In a blog post Friday, the Cascade Bicycle Club's board announced that it will hold new elections on March 22 and that almost all board members will step down as a group once a new board is elected.

Late last year, the board was thrown into turmoil after the board voted to fire popular Cascade director Chuck Ayers, in large part over his refusal to fire Cascade's lobbyist, David Hiller. Hiller has been criticized for making inflammatory statements to the press and for what some have characterized as a strong-arm lobbying style. Cascade functions as both a recreational riding group and an advocacy organization—a dual mission that has sometimes split the group into pro-recreation and pro-advocacy factions.

In a letter to Cascade members, seven members of the board wrote:
[O]ur goal is to continue in our current positions on the board until a new, representative, and skilled board of directors is in place, and offer our resignations at that point in time.  In the coming two months, we will work to ensure that board candidates are duly vetted through an open and legitimate nomination process, that members are offered a choice in leadership by being able to consider more candidates than positions available, and that board members are elected by the full membership of the Club on March 22, 2011.

The board has appointed a nominating committee that includes both board members and Cascade staff to suggest candidates for an expanded 15-member board, as well as committees to search for a new executive director and to review the group's bylaws, which became part of last year's controversy when Ayers supporters in the club argued that two board members, Don Volta and Joey Gray, were violating the rules by continuing to serve on the board.

Hiller referred questions to Cascade communications director M.J. Kelly, who did not immediately return a call. Attempts to contact board members today have also been unsuccessful. And Ayers has also did not immediately return a call for comment.

Club member Kelli Currie, head of the group that formed to protest Ayers' firing and recall the board, the Bike Club Rescue Squad, says she's pleased with the board's announcement.

"We think the board putting the membership first is a really good sign," Currie says. "It clears the way for the membership and the staff to move forward, and we are really supportive of that."

The Bike Rescue Squad will continue collecting signatures to force a recall on their web site, Currie says, but won't turn them in unless the group is dissatisfied with the outcome of the vote.