Two campaign announcements just prior to the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in January, halfway through the Association year, have added a new dimension to the AVMA elections this July in Nashville.
AVMA vice president, Dr. Jack O. Walther, joined the race for president-elect. He will face former Executive Board chair, Dr. Jan E. Bartels, who had announced his intentions at the Candidates Introductory Breakfast last July.
Given that Dr. Walther does not intend to run for a second term as vice president, Dr. Thomas R. Kendall, who had challenged Dr. Walther last year for the position, announced he will again seek the vice presidency.
Highlights of their brief addresses to the House of Delegates follow.
Dr. Jan E. Bartels
Dr. Jan E. Bartels, Auburn, Ala.
"This year the president-elect position is contested, and I think that speaks well for the profession," Dr. Bartels said. "It renders vitality and better spirit. Unfortunately, both candidates are excellent, so it's a decision you're going to have to make."
Dr. Bartels related the leadership experience he has gained while serving on AVMA entities, saying, "It has given me vision and education into large issues and what we have to solve in the profession."
Many of those areas and issues are relevant and ongoing. Dr. Bartels co-authored the document "Veterinarians in National Emergencies" and was involved with the model veterinary practice act. He helped write the standards for accredited/approved colleges and contemporize them, and made site visits, some to foreign colleges. He was involved in discussions about developing a more efficient delivery system for paraprofessionals in the veterinary community. He has worked on animal welfare and human-animal bond issues as well.
Dr. Bartels said his tenure on and chairmanship of the Executive Board enabled him to work with a succession of House Advisory Committee chairmen and gain insight into HOD issues.
"By sitting on all sides of the worktable, as on councils and committees, being advisory to the Executive Board, being on the side of the Executive Board as they're talking about issues, taking positions, forming policies and guidelines, then ultimately moving into the chair and being a leader, a trendsetter, an organizer, a playmaker, to drive the board to decision on policy, it's now very apparent that I'm able to step aside from those experiences, come around to the end of the table, and be knowledge based enough to be a good spokesperson for the profession and the organization."
Dr. Jack O. Walther
Dr. Jack O. Walther, Lamoille, Nev.
Dr. Walther said, "We think it's a great idea to have an election where we have two people to choose from.
"As I finish up my first session of going to the schools and universities, I was in a position to decide if I wanted to continue for another term or whether, maybe, I wanted to do more for AVMA. ... I have gotten so excited about what I see going on at the AVMA today that I found that being vice president was a little limiting, because it was so difficult to go beyond certain issues. Please don't get me wrong. I absolutely love the students, and I will always continue to work with them."
First among his qualifications for this position, Dr. Walther said, is leadership—the ability to bring people together, listen to everybody, and get a maximum done with a minimum of controversy. Second is his AVMA background, including nine years in the HOD and six on the AVMA PAC, which gave him "a real good look at what goes on in Washington, D.C." Third is his experience in office and practice.
Students are very interested in the AVMA, Dr. Walther said, particularly in the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues. He wants to take a lead role in ensuring that the program continues. He also wants to tap the innumerable opportunities for new graduates in the global market, and develop programs that promote involvement in the mentorship program.
"Keeping AVMA an umbrella organization is the most important thing we do," Dr. Walther said, "that this organization makes sure that all the disciplines have an ear, have an access, and have an opportunity to be participants."
Dr. Thomas R. Kendall
Dr. Thomas R. Kendall, Sacramento, Calif.
"I learned in December that Jack would not seek a second term, so a few weeks ago I decided to jump in here early," Dr. Kendall said. "My whole reason for wanting to be AVMA vice president is to work with the students. I've worked with students for over 25 years in my career, and I really enjoy that opportunity.
"One of the things Dr. Walther has already mentioned that's really exciting that students got involved with this last year were student economic symposiums," Dr. Kendall noted, adding that more are planned, including one at the AVMA Annual Convention in Nashville.
Dr. Kendall expressed enthusiasm about one of the NCVEI core competency projects, funded at $10,000 by the Executive Board last November. He participated in the event that led to it—an October 2001 workshop at Michigan State University coordinated by Drs. Lonnie King and James W. Lloyd, where work began on a recommended curriculum for veterinary professional development and career success.
"This is a really exciting thing," Dr. Kendall said, "and I'd like to be able to take that to the schools, if I'm elected vice president, and talk with them about how they can improve the curriculums they currently have."