can pretty safely answer the question – and I love watching the election develop, so I thought it would be fun to layout who I think will be elected to the board this year. Not who did I vote for or who did I support, but just laying down a bet as to who I think has the best chance of winning.

The Nominating Committee slate is always tough to pick. They always have a small number of candidates and a large number of seats. Generally, if you make the Nominating Committee slate, you have a pretty good shot at winning a board seat in the election.

My gut says that we might see some surprises this year. Incumbent Kerry Brown has had a pretty visible campaign on the twitters, but it remains to be seen if he still has the connection to the base of members that got him elected in the first place. He faces some pretty stiff competition – the nomination committee picked a solid slate this year, and the inclusion of a candidate from Quebec could split the ballot up pretty broadly. I’m also hearing good things about the efforts of Bill St. Arnaud, Gary Evans and Bill Gibson to get their seat. My picks?

Kerry Brown, Eric Boehm and Bill St. Arnaud.

The member side of the ballot is a lot tougher to call. 9 candidates, 1 seat up for grabs.

These candidates from the grassroots come from a variety of backgrounds. During the campaign, a few have risen to the top – Kevin Mcarthur, Frank Michlick, Rob Villeneuve, Marita Moll and Tom Williams were all extremely active in and around the Annual General Meeting, and to varying extents, in social media leading up to the election. Rob Villeneuve carries the backing of a substantial portion of the registrar community, while Marita Moll and Kevin McArthur carry endorsements from the public interest and in Kevin’s case, the techno-activism community. Frank Michlick, who carries respectable technical credentials has good standing in the Toronto internet community and the backing of the domain portfolio investor community. Tom Williams, the incumbent, is a bit of a dark horse who carries strong credentials, but may not be able to rise up above the noise in this campaign.

Unless there is some serious vote splitting of the various stakeholder groups, I suspect the real race will be between Frank Michlick and Kevin McArthur. With Kevin’s endorsement by OpenMedia.ca, I suspect he may have the slight edge. This one is really too close to call, but if pressed, my favourite to win would be Kevin McArthur.

With the election just a few hours away from closing, it still might be anyone’s game to take. Who knows – the election always has a few surprises in it. I really do wish all of the candidates the best of luck – it is quite remarkable that our Internet community still cares enough to participate, as voters and candidates, after all of these years. Without this participation, it is almost impossible for CIRA to uphold its mandate as the steward of Canada’s top-level domain. Thanks to all of you for the part you play in this.