Tina Podlodowski elected chair of Washington State Democratic Party
At our re-org meeting in Olympia, which had a whopping 100% attendance, the first order of business was to elect our new chair. Tina Podlodowski, known to most of us for a prior stint on Seattle City Council and for running for Secretary of State this fall, a race she lost by a razor-thin margin to Kim Wyman, was the overwhelming favorite of the state committee. She won 119: 53 for former chair, Jaxon Ravens, with 2 for late-entry candidate Roger Flygare. In nomination speeches, Jaxon quoted Martin Luther King: “We may have come on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.” Tina spoke of “building a movement, carrying on the fight. Our resistance must be strong.” And that message won the day. Approximately 2/3 of the membership was new this year, many of them from the Sanders’ campaign. Jaxon Ravens was an excellent chair, and did a fine job of holding the party together through divisive times last year, but with the huge change in makeup of the membership, it was clear that change and belief in the movement were crucial in the election.
With our new chair in charge, Joe Pakootas, chief executive officer of the Spokane tribe and former candidate for U.S. Congress against Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, was elected Vice Chair. Rob Dolin retained his position as secretary; and Habib Habib is again treasurer. For our 7th CD, Javier Valdez was re-elected for our seat on the Executive Council.
In a brief first Chair’s report, Tina was clear that she expects all of us to work harder than we ever have. Within 2 weeks we will be assigned to committees, and she expects these committees to work year-round, not just 3 weekends a year as is customary. She is adding a 7th committee, communications and training, including a rapid response team and action team around activities and issues. Echoing her campaign for Secretary of State, she reminded us that we are a party of voters and voting rights. She obviously believes she can still attack her goal of expanding voter participation, despite having lost her fall election, and she has great ideas on ways to do this.
Our treasurer reported our cash on hand as we start out this cycle is $573, 565. He also advised that “one man’s civil right is everybody’s civil right. Civil nonviolent resistance is the answer.”
We next heard reports from our elected DNC representatives. David McDonald, state parliamentarian and on the national rules committee told us they all attended a western region debate in Phoenix in which 9 of the 11 candidates for chair of the DNC spoke. All our reps remain uncommitted, partly because they consider the race fluid. The voting will be on 2/25, and candidates can still file until 2/22. Of interest, DNC chair is elected by the DNC when we do not have control of the WH. When we do have control the President selects the chair. He felt 5-6 of the 11 candidates are “very good.” Ed Cote, long-time DNC member, spoke of the “grief and horror” at the Denver meeting 4 weeks post-election. A Howard Dean pollster told them “don’t let anyone tell you this was a horrible landslide. We won the popular vote by 2.8 m votes, and lost the electoral college by only 70,000 votes in 3 key states. In those crucial states, we lost the millenials and we lost the “Reagan Democrats.” Sharon Mast pointed out that Inslee is now head of the Governor’s Association. In addition to chair, the committee will fill 8 other offices on 2/25. Nancy Monacelli reiterated that we need a 50 state strategy, to reach out to the unengaged and bring them back in. The question is, who is best qualified to accomplish and fund those goals?
In the morning before the business meeting, members had a chance to visit three different committees, to help us each decide which we wish to participate on. The Eastern WA committee made it clear what works in Western Washington in terms of framing may well fall flat in Eastern Washington. The Elections Committee told us our state has >3,000 positions across the state that are open. No position is too small, whether seat is elected or appointed; we need to get Democrats in all these positions, on their way up. Rules committee is responsible for coming up with our delegate selection plan and for revising rules on how to fill legislative vacancies, as well as dealing with the primary/caucus situation. Districts have also requested an endorsement procedure guidance as well.
Finally, we passed a group of resolutions which are on the website. Most importantly, the Young Democrats brought forth a time-sensitive resolution, signed by the 50+ members required to consider a resolution that has not gone through committee that passed overwhelmingly:
Resolution in Opposition to U.S. Visa and Green Card Holders Denied Entry to the United States on the Basis of their Country of Origin.
WHEREAS, the Executive Order signed by President Trump on January 27, 2017, has banned travel from seven countries based solely on the fact of having a Muslim majority; and
WHEREAS, the practical result of this Executive Order is to ban all refugees for a period of 90 days and all Syrian refugees for a period of 120 days; and
WHEREAS, legal permanent residents and green card holders are being illegally being detained at airports and denied entrance to the United States; and
WHEREAS, persons seeking asylum and refugee status whom have gone through proper US and international procedure and law have been denied refugee status;
WHEREAS, the denial of entry to the US can mean certain death of refugees if they are forced back to their home countries;
WHEREAS, the rejection of refugees to the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, resulted in the death of hundreds of religious minorities;
WHEREAS, Governor Jay Inslee has publically stated that the State of Washington will support and welcome Syrian refugees; and
WHEREAS, the WSDCC Platform for 2016 declares opposition to “Policies that exclude or demean immigrants based on religion or country of origin”;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, call for the State Legislature to immediately pass legislation expressing support for the admittance of refugees who have obtained legal permission and face threats to their lives if forced to return to their countries of origin and not enter the United States; and
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we request that our elected representatives to enact legislation condemning the Executive Order, signed by President Donald Trump on January 27, 2017;
THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that we urge the State Legislature to enact legislation pursuant to the sovereignty granted in the United States Constitution allowing for refugees to peacefully reside within and emigrate to the State of Washington.
We were then made aware of the 10 refugees being held hostage at SeaTac and were urged by our new Chair to head for the airport on our way home to join the protestors there.
Folks, judging from this meeting and from happenings this weekend, we are in the midst of a resistance movement and cannot let up. Our new chair and officers, soon –to-be-occupied state committees, DNC members, the Progressive caucus under the new leadership of Chad Lupkes (with our own Martha Koester continuing as secretary) will do our utmost to see that we will prevail. We will have field workers in all 39 counties. We will work to get good Democrats in every position open; no position is too small for us to fill. And we will resist policies and actions that violate our Constitution and harm our fellow human beings. It’s going to be up to each and every one of us – and the friends and neighbors we will all bring to join us – to take our country back!
Lisa Plymate, State Committeewoman