Special Election of CEO & Bylaws

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Riko MendezMeet Our New CEO: Riko Mendez

Riko Mendez has been elected SEIU 521 Chief Elected Officer (CEO) on January 31, 2017. Listen to his speech after the election results or read his message to members.

SEIU Local 521 members also overwhelmingly ratified amendments to our Localwide Bylaws.

The American Arbitration Association (AAA) went through 81 boxes, one box per voting site, on January 31, 2017. This was the largest election turnout for SEIU Local 521, with a total of 4,311 ballots.

Official Ballot Count for CEO Candidates

Catherine Balbas: 505 – 11.71%
wRen Bradley: 613 – 14.22%
Robert Li: 982 – 22.78%
Riko Mendez: 2,184 – 50.66%
Blank & Void Ballots: 27 – 0.6%

Message from Riko Mendez:

Thank you to all members who took the time to vote and participate in SEIU Local 521’s Special Election. It is essential to have high member turnout in internal elections to help keep SEIU Local 521 a democratic union and keep members engaged. Special thanks to Vaughn Flaming, Wanda Morgan-Wallace, and Carolyn Woolfolk, who served on the Election Committee and made sure that the election and vote count were done fairly. Special thanks to all of the administrative and clerical staff who handled all of the logistics for this very complex election. The bylaws changes passed overwhelmingly, providing our union an opportunity to fill some key vacancies on our Executive Board. We will begin that process over the next few weeks.

The time to fight to defend our progress is upon us. Together we can thrive and win, even in the most difficult environment. A unified union of over 32,000 members in 17 counties is truly powerful. Together, we will move our union forward, with integrity, empathy, and care.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Watch the Video of CEO Candidates Forum

Our five CEO (Chief Elected Officer) candidates* answered questions in a forum about how they will oversee SEIU Local 521. The forum took place at SEIU Local 521 on January 18 in San Jose and via video conference in our union offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Salinas, and Visalia. We also live streamed the forum on Facebook.

Watch it now on Facebook or Youtube.

*NOTE: Heidi Pham voluntarily withdrew from SEIU Local 521 CEO Election on January 18, 2017.

See Meet & Greet photos on Facebook.

Meet your candidates and read their statements.

Read the Proposed Bylaws Amendments. (PDF)

Reminder – January 24-31: Voting Period (See Voting Calendar.)
January 30: Deadline to turn in vote-by-mail ballots – 5:00 p.m.
January 31: Ballot count & certification of vote – 5:00 p.m. in all video-conference offices (Bakersfield, Fresno, Salinas, and San Jose)
January 31: CEO seated – After vote count


OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: From January 24 to January 31, 2017, a special election will be held to elect SEIU Local 521’s Chief Elected Officer (CEO) to fill the remaining two years of the 2016-2019 term of office. Members will also be voting on amendments to the 521 Localwide Bylaws.

Luisa Blue was elected by the International Union to a full‐time position in Washington D.C in May 2016. Under our bylaws, SEIU 521 must hold a special election to fill the remainder of her term of office. We have scheduled seven days of voting, from January 24‐31, 2017, for members to select the person who they believe would best manage and lead our union for the remainder of Luisa’s term.

The following are your official Chief Elected Officer candidates, certified by the Elections Committee on December 29, 2016:

  • Catherine Balbas, Managing Regional Director of the Central Valley, SEIU 521
  • wRen Bradley, Social Work Supervisor, Santa Clara County
  • Robert Li, Director of Operations, SEIU 521
  • Riko Mendez, Political and Community Organizing Director, SEIU 521
  • Heidi Pham, Probation Community Worker, Santa Clara County*
    *NOTE: Heidi Pham voluntarily withdrew from SEIU Local 521 CEO Election on January 18, 2017.

Meet your candidates and read their statements.

Important Documents

You may download and print these documents directly, or call your Local 521 office to have them sent to you.

Important Dates

  • January 24-31: Voting Period
    January 30: Deadline to turn in vote-by-mail ballots – 5:00 p.m.
    January 31: Ballot count & certification of vote – 5:00 p.m. in all video-conference offices (Bakersfield, Fresno, Salinas, and San Jose)
    January 31: CEO seated – After vote count
  • NOMINATIONS OPEN Friday, Nov. 18 through Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, 5:00 p.m.
    Nomination Meeting: Thursday, Dec. 8, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
  • ACCEPTANCE OF NOMINATION FORM DUE on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, 5:00 p.m. Candidates MUST use the Official Acceptance of Nomination form approved by the Election Committee.
  • CANDIDATES STATEMENTS AND PHOTOS DUE on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, 5:00 p.m. Statements will be printed as received and will not be corrected for spelling, grammar or typos. (Optional)

NOMINATION PERIOD: The nomination period begins on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, and closes on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. All original nomination petitions, with original signatures only, may be sent by U.S. Mail (delivery confirmation service recommended) and postmarked by Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, or may be delivered in‐person to one of the local union offices by 5:00 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Nomination forms may NOT be scanned, e‐mailed or faxed.

A candidate must have been a member (not fee payer) in good standing (dues current) of SEIU Local 521 for the past two years. Candidates will also need 25 valid member signatures (from any 521 chapter) supporting their nomination.

All candidates must also complete an Acceptance of Nomination (SEIU Local 521 Bylaws, Article VIII, Section 2) in order to validate their candidacy. These are due by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 28, 2016.

Article VIII – Election of Localwide Officers, Executive Board Delegates and Trustees
Section 2: Acceptance of Nomination –
A candidate must submit a written acceptance of nomination according to election rules, following a nomination, in order to have his/her name placed on the ballot.

It is optional to provide a statement and photo for a candidates booklet. There is a 75-word limit for the booklet. Statements that exceed the limit will be cut off at 75 words. You also have the option to provide a 500-word statement to post on our website. The statement will be published exactly as received; it will NOT be edited for clarity, spelling or grammar. We request that you email your photo and/or statement to elections@seiu521.org as soon as possible. Statements are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

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5 Responses to “Special Election of CEO & Bylaws”

  1. Patricia Martin-Galvin says:

    What are the proposed bylaw changes

  2. SEIU Local 521 says:

    We will post the proposed bylaws on our website in December after the SEIU521 Executive Board Meeting.

  3. Muriel Frederick says:

    No relevant questions given to the candidates at the forum….a little disappointing. Just the run of the mill questions that did very little to convince members that they matter. Members would like to have asked the candidates, “have you ever caused deliberate harm to any member?”or ” have you had others cause harm to members on any level, by harassment, and bullying tactics?”

  4. Smithb592 says:

    Awesome article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

  5. Muriel Frederick says:

    As candidates for the position of CEO, what specifically, have you done to promote unity? Have you ever participated in or started a decertification as a member if SEIU? Members should hear your responses. Thank you


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