By Lisa Plymate
It was truly a pleasure to drive across the Cascades in our suddenly fall-colored hillsides to reach Wenatchee, a surprisingly sophisticated central Washington town set along the Columbia and Wenatchee rivers in apple-orchard country. Much of our ‘local focus’ at the State Dems meeting was on winning this part of the state for Democrats. As Holly Cousens, candidate for Yakima City Council, put it, “Out here, if you pull away the label of R or D and focus on values, you’ll find there are a lot of Democrats out there. They don’t realize it, and they may even be afraid to admit it. You have to educate them on our issues, and get them to realize they’re really Democrats. Then you have to get them to vote the way they believe.” Fellow candidate in Yakima and Maggie Award winner for “rising star,” Dulce Gutierrez, explained the strategy that is working amazingly well in their district, and I am including details, as we could use this in Burien: 1) Make sure instructions are printed out in Spanish. 2) Pair volunteers so that at least one member speaks Spanish. 3) You will be working mostly with 20-40 year olds. This age group orders on line – Teach them where to get stamps. 4) Make sure they can understand the ballot and how to sign it. 5) Educate them on how to vote. Explain issues. 6) Do not be soft and sweet. PUSH them. Tell them “we NEED you to vote.”
This year the Party hired Gabriel Munoz to do outreach in the Yakima valley to increase the vote. Their three-pronged tactic is: friendship, engagement, and knocking on doors. Gabriel skillfully proceeded to ‘auction off’ chances for audience members to get to make phone calls. In doing so, he got volunteers at our lunch meeting to agree to make1000 phone calls for his candidates. For all these efforts, Yakima Valley Dems won LD of the year at the night’s Maggie awards. (Recommended reading Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the electorate through get-out-the-vote campaigns by Lisa Garcia Bedolla.) Their tactics in Yakima increased voter turnout by 40%; more people voted in the primaries than had voted in the general election 2 years earlier. Dulce had an impressive 80% win in her primary in August.
At the Progressive Caucus, which had endorsed Bernie Sanders for President last meeting, we endorsed Vandana Slatter for Bellevue City Council. From Seattle, Bill Bradburd requested endorsement, but did not receive it, mainly because those who support Lorena Gonzalez felt she would have received their endorsement had she asked.
The Affirmative Action plan for selection of our delegates to the National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016 was approved by the Democratic National Committee. Since our delegate selection process will be held concurrently with Hawaii and Alaska, we have been granted 10 “bonus” delegates, for a total of 119 delegates and 7 alternates. At the DNC, our state chair drew a number for us for our position in Philadelphia, and we drew #13 out of 57, which means our state delegation should have a great position on the convention floor, and we should have convenient hotel accomodations. So those who are interested in attending, this should be a great year to go for many reasons….
The Affirmative Action Committee also discussed new recommendations for including persons with disabilities. Our plan will be taken up by the Executive Committee, and all LD and County Chairs as well as caucus leaders will be urged to follow the guidelines re ADA accessibility for wheelchairs, hearing deficits and sensitivity to fragrances or smoke when selecting sites for caucuses and other meetings.
Peter Goldmark, our Commissioner of Public Lands, expressed that his agency knew in advance that they needed more assistance from the state, but the legislature did not address their needs. Public safety is one of his office’s largest concerns, and they need sufficient resources to address problems such as the wildfires that destroyed many homes and much of the forest in eastern Washington. Our host LD chair and Joe Pakotos of the Colville tribe told us of people who are now unable to get homeowners insurance, which means they lose their mortgages and in some cases even their car insurance and their ability to drive, so these fires have far-reaching implications beyond the obvious. We had a moment of silence for all those injured or suffering losses from this summer’s devastation.
In his Chair’s report, Jaxon Ravens emphasized that we all need to work for Carol Gregoryin the 30th LD. Her election is a state election; if we lose 2 seats, we lose the state House. We want all hands on deck to get out the vote for Carol in Federal Way, just down the road from the 34th! We are also pushing for Claudia Balducci, winner of ‘elected official of the year’ Maggie, in Bellevue, Zach Hudgins for King County Elections Director, and Teresa Taylor in Ferndale. Senator Patty Murray will have at least one competitor: state Republican Chair Chris Vance, who wants to “channel George W. Bush when he goes to Washington”; he supported the war in Iraq, privatizing social security and the government shutdown as an effective tactic. Governor Jay Inslee will be challenged by Bill Bryant, now Port Commissioner, former lobbyist.
We met our coordinated campaign director, Max Brown. With his help, Washington is the first state to have our coordinated campaign plan approved and filed.
The party has just put out a simplified version of our state’s delegate selection and convention process – see PDF document on the WSDCC website here.
For a list of resolutions passed, please see the state website.
In my opinion, our state is in excellent shape with its current top leadership and outstanding staff. Many thanks to those who support this by becoming WADem members!