Just as I was graduating high school in 1973 and thinking about my summer job at the Appleton, Wis., Public Library and the starting of my classes at the University of Wisconsin?Oshkosh that fall, the American Numismatic Association was entering into a lively election race where tempers flared and good sense sometimes fled.
By all accounts, the ANA election that we are gearing up for this year might just outdo the 1973 contest. I was not a member of the ANA at the time, but I remember it because it was interesting enough to appear in the pages of this paper. I was an avid reader of Numismatic News even then.
Pitted against each other in the contest for president were incumbent vice president Virginia Culver and incumbent board member Grover Criswell. Even as a high school kid I knew that Criswell was one of those larger-than-life characters who make life more interesting and more than a little unpredictable. I got to know him in my later career.
Virginia Culver was more conventional. I never knew her. She died before I could meet her.
What made the race so exciting was the contrast of the two styles, sober and thoughtful on Culver?s side, enthusiastic and a little bit reckless on Criswell?s side.
Criswell?s unpardonable sin was to run for president out of turn. The ANA likes to see an orderly succession. It was Culver?s turn as vice president to move up to the presidency. This membership and organizational preference has held firm ever since.
Criswell lost and Culver won, but not before a clash of personalities on the ANA board led it to censure Chet Krause over a campaign ad. Krause?s electoral sin was he would not reveal who had paid for a controversial advertisement.
After the campaign, life went on, but memories were long. Wounds from 1973 festered. Rivalries never ended. That?s politics. The ANA thrived. The 1970s were a time when it adopted official grading standards and launched its third-party grading service.
Perhaps political contentiousness is the price of actually accomplishing anything. I hope so. By that measurement, the 2007 election is going to be of great benefit to the ANA.
Conflicting visions of the future are out there. It is important that ANA members fully understand them and vote accordingly. There might be some hurt feelings in the process. That is the price every candidate pays for putting himself or herself out there for membership approval.
In order to facilitate the decision-making process of our readers who are ANA members, Numismatic News will offer every candidate a Viewpoint to state his or her views about the election. These will be published as they are received from the candidates. With 16 candidates for the board, that is a lot of Viewpoints and a lot of space, especially since there are just 12 issues between now and when ballots are due to be returned to the accounting firm.
All candidates will also be given space in our May 29 issue for a 150-word platform/resume statement and for a photo. That cover date most closely matches when the ballots will be mailed to ANA members.
I ask all of the candidates to e-mail me their Viewpoints, their election issue statements and their photos at email@example.com.
Other ANA elections have had challenges and challengers. Some though are remembered longer than others because of the behavior of the candidates and their supporters. I have already received a testy e-mail or two and I expect there will be more.
The election is important. But let?s try to draw out the differences on the basis of policy issues and not on personalities. Had that been true in 1973, I wouldn?t have been as amused, but I was just 17.