Equity Election Ballots Mailed; Candidates Wax

Actors' Equity Association's national elections are in full swing now, with ballots mailed out last week to the union's voting members. Deadline for returning the ballots is Fri., May 16 at 5 pm.

Eight officer positions and 17 national council seats are open this term, and candidates' statements were recently released in Equity News.

The top five positions should prove easy pickings for voters, as all incumbents are running unopposed. Patrick Quinn, Equity's national president, in his statement hit on the contentious nonunion national-tours issue without calling it by name:

"Your union is under assault by 'bottom-liners' who have no idea what you bring to a production, nor do they seem to care," Quinn tells his members. "And worse, they are hoping that their audiences won't notice that Equity members aren't employed in their productions.

"If the membership of our union does not unite on this issue," he continues, "Equity is in serious danger of becoming irrelevant."

The solution, says Quinn, is for every Equity member to get active. "We all must cut the negative attitude and leave the drama on stage," he stresses. "We must all resolve to be the solution instead of the problem. We're all in this together, and we'd better start acting that way." His call to unity didn't include any specific call to action.

Mark Zimmerman, the first-vice-presidential candidate notes, "The Road is being threatened by more and more non-Equity tours," and he predicts that this year's Broadway musicians' strike -- particularly the animosity between the musicians union and producers -- "may be a precursor of things to come when we negotiate the Production Contract in 2004." Zimmerman also wants Equity to go to school on the proposed consolidation of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, suggesting that Equity start "a dialogue between AGMA and AGVA to consider the possibility of merger."

The candidate for second vice-president is Jean-Paul Richard, and Ira Mont, a current stage-manager councilor, is running for third vice-president.

Secretary-Treasurer Conard Fowkes reminds members that they raised their own "taxes," i.e., dues, this past year to keep the union in the black, where he believes it will remain "for several years."

Arne Gundersen is running to remain the Eastern regional vice-president, and expresses concern about the touring issue.

Doug Carfrae runs unopposed for the Western regional vice-presidency.

The competition begins with the Central regional vice-presidency, where Dev Kennedy, a current chorus councilor, vies with the incumbent, Madeleine Fallon.

For the national council, 11 candidates are running for six seats in the Eastern region principal category: Wayne LeGette, Brian Cooper, Kristine Nevins, Valerie Toth Grant, David Wasson, Jeanne Lehman, Tom Helmer, Austin Colyer, Scott McGowan, David Warren, and John Deyle.

In the Eastern region, five-year-term chorus category, four Equity members vie for three seats: Tim Federle, Jeff Williams, Mark Aldrich, and Linda Cameron. In the chorus category for a two-year term, Diana Brownstone and Jennie Ford are running for the single seat.

In the Central region principal category, incumbent Thomas Joyce is running unopposed for the one open seat.

In the Western region principal category, three members -- Carol Swarbrick, S. Marc Jordan, and Robin Gammell -- are running to fill three seats.

In the Western stage-manager category, Lisa Jo Snodgrass and James T. McDermott are running for the two five-year terms, and Bill McMillin stands unopposed for the one three-year term.