WSDCC Meeting Notes

Report from Washington State Democratic Central Committee Meeting 4/22/17, Walla Walla

150 150 Lisa Plymate

Report from Washington State Democratic Central Committee Meeting 4/22/17, Walla Walla

Structural changes in our function under new leadership

In overview, our meetings have a new format under our new chair Tina Podlodowski, and so far it’s a real improvement. Previously our Friday nights were devoted to socializing at “hospitality suites” run by various groups or individuals (often candidates). Then our time to meet in caucuses of various groups and interests was condensed and overlapping on Saturday AM, allowing for only an hour-long committee meeting before the business meeting that afternoon. Under our new system, caucuses begin Friday night, and it would be theoretically possible to attend a series of 3 caucuses, from 5-8PM before hospitality suites. On Saturday morning, we were able to attend special training sessions and hold longer committee meetings of 1h45min each, making our work far more meaningful. Plus, our committees will be much more active than they were in the past. We formerly met for an hour three times a year. We now meet for 1:45 in person, plus hold at least monthly conference calls for work, and we have much more extensive goals than in the past. This is exciting, and it reflects a commitment on the part of our new leadership to really get the job done of electing progressive Democrats in Washington state!

Our training program starting this meeting was on “Heroes’ Narratives.” The aim is to teach us to take the long view of identifying stories that excite our base at the moment, while building our base over the long term. What is our best progressive story, and how do we tell it? Unfortunately, when it comes to using a values-based narrative, thus far the conservative voices have been defining the message; we have been battling their narrative. Story-telling over a long period of time delivers a strong message that captures and holds the audience’s attention, stimulating the desired action. A good narrative, however, helps different campaigns tell a common story and builds power over time. A given campaign may have many messages, but these should all support a long-term narrative. We discussed the importance of making messages resonate, using values-based language; we need to speak to peoples’ hearts to change their minds. People cherry-pick what facts they will believe based on the emotional parts of their brains. We want to increase participation of our base and grow our base at the same time. 

In this era of sound bites, we need to return to developing “epic stories,” as, over time, that is what will resonate with people. The story elements include:

1)a hero who makes 2) a quest which should be real, tangible and urgent. The hero faces 3) a threat which may not necessarily be true, but which resonates and mobilizes. The hero uses policies as 4) tools to accomplish goals. It’s more important to tell why a policy matters, not what it does. Along comes 5) a villain is the person we hold accountable for the threat; he has his own weapons. The story is most compelling if the hero, the heart of the story, is your audience; you are their mentor. For example, Obama spoke of “single moms” as heroes. A quest might be “change you can believe in.” A threat might be “climate change.” To Trump, Hillary was the villain; she was “weak” and “threatening.” Her weapons were “lies.” This session provided a refreshing way to approach our strategies as a party moving forward. 

Lunch speaker Hillary Franz, newly-elected Commissioner of Public Lands

She spoke of the importance of listening to others, of spending time to come up with solutions to common problems we see in rural areas. She wants to work with communities and focus on helping the economy while conserving public lands. She feels we can address climate change without speaking of “climate change” per se in a way that upsets opponents; we can find common ground and build on that. She wishes to demonstrate that we can create a strong economy while supporting clean energy, and she plans to start with demonstration projects that should do just that in 5 areas she will select.

Chair’s report

Chair Podlodowski has built a budget and has an organizaing plan. She’s hired 5 new staffers, and we have a new funding source, “the Resistance.” Based on small dollar fundraising attracting new participants, the state party’s working budget based on recurring contributions went from $2000 to $17,000 per month. We now have 1100 small donors and plan to grow this base further. We now have a full-time communications director for the first time who is about to start working.

Progress report from Dylan Cate, our new organizing director

Theme “win every race in every place.” We plan to win elections and build strategic long-term political relationships. Previously the party didn’t support candidates in areas we “couldn’t win.” We will instead support all good Democratic candidates. They might not win this election, but they’ll become known, and they’ll become stronger. We’ll have new tools in our voter file; traditional methods are not working. We won’t just canvass known Democrats; we’ll get out and listen to voters, ask their priorities. PCOs should learn what their neighbors care about.

New tool

On your cell phone, open text messaging app and write: 444999. Type the work “persist” and you’ll go to volunteering opportunities. Type “resistance,” and you’ll be able to support us financially.

Committee reports:

  • Rules committee will have rules for endorsements ready in September. Rules for primaries (vs caucuses) will come later.
  • Affirmative action committee (chaired by our own Chris Porter! and to be renamed to express “inclusion”) is dealing with harassment issues and code of conduct language plus a framework for mediation
  • Technology committee has recruited 60 members from tech industry and has in place 16 teams with functions ranging from mobile apps, webcasts,centralized calendar, PCO finders.

Democratic National Committee

Members report feeling new Chairman Tom Perez is refreshing and is truly overhauling the party. We will have a 57 state strategy going forward. They report the biggest change is that they now feel the “people at the top are interested in listening.”

Resolutions 

Please see state party website for full list and content of resolutions passed by the body.

Please contact either Chris Porter or myself if you have any specific questions or concerns. And yes, we enjoyed both the eastern Washington sunshine and the wines! 

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Plymate

State Committeewoman

State Democratic Party Meeting

150 150 Lisa Plymate

Dates: 1/27-28/17

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!

In solidarity,

Lisa Plymate, State Committeewoman

WSDCC Report on June 6, 2014

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By Lisa Plymate

We can be proud of our energized 34th LD delegation to the state convention this year. Thanks to our chair Marcee Stone, for the first time we hosted a hospitality suite Friday night, then we really let it rip for one of the major speakers that evening, one of our own, Dow Constantine. And to top it all off, because of Dow (and Shirley!) we had perhaps the youngest delegate-to-be ever, 6 week old Sabrina Constantine, showing off in their hospitality suite a floor below, definitely a major hit!  (Photo at right shows some of the 34th District Democrats at the convention, including Ted Barker and his son, Tamsen Spengler, Karen Chilcutt, Martha Koester, Carol Frillman and Jimmy Haun).

At the banquet the night before the Convention, our main speakers were Jaxon Ravens, whom everyone agrees is off to a roaring start as our state party chair; our own King County Executive Dow Constantine; U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and as keynote speaker, former Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. Governor Rendell emphasized the importance of knowing our values and sticking to them, being proud of them, even if it means losing an election. Remember why we’re Democrats and be proud of it. Say yes to hard work, and yes to investments. The key to building a robust economy is to invest in education, research and innovation, and infrastructure. Dow spoke of our core values, our belief in a more just society. We should be concerned about the undocumented guns (not workers) in our communities, increase the minimum wage to a living wage and expand our environmental protections. Jaxon
quoted JFK: “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Since we have no major statewide candidates for national election this year, our focus is on returning the state Senate to a Democratic majority. Those of us fortunate enough to live in districts in which a Democratic victory is virtually assured should work to help other districts. We need a majority to be able to get our agenda through. House Speaker Frank Chopp listed the bills passed by the House but axed by the Senate, including major bills in education, transportation, reproductive parity and many more. State Treasurer Jim McIntyre stated our two key issues for putting our budget in order are investments in education and transportation. Our Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose job is to defend and enforce state laws pointed out that he hopes the legislature provides him good laws in the first place. As an example of the problems we have, he cited the florist in eastern Washington who refused to sell wedding flowers to a man for his upcoming (gay) wedding. Ferguson sued the florist on the basis of our law against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The state Republicans in the Senate put forth a bill that would have eviscerated these protections….

The state party supports three major initiatives: (1) I-594 to extend the requirement of background checks for purchasers of guns; (2) I-1329 to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that free speech is a granted to people not corporations; and (3) I-1351, to fund schools to reduce class size. (The 34th LD has endorsed the first two, but has not yet considered the third.)

Governor Jay Inslee spoke next on how we are about ACTION to get our state going.We should be proud that >600,000 Washingtonians gained health care, putting us at #1 per capita in the nation for adding citizens to health plans. We are a state of leaders; we embrace, rather than ignoring, challenges. We are proud that we passed a Dream Act this year.  We have tried – and will continue to work on moving forward to give our kids the resources they need in terms of following our state mandate and the McCleary decision to improve our educational system.  The debate in Olympia has been over how to finance the improvements we need.  It would be wrong to take funds out of social programs, as the Republicans suggest; it is right to close loopholes in taxes on corporations.  It is a Washington principle, Inslee states, that if you work a 40 hour work- week, you ought to be able to support yourself and your family with a living wage.  We need a com- prehensive transportation plan, including finishing the 520 bridge, joining in to build a new bridge across the Columbia River.  Finally, he took up the key issue he has worked hard on nationally: im- proving our environment and combatting climate change.  Because of carbon pollution acidifying the Puget Sound and climate change, we are seeing major threats to sources of livelihood in our state, from oyster farms where oysters cannot live and grow, to increased forest fires, ski areas without snow, wineries without irrigation.  We will be energy entrepreneurs, finding ways to solve these prob- lems and creating new jobs by embracing new technologies.  We must lead in education, transporta- tion, and clean energy.

We heard riveting speeches by our three freshman (the “tres amigos”)in the U.S. Congress:  (1) Susan DelBene, in the 1st CD, who is focusing on agricultural issues, women’s economic agenda (equal pay for equivalent work, expanding access to affordable child care) and fixing our broken immigration system; (2) Denny Heck, from our new 10th CD, who emphasized the need for strong voter turnout for us to win and who serves on the Finance Committee in the House; and (3) Derek Kilmer of the 6th CD, who feels strongly that the President needs a Congress that works with him.  He believes in equal pay for equivalent work, fighting for the mid- dle class, supporting those who are suffering, improv- ing our science (we cannot be the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and be the last to do something about it), government that works (we don’t govern to win elections; we win elections to maxim- ize our ability to govern effectively).  Derek stated he is frequently asked back home in his district, why do you want to go to Congress when you have two young kids and it’s such a mess?  His answer:  Because I have two kids, and it’s such a mess!

Jaxon Ravens and Joe Pakootas

We next met several impressive candidates running to turn our Congressional delegation fully blue:  Jason Ritchie is running in the 8th CD against Dave Reichert; he is a small businessman with a well-greased cam- paign, out to “make this a better world for my kids to live in.  Tony Sandoval is running for the open seat in the 4th CD, home to Doc Hastings, who is retiring.  He is the son of farm workers, raised from age 7 in fos- ter homes, eager to protect agriculture, vote on immigration reform, promote jobs, and clean up Hanford.  Also putting his hat into that race is Estakio Beltran, an accomplished young man also raised in numerous foster homes in eastern Washington who went on to get his MA from Columbia University and who pointed out that 50% of the 4th CD is young and 37% are Latino.  This will be a great race to watch, as there are 8 Republican candidates as well.  Finally, Joe Pakootas, CEO of the Colville tribal federation, is working to unseat Cathy McMorris-Rogers in the 5th CD (Photo at right is Jaxon Ravens with Joe Pakootas)..

We also heard from U.S. Senators, Patty Murray, who has been in the Senate since 1992,  longest of any woman serving, who spoke of our clear choice in the upcoming elections.  Democrats are for jobs, opportunity, growth and families.  Seventy-seven cents on the dollar is not good enough for women.  We need universal pre-K, affordable child care.  No one who works full time should live in poverty.  We must reduce the crushing bur- den of student loan debts.  We must fight back against Citizens United, including supporting a Constitutional amendment if necessary.
Our main business beyond these speeches was to ratify our state party platform and to pass resolutions.  Both can be found at the state party website:  www.wa-democrats.org.  I think all of us serving as delegates enjoyed the camaraderie, the spectacular Spokane scenery in our perch beside the roaring river and the rousing speeches.  Now it’s time for all of you to join us in the fight to take back our state Senate and expand our Democratic U.S. Congressional delegation!

WSDCC Report from Sept. 2014

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By Lisa Plymate and Chris Porter

WSDCC Quarterly Meeting WSDCC met September 12-13, 2014 at the Silver Reef Hotel Casino in Ferndale. Call to Order by State Party Chair Jaxon Ravens at 1:36pm. Flag Salute led by Julie Johnson (Clallam County); Justin Finkbonner performs the Lummi National Anthem. Welcome by Whatcom County Chair Mike Estes. Roll Call by State Party Secretary Rob Dolin.

There are 45 County and 76 Legislative District State Committee Members present, for a total of 121 individuals. Al Garman (41st LD) receives a standing ovation. Welcome back, Al! The 4 WDSCC officers, 4 DNC members, the President of the Federation of Democratic Women, the Chair of the Chairs’ Organization, and a representative from the Young Democrats of Washington are also present. Adoption of the Agenda M/S/A. Approval of the Minutes M/S/A

Chair’s Report – Chair Jaxon Ravens Chair Ravens thanks a number of individuals for their support in his first seven months in office, including the Executive Board, the Chairs of the Committees and Caucuses, the staff, the members of the SCC, chairs, vice-chairs, and PCOs. Chair Ravens reports on his attendance at party, campaign, and other functions throughout the state. Chair Ravens reports on a variety of State Party programs and recognizes the department directors for Party Affairs, Fundraising, Compliance, Digital Media and Technology Campaign Director Rob Dible and Organizing for Washington Director Max Brown report on the 2014 campaign.

Rob Dible reports on the importance of data – elections are all about targeting the right voters. Max Brown says that this election will be all about turnout–Washington State has enough Democrats for us to win the election. State Party Executive Director Karen Deal and Vice Chair Valerie Brady Rongey announce the State Party’s new DEM (Donate Every Month) program, and encourage SCC members to become sustaining donors.

DNC Reports

  • David McDonald – the DNC Rules Committee has passed its preliminary guidelines for the 2016 Delegate Selection Process; the number of delegates have been reduced across the board, dropping Washington State’s likely delegate count from 103 to 86. DNC Rep. McDonald reports that we were successful in retaining our ability to have SCC members from LD’s elect our at-large delegates as we did in 2012. Iowa has been under pressure to adopt an absentee ballot – they will have a single statewide telephone caucus for military service members. Federal funding for national convention has been stopped; the DNC is taking over direct management of the convention and will be raising money directly.
  • Ed Cote–the DNC has retired its debt from 2012; all campaign committees are out-raising their Republican counterparts The 2016 National Convention will be in one of the following cities: Columbus, OH; Phoenix, AZ; Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY; or Birmingham, AL; the final decision will likely be made in January 2015.
  • Sharon Mast—is now Secretary of the Western States Caucus; the Western Caucus is especially concerned with Hispanic/Latin issues.
  • Lona Wilbur—was not able to attend the Atlanta meeting, because of a death in a family; she is glad that Chair Ravens attended the Native Caucus with Rion Ramirez, an At-Large DNC member who lives in Washington and is Chair of the DNC Native American Caucus.

Committee Reports

  • Affirmative Action—report from Alec Stephens (37th LD & Affirmative Action Committee Chair) for 2016.
  • Elections Committee report from Roger Erskine (Thurston County & Elections Committee Chair)
  • Technology Committee report from Rob Dolin (State Party Secretary & Technology Committee Chair)
  • Eastern Washington report from Ed Wood (4th LD) for Eastern Washington Committee Chair Valerie Brady Rongey
  • Rules report from Ann Martin (34th LD) for Rules Committee Chair Todd Nichols

WSDCC Reorganization Meeting on Jan. 24, 2015

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By Lisa Plymate

Festivities began Friday night, with a welcome reception at the state capitol rotunda featuring Governor Jay Inslee. After Saturday morning caucus and committee meetings, we attended a truly stimulating lunch session with an expert labor panel: 1) Joe Kendo, legislative and policy director of the Washington state labor council; 2) Mike Martinez, head of the state building trades council, also AFL-CIO; 3) Lily Wilson-Podega, political director for the Teamsters; and 4) Dennis Eagle, director of legislative and political action for the Washington Federation of State Employees.

Governor Inslee Speaks to the Washington DemocratsThey discussed the status of “Right to Work” in Washington state. This is of course, a notorious misnomer, as it is not about a “right,” but is instead about undermining worker security rights by destroying labor unions.

Historically, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 was designed to protect the rights of employees by encouraging collective bargaining and curtailing management practices which could harm the welfare of workers, employers and the overall economy. These rights were then curtailed with the Labor Management Relations (Taft-Hartley) Act of 1947. This act allows states to carve out portions of the NLRA. Initially, such restrictions were applied primarily in the South, but labor is being weakened by Right to Work laws in 24 states at this point, including former labor strongholds of Michigan and Ohio. RTW laws, pushed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers, allow workers to opt out of paying union dues, even though they may be benefiting from the work of the unions. The facts are that in states with RTW laws, wages are $5,000 less annually than in non-RTW states; less money is spent on education; and there is an increase in work-place deaths. Such laws not only harm workers but they also weaken the progressive movement in general.  [Photo at left, Governor Jay Inslee speaks to the WSDCC.]

Marcee Stone-Vekich and Max VekichWashington state has been a strong union state. Our wages are an average of $10,000 more per year than wages in RTW states, and we rank 4th lowest in workplace deaths. But our workers’ rights are threatened by an exponentially-expanding Olympia think tank known as the “Freedom Foundation.” Their new CEO, Tom McCabe,was former CEO of the Building Association. Their modus operandi is to “educate – activate – legislate – litigate.” They aim their propaganda directly at workers and unions. They promote members for school boards and other community offices. Much of their current focus is on public sector unions, with a new campaign to defund these unions. Their end-agenda is classic right-wing: lower wages, lower taxes, smaller government, decreased regulations. Their political aim is to elect Republicans.   According to the speakers, “the dark forces are upon us.” This is a “right to work – for less.” They implore us, as progressives, to “give a damn!” – and speak up in support of labor issues. We need non-union people speaking up for labor. In addition to pointing out that with RTW laws, wages, health benefits and pensions decrease, we should emphasize the safety aspect. Our state has the best health and safety laws in the country, and we don’t want to lose them. The panelists implored us to fight hard for local elections; recruit voters and get them to understand and to care.  [Photo above right right, 34th Democrats Chair Marce Stone-Vekich and Max Vekich]

In the afternoon business meeting, we first elected our slate of officers for 2015-16: Chair Jaxon Ravens; Vice-chair Valerie Brady Rongey; Secretary Rob Dolin; and Treasurer Habib Habib. Javier Valdez will remain our 7th CD representative to the state committee. Jaxon, our chair for the past year since Dwight Pelz resigned early from his position, gave his state of the state party evaluation.  He was proud that we passed our initiative for expanded background checks on gun sales. The party worked with 104 campaigns, made 1.9m phone calls and had >700K contacts with >400m people. Turnout rate for those contacted was 64%. We are improving our efficiencies with better technology, with an uptick in our use of social media, while continuing our grassroots footwork. We invested $1.5m in campaigns. We now have $285K in the bank. We need representation in every county. We are actively recruiting a state party communications director, and we plan to put new offices in 3 locations in eastern Washington. Our party is not only about electing candidates, but also about fighting for our values. We should be inspired by Obama’s state of the union speech: make the first 2 years of community college free; everyone deserves a fair shot; raise the minimum wage; ensure equal pay for women; improve our infrastructure. Our governor understands the damaging effects of climate change. We are the party for families and for immigrants. Here, dreamers are eligible for state grants. The SeaHawks were down 16 points at half-time, yet they had faith, and they won. We may have been down after this last election, but we will prevail.

Our state has 8 members in the DNC, including 2 selected by Obama. At this point we know the date of the next national convention, July 25, 2016, but the location remains a choice among Columbus, Philadelphia, and NYC. In our state, we have to decide whether to continue holding caucuses or to have a primary. Since changing to a Presidential primary would cost the state $11m, it is unlikely we will change to that system.

We considered only resolutions our interim resolutions committee felt would apply directly to our current legislative system; others were tabled until our next meeting in April 2015. The biggest debate was over a resolution opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty; it was finally decided that this should be held until April.

We passed resolutions supporting progressive new revenue measures for the state; the Washington Health Security Trust (for single payer health care); oil transportation safety measures; equality in record-sealing processes for previously confined youths; study of economic impact of noxious weeds; and –finally – a Seahawks win in the Super Bowl…. “Go Hawks!”

State Party’s Jan. 2015 Meeting Highlights

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By Lisa Plymate and Chris Porter

A summary of the meeting from Greg Haffner is here (PDF document).  The summary includes the titles of all the resolutions passed at the January, 2015, reorganization meeting, and a list of the party officers.  Chair Jaxon Ravens reports on a variety of State Party programs:

  1. In 2014, the State Party worked with 104 campaigns to make 1.9 million phone calls and knock on 900,000 doors totally 700,000 verbal contacts with 400,000 different voters; voters contacted by the campaign turned out at 68%, far above the statewide turnout of 54%.
  2. VoteBuilder was scrubbed of 250,000 wrong phone numbers and 16,000 bad addresses; 20% of primary phone numbers we updated in 2014.
  3. The State Party Facebook page has twice as many followers as the State GOP page; the State Party’s Twitter feed has 150% as many followers as the State GOP feed.
  4. Many programs exceeded their income targets, including the 2014 Crab Feed (30% more than budgeted), Holiday Party (10% more) and State Convention (20% more); in addition, the entire digital media program exceeded its projected income by 30%.

WSDCC Report from April 17 in Pasco

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By Lisa Plymate

Headlines  We approved our delegate selection process and for the next national convention, to be held in Philadelphia, July, 2016.  The body voted to continue the caucusprocess rather than changing to a Presidential primary.  By doing this, we will gain an additional 11 delegates to the convention.  We also approved our affirmative action plan, to be turned in to the DNC for final approval.  The DNC gave us baseline guidelines; we wish to do even better in terms of diversifying.  Our distinctions include:  1) youth selection – DNC considers this category 17 – 36 years old, corresponding with the Young Democrats, and we wish to focus on the group 17 – 24.  We propose our total youth goal of those 17 – 36 to constitute 10% of our representation, with a ‘sub-goal’ that 1/3 of these should be between 17 – 24.

2) In addition to our mandated ‘representational goals’ for assuring those groups traditionally considered under affirmative action plans (African Americans, Hispanics, Enrolled Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), in Washington we have also developed ‘inclusion goals’ for groups commonly under-represented.  These include the LGBT, people with disabilities, the very young and now, new this year, new citizens eligible to vote.

Our lunch talks always revolve around issues local to the area in which we hold our meetings. In Pasco, we heard about agricultural and rural issues.  Key issues in eastern Washington include agriculture, water needs, fighting fires, land use and immigration.  If the debate is properly framed, farmers and ranchers should be Democrats.  Yakima City Council races promise to be quite interesting this year.  Last summer, in a case filed by the ACLU on behalf of Hispanic voters, a district judge found Yakima’s system ‘suffocated’ Latino voters.  No Latinos have been elected in the last 37 years, and Yakima is >40% Latino.  He ordered the city to change from at-large to district elections.  Members are excited that Latinos may soon be elected to city council.

Our afternoon business meeting began with a moving presentation put together by Alec Stephens, chair of the Affirmative Action committee.  We started with recitation of Ella’s Song, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest….Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons.”  In minority communities, we give our children “the talk,” to explain what they should do if caught up by the police.  A shooting happens, and the police are exonerated, whether it be immediate, or after an inquest, or even after a trial.

In Pasco, Antonio Zombrano-Montes, a migrant worker who threw rocks at police, was shot 17 times by a police officer from a force that lacks diversity.  We heard from members of the TriCity Community Solutions group, who continue to be involved, discussed how the police perceive Latinos as “either gang members or illegal immigrants.”  #BlackLivesMatter.  #AllLivesMatter.

Chair Jaxon Ravens talked about the challenges of our Olympia budget.  House Dems have put forth a budget that strengthens middle class families, builds better classrooms vs the Senate Republican bill that will raise health care premiums and shortchange public employees, cut taxes on the rich, cut programs, end collective bargaining and turn back the clock on women’s health.  We have a new director of our communications team, Jamal Raad.  We need to amplify our message, taking information in press releases and turning it into letters to the editor.   New for the budget:  The state party will ask candidates to pay for use of our voter files, which will not be popular, but is necessary for the budget.

DNC report – Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy will be resurrected.  We should focus on the entire nation, not just battleground states.  Prepare for next re-districting.  Staggering losses in 2014:  69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, 11 governorships plus 910 state legislative seats and 30 state legislative chambers.

Amendment to rules for resolutions passed, to require 14 rather than 10 days of notice for a resolution to be considered.    For full list of resolutions passed, see state party website.

Next meeting:  September in Wenatchee.

WSDCC Report from Sept. 19 in Wenatchee

150 150 Nick Bohall

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!

WSDCC Report from Feb. 2014

150 150 Nick Bohall

By Lisa Plymate

Washington State Democratic Central Committee elects JAXON RAVENS new state party chair, Feb. 1, 2014

Following a spirited, mostly positive 2 month long, 4-way race, we elected Jaxon Ravens as the new head of our party, to succeed Dwight Pelz. Jaxon has served as executive director of the Washington state Democrats for the past 10 years and has chaired the National Association of Democratic Executive Directors. He won handily over his chief competitor, Dana Laurent, on the second ballot, despite Dana’s endorsement by Governor Jay Inslee a few days before the election.

Our quarterly meeting was held in Vancouver, WA, where the Clark County Democrats handed us “I’M IN – Democrats for Seattle Seahawks” pins, setting the tone for the blue & green “GO, HAWKS” weekend. State Committeeman Chris Porter and Committeewoman Lisa Plymate both attended the Affirmative Action Committee, where we learned that our plan for delegate selection process in 2014 will be at the level of the districts. As we have already started doing in the 34th, LDs are to reach out to community leaders and translate our flyers regarding caucuses into the predominant local languages. An issue that arose is that of Native Americans; our state NA caucus wants only members “enrolled” in federally-recognized tribes to count officially as Native Americans. This is a tricky situation, as it does leave out others with Native American ancestry, such as the Duwamish.

At our Saturday luncheon, we heard from a local 3 person panel on proposed Columbia River bridge, which has passed in the Oregon State House, and has federal funding to support extension of light rail from Portland to Vancouver. Our State Senate failed to pass it, unprecedented for a project 15 years in the planning. If we cannot turn this around, Oregon may go it on their own. They would hire the workers, collect the tolls and collect ticket fees on the light rail. So much for Washington’s support of our infrastructure…

In our DNC report, we learned the priorities of the national party, beginning with major efforts to protect voters’ right to vote. Our “Red to blue” project will target Texas and Arizona. (Texas has >400,000 eligible to vote who are not registered.) In selecting the location of national conventions, we will stop going to right-to-work states and use only union hotels. This means we will have a smaller venue and fewer (around 3000) delegates. The Rules Committee pointed out that the Republican Party is changing its nominating process and wants to move their convention up to May or June, although it is felt more likely that they will hold it in July. Both parties would like to rotate which states are “front out”; Iowa and New Hampshire are hardly typical of our national electorate.

One of our goals has to be running candidates across the state, particularly in red areas. Great news: We have an excellent candidate to run in the 5th CD against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers. We were happy to meet Joe Pakootas, who has served for 16 years on the Colville Confederated Tribes governing council and 4 years as their CEO. GO, JOE!

Our Technology Committee reported on a new mapping tool available for the next 6 wks at https://surveymonkey.com/s/WashDemsMaps. These maps allow us to map Obama-win margins, the voter registration opportunity comparing numbers of registered to eligible voters, census demographics and many other features in our precincts and district.

We next passed a group of twelve resolutions which are available on the state party website. Of interest, we passed a Resolution from Labor Caucus to have $15/hour minimum wage, even though our Democratic caucus is behind a bill to gradually expand minimum wage up to $12/hour over several years. Also of note, we failed to pass either of two resolutions encouraging voters to sign onto I-1329, expressing state support of a Constitutional amendment to limit recognition of corporations as people in regard to campaign financing. Nonetheless, Ann Martin and other members of WAmend did a great job of collecting signatures on this new and important campaign to try to get around Citizens United.

A further disappointment (pardon my editorializing) was that the body failed to pass a proposal to change our bylaws to include a new committee, an advocacy committee, similar to our legislative action committee, but on a state level. This was proposed by Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute and chief techy of our party. Rather than voting it down after our Chair spoke against it, we deferred it to our next meeting at the state convention in Spokane this June. Delegates to the state will have a chance to vote for the formation of this committee, which would see that our state party functions not only to elect Democrats, but also works to see policies enacted into law:

8. The Advocacy Committee shall work to turn the party’s platform into law. It shall propose a legislative agenda to the SCC each year, organize lobbying activities in support of the agenda adopted by the SCC, issue timely recommendations to the SCC on all statewide ballot measures that advance to the signature gathering stage or get placed directly on the ballot for a vote, and help the Chair communicate with the public and elected leaders through traditional and new media. Ballot measure recommendations may accompany related resolutions placed before the SCC by the Resolutions Committee for consideration, if the two committees wish.

We can take the opportunity at our precinct caucuses to let our neighbors know that if they become delegates to the state convention, they will be able to vote on adding this new state committee. And we can all get our neighbors to sign I-1329 as well!