Why Does the Grand Junction Chamber Endorse Candidates?
The Chamber first began endorsing candidates for public office in 2008 and it has been somewhat controversial with some GJ Chamber members since that time. It is not unusual for Chambers to endorse candidates with a recent Western Association of Chamber Executives Association poll indicating about 30% of their member chambers do endorse. That said, board members and staff are often asked, “Why?”
The major reasons the Chamber endorses candidates are:
- It is important as we attempt to be the voice for business that those elected to office have some understanding of business principals and support those principles as they make policy decisions.
- In an age of increasing polarization at all levels of government it is important to support incumbents who have a demonstrated record of standing up for the business community.
- Unions and environmental groups also endorse candidates and attempt to get individuals sympathetic to their point of view elected to office in order to drive their agendas. Who will do the same for small business if not us?
The key to endorsement from the Chamber standpoint is to have a fair and impartial process. Our organization is charged with standing up for business and the lens we use in this process is how a candidate will understand and advocate for a strong business climate. Their party affiliation is never a consideration in the process.
Indeed, here are the principles we use:
- The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce (GJACC) will make decisions based on sound judgments and endorsement criteria.
- The GJACC is non-partisan and will support candidates who meet our Chamber’s objectives.
- Candidates that are ultimately endorsed must understand and support the concerns and interests of our Chamber’s members.
- The GJACC should take the steps necessary to hold our elected officials accountable for the decisions they make—or don’t make.
We do several things to safeguard the process and show transparency through the Endorsement Policy Guidelines we use which include:
- Unitizing a separate endorsement committee of members other than the board to interview candidates and make recommendations.
- Chamber board members are encouraged to attend candidate forums and seek additional information about the candidates outside the Endorsement Committee recommendations.
- The Board will only endorse when there is a “clear and profound” difference between the candidates in terms of their willingness and ability to support the business community AND an endorsement by the Chamber may make a difference in the election outcome.
- A supermajority of the board members present (2/3) at the Chamber meeting is required to endorse.
- The Chamber, in order to lead effectively, often examines all of its policies for relevancy, transparency and necessity. The endorsement process itself is subject to such examination every election cycle.
Election Season and a Strong Business Climate – They are CONNECTED!