Soap actress Rebecca Damon, who was elected EVP of SAG-AFTRA at the union’s national board meeting on Saturday, narrowly defeated challenger David Hartley-Margolin, the union’s VP of small locals.
“It was very, very close,” said Jane Austin, the union’s secretary-treasurer. Sources say that one or two votes would have changed the outcome, noting that votes are “weighted” to ensure that votes of board members in each local are proportional to the percentage of the membership they represent.
Damon is now the union’s second-in-command and could become the next president without ever having received a single vote of the union’s membership – just as the union’s new president, Gabrielle Carteris, did Saturday.
Carteris, who had been the union’s EVP, became acting-president following the death of president Ken Howard last month. Running unopposed at Saturday’s board meeting, she was elected by acclamation to fill out the remainder of Howard’s term.
When SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012, the agreement called for the president and secretary-treasurer to be elected by a direct vote of the members. But in a nod to AFTRA and its system of electing national officers at a biennial convention, the EVP, who would be the successor to the president, would be elected by delegates to the convention.
Carteris, the former president of the Los Angeles local of AFTRA, was elected EVP of SAG-AFTRA at its inaugural convention in 2013. She was reelected at the 2015 convention.
Thus, when Howard died, she became acting-president and was elevated to president Saturday without ever having her name put to a national vote of the union’s members. And if Carteris were to step down as president before 2017, Damon could succeed her also without receiving a single vote of the members.
Damon, a Howard stalwart, is no stranger to squeaker elections. Last October, she narrowly won election as New York’s fourth VP, defeating her next-nearest rival by eight votes.