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Key wins moderator election by 40 votes

By Michelle Bates Deakin

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Jim Key, UUA Moderator from UU World on Vimeo.

In a narrowly won contest, Jim Key of Beaufort, S.C., became the new moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association by a margin of 40 votes.

In Saturday’s election, 945 delegates, or 51.1 percent, cast their votes for Key, according to the official count provided by UUA Secretary Tom Loughrey. Tamara Payne-Alex, of San Jose, Calif., received 905 votes, or 48.9 percent of the vote.

Loughery announced the results Saturday evening. The races for other UUA volunteer positions were all uncontested, and the nominated candidates won, including UUA President Peter Morales, who will serve another four-year term.

Key spoke briefly in plenary after Loughery announced the results. “Thank you so much for your support. I’m humbled of course. I’m honored to serve.”

He also thanked Payne-Alex and her campaign team. “They made me a better candidate. Her collegiality in this whole process will make me a better moderator on your behalf,” Key said.

Speaking afterward with UU World, Key said, “I am on a high. I’m incredibly positive about our potential as a faith movement.”

Following this election, the association has a new moderator, a new financial advisor, Ed Merck, and a smaller, 13-member board. “I aspire to provide a safe space for the newly assembled board to develop a culture of boldness, agility, and taking risks,” Key said.

“I self-identify as a UU evangelist. That’s about spreading the good news of our faith,” said Key, his voice catching with emotion. “I’m very passionate about this.”

Key acknowledged that the vote was extremely close. “Democracy has a dark side,” he said. “People with a good heart and passionate views – their view doesn’t always carry the day.”

He said he planned to seek Payne-Alex’s counsel on how her “lived experience” could inform his role as moderator. Key said they both pledged to one another early in the campaign that they would connect with one another after the election, however it turned out.

Key will lead his first meeting as moderator of the new board of trustee Monday, at the board’s post-GA meeting in Louisville

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