In a runoff election, Richard G. Thissen was elected National President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees at the 33rd NARFE National Convention in Orlando, Fla., August 24 to 29. Thissen, of Lake Ozark, Mo., and the former national treasurer, received 61.47 percent of the vote to 38.53 percent for Ken Thomas, past president of the Florida Federation.
The runoff was necessitated when none of the three candidates vying for the position garnered a majority of the vote on the first ballot. The third candidate for National President was Elaine Hughes, of Ashville, N.C., and the former national secretary. Also elected was Jon Dowie, of St. Augustine, Fla., to serve as National Secretary-Treasurer, a combined position for the first time. Evelyn Kirby, of Chester, Md., ran unopposed as NARFE Regional Vice President, Region II.
Fifty delegates represented the Maryland Federation of NARFE Chapters. Delegates to the convention numbered over 800.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta was the Keynote speaker. Archuleta thanked NARFE for its “tireless support of our federal family” and asked members for their help in recruiting young people to government work.
“You have persevered through some pretty tough times for federal workers and retirees,” she said of the association. “All the while, you kept the pressure on to make sure the benefits were not cut. You also kept your members well informed every step of the way. So, Thank you.”
As the US President’s “chief recruiter” Archuleta said that she had visited 10 colleges and universities since becoming OPM director in November 2013, and also has met with veterans and community groups “to spread the word” about federal service.
Archuleta asked attendees to talk with their friends and families about their careers. “Talk to young people about your experience as a federal employee,” she urged. “As federal employees, you could have had more money and more perks in the private sector,” she pointed out. “But you joined the federal workforce because you had a calling to serve your fellow Americans,” she said.
She also talked to attendees on Phased Retirement, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and Retirement Services. She recommended annuitants go to OPM’s Retirement Services Online, www.serviceonline.opm.gov, for answers to routine questions and concerns and to save the call center for problems and concerns that cannot be resolved online.
Rep. John Mica, R-FL, welcomed delegates to Central Florida, and saluted NARFE for its advocacy on behalf of active and retired federal employees. He highlighted his initiation of legislation that established the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program.
US Rep. Alan Grayson, D-FL, echoed OPM Director Archuleta‘s sentiments when he told the delegates that they don’t have to apologize for having been public servants, an experience he can relate to. He started in the federal government at the age of 18 with the Veterans Administration and a union member.
Delegates passed resolutions to reduce the number of National officers from four to two and to use the Future of NARFE report as a starting point for future changes in the NARFE organization. A number of other resolutions were voted on and will be discussed in the next issue of narfe Magazine.