Thursday, November 06, 2008

I am running for Chair of the 46th

I'm running. I made the announcement at the last Executive Board meeting.

So what does this mean? A few things. I won't be running for chair of the State Progressive Caucus, because I want to focus on the 46th LD and King County. I'll also have to close or pass on some of the other websites that I've been in charge of over the last few years, like Democracy for Washington and Progressive Democratic Caucuses of Washington. I've learned a lot, and it's time to get to work.

Barack Obama was elected on a wave of change, with the people wanting the United States to live up to our ideals. I want to bring that kind of change down to the local level in North Seattle. The purpose of the 46th District Democrats according to the bylaws is:

The purpose of the organization shall be to promote citizen participation in the Democratic Party, advance the 46th District Democrats’ platform, and support and work for the election of Democratic candidates and candidates for nonpartisan office who demonstrably espouse the principles contained in that platform.

I believe that this purpose statement is missing something. At the last Executive Board meeting, Bernadette described the impression and feedback that she has been getting from the PCO's and volunteers who were active in the 2008 election season. Most people want to stay involved, and want to participate. But they don't want to attend meetings where we argue about resolutions. There are people who do want to deal with resolutions, and there are certain resolutions that catch the attention of people who normally would not want to deal with them. What I see is the need to articulate our organizational purpose as "to promote civic participation, especially within the Democratic Party." The last year has seen people wanting to get involved, and I believe that we can provide a place and a way for them to do that without getting bored out of their minds by district business that doesn't excite them.

There are currently two types of events that the organization is focused on. General Membership meetings and Executive Board meetings. We do have other events, but there hasn't been enough attention paid to them. I want to change that. I want a 1st Vice Chair who will take on the need for events outside the box and beyond the regular meetings to keep people engaged between elections. I also believe this 1st Vice Chair should be able to take on the fund raising needs of the district, with the help and idea factory that is our active membership.

According to our bylaws, the jobs of the two 2nd Vice Chairs is assigned by the Chair. Right now we have Betty Means as the 2nd Vice Chair for Membership, and I think she has been doing a fantastic job. Having control over our membership information is critical in order to be able to encourage civic participation. The other Vice Chair position I want to talk about. Membership is appropriately one of our top priorities, in order to achieve the revenue stream necessary to maintain and grow operations. My other priority is Outreach, something that we have intended to do for the past 4 years that I've been involved in the Party, but has always been put to the side. During 2008, while Gerry was focused on his campaign, Javier took on the job of arranging programs for the district meetings. It worked rather well. When I was at the KCDCC Honors Party, I had elected officials coming up to me who had been told that I was running, asking for time in future meetings. I think the meeting programs will build themselves, and I'm open to ideas on what the membership wants to happen, who they want to hear from, and what kinds of questions they want answered by candidates running for office and elected officials who are doing our business with our tax dollars. What I want the other Second Vice Chair to work on is outreach. There are dozens of community organizations in North Seattle. I started building a list when I built the website.

There are also dozens of Advocacy organizations that help to advocate for our values and platform planks.

How strong the connection is between these groups and our district organization is a question that I want an answer to. And whereever we are starting out, I want those connections strengthened and expanded. We have a list of unions that represent people who live and work in North Seattle. What contracts are coming up for review, and how strong is the community supporting those workers? How can we make it stronger? How can we help?

I also do not want to leave the business community to the other party.

If 80% of the people living in North Seattle vote for Democrats, then I find it highly likely that 80% of the workers in North Seattle vote for Democrats, and just as likely that 80% of the business owners vote for Democrats. Why? Because they are the same people.

This is the kind of networking that I want to be a focus for our district organization. I believe that it will help us build a stronger community, and a larger and more influential political organization. And I want one of our Vice Chairs to be in charge of building this network. Let's make it obvious that we take this very seriously.

One other thing I want to mention. The district has a set of committees defined in the bylaws. I will treat these as committees, with chairs, members, goals, milestones and tasks. I will ask the committee chairs to provide regular reports on what they are doing, how they are doing, and what our members can do to help. I don't want the responsibilities of these committees to be on the shoulders of a single person, and I don't want these committees to be forgotten in the run-up to the elections in 2009 or 2010. This is the business of our district, and I want that business to get done.

As soon as the election was over, I started trying to focus my attention on the November meeting, the holiday party, the Reorganization, and holding our elected representatives, both familiar and new, accountable to our platform and the issue-based resolutions that have passed and will pass our membership over the next legislative session. For all of us, it's time to focus on building on what we did in 2008 and not letting people in North Seattle think that we are a GOTVote organization. We need to be a community organization, every year, every month, every day. That's what I want to build over the next two years, and I need your help.


Luke said...

Good luck. Wish I still lived in the district so I could vote for you.

Syl said...

Whew! Chad you are proposing a grand scheme for improving our district and I applaud your ideas, all of which are much needed. I have felt myself drifting from the organization because of the lackluster meetings with no gripping content. I feel that not enough attention is paid to issues. Here are some of my suggestions to improve the organization:

1. Have specific duties outlined for the “at large” positions. It is too nebulous to just tell a person to find a job that needs doing and do it. Some suggestions are:
a. Be in charge of printing and mailing the Demogram.
b. Editing the Demogram
c. Chair of the platform committee as a continuing activity
d. Monitoring our state, local and national representatives to make them aware of our platform
e. Researching specific sections of the platform on a continuing basis
f. Liaison with community groups
g. PCO organizer
h. Resolutions coordinator. Someone to line up experts on either side of an issue and have them at our meetings.
i. Take charge of refreshments
j. A publicity person

2. Our meetings should have an interesting “draw” each month. Programs need content on subjects and issues that appear in our platform. Guest speakers should be interesting and our business should be brief – perhaps just on a handout that people can read.

3. We should strive to keep local. As an example we could dig in and help with issues like the Waldo development, Thornton Creek and the new Northgate Park. Make our presence visible.

Other things that do not just come to me right now that someone else can supply

Sylvia Haven

Justin said...

Visionary ideas, Chad - you have my full support!


Anonymous said...

I agree with Sylvia in that everyone should have a responsibility. But that should not apply to the "At Large" positions only. The other positions that do have a responsibility to to fulfill (such as representing the 46th on other organizations) can also take on some of the responsibilities that Sylvia mentions.

As a matter of fact, I do believe that each member does have some responsibilities. I do remember a meeting of the board where each member signed up for one or more responsibility. Unfortunately, there was not too much follow up.

Perhaps, with many new members to encourage to join those particular commities, they will flourish as they should.

Bottom line - encourage those new activists to be involved. Don't let all the responsibility lie with the Board.

Barbara Whitt
(sorry, can't remember my google account name and it's too late at night to try to figure it out)