News and Recent Activities
Our December General Membership meeting is this Saturday, December 3rd from 9 a.m. until noon.
Due to Jill Stein’s election recount, we have been bumped from our scheduled meeting location at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center. Instead, the meeting will be held at the Pittsfield Township Hall (6201 W. Michigan Avenue in Ann Arbor). Note that food and beverages other than water are not permitted inside the meeting room so please finish your coffee, etc. before entering the room.
Thanks and we’ll see you there!
At last night’s 2016 Fall County Convention, we had an astonishing turnout. Around 150 attended and we had a line out the door for 45 minutes as we got people checked in. Here are a couple of shots by Executive Committee member Anne Savage. The second one was right after Chair Chris Savage asked how many people were attending a local Democratic Party meeting for the first time and at least a quarter of the people there raised their hands.
Here is a panoramic shot taken by State House Rep. Adam Zemke:
Without further ado, here is our brand new 2016-2018 WCDP Executive Committee:
WCDP Executive Committee, 2016-2018 – Regional Members (44)
|Ann Arbor City, Ward 1||Ann Arbor City, Ward 1||Janet Cannon|
|Ann Arbor City, Ward 2||Ann Arbor City, Ward 2||Travis Radina|
|Ann Arbor City, Ward 3||Ann Arbor City, Ward 3||Robert Joseph|
|Stephen C. Brown|
|Ann Arbor City, Ward 4||Ann Arbor City, Ward 4||Abby Dart|
|Ann Arbor City, Ward 5||Ann Arbor City, Ward 5||Katie Scott|
|Hunter Van Valkenburgh|
|Central||Dexter City, Lodi Township, Saline City, Saline Township, Scio Township, Webster Township||Carolyn Hejkal|
|Northeast||Ann Arbor Township, Salem Township, Superior Township||Tom Brennan|
|Northwest||Chelsea City, Dexter Township, Lima Township, Lyndon Township, Northfield Township, Sylvan Township||Susie Catherman|
|Pittsfield Township||Pittsfield Township||Jim Russo|
|Southeast||Augusta Township, Milan City, York Township||Mike Angstadt|
|Southwest||Bridgewater Township, Freedom Township, Manchester Township, Sharon Township||Jennifer Fairfield|
|Ypsilanti City||Ypsilanti City||Amanda Mayer|
|Ypsilanti Township||Ypsilanti Township||Jeffrey Taite|
WCDP Executive Committee, 2016-2018 – At-Large Members (22)
|U.S. Congress, District 7||Gretchen Driskell (2016)|
|U.S. Congress, District 12||Debbie Dingell (2016)|
|Michigan Senate, District 18||Rebekah Warren (2014)|
|Michigan Senate, District 22||Shari Pollesch (2014)|
|Michigan Representative, District 52||Donna Lasinski (2016)|
|Michigan Representative, District 53||Yousef Rabhi (2016)|
|Michigan Representative, District 54||Ronnie D. Peterson (2016)|
|Michigan Representative, District 55||Adam Zemke (2016)|
|Clerk/Register of Deeds||Lawrence Kestenbaum (2016)|
|Water Resources Commissioner||Evan Pratt (2016)|
|Prosecuting Attorney||Brian L. Mackie (2016)|
|Sheriff||Jerry L. Clayton (2016)|
|Treasurer||Catherine McClary (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 1||Kent Martinez-Kratz (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 2||Michelle Deatrick (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 3||None (2016), None (2014), Wes Prater (2012)|
|County Commissioner, District 4||Felicia Brabec (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 5||Ruth Ann Jamnick (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 6||Ricky Jefferson (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 7||Andy LaBarre (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 8||Jason Morgan (2016)|
|County Commissioner, District 9||Conan Smith (2016)|
I’m sure that most of you are still processing the outcome of last week’s election just like we are at the WCDP. It’s certainly a time to reflect on what we as individuals and as a collective group of Democrats can do to ensure that we are successful now and into the future. Some of these conversations have already begun. Last Saturday’s Ann Arbor Democratic Party meeting had roughly 50 people there and well over half were new people who have never attended a local Democratic Party meeting of any kind. Our email list has swelled by over
75 140 people, as well.
This new infusion of motivated, passionate activists is essential for the future of the Democratic Party and we welcome you all with open hearts and open minds.
I spent most of yesterday morning responding to the many emails I have received asking how to get involved so I have put together a bit of an overview of the Democratic Party structure and where the Washtenaw County Democratic Party fits in which you can read below. This will also let you know what we have coming up and how you can get involved.
Our General Membership meetings are the first Saturday of every month and our next one is on December 3rd at 9 a.m. at the Pittsfield Township Hall (6201 W. Michigan Avenue in Ann Arbor)
Now on with the dizzying complexity of the Democratic Party!
The basic structure of the Democratic Party is that we have the national-level Democratic National Committee (DNC). The next level down are the state parties like the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP). Below that, all 83 counties except for Wayne have County Parties like the Washtenaw County Democratic Party (WCDP). Below that are the clubs like the Western Washtenaw Democrats and the Eastern Washtenaw Democrats. The Ann Arbor Democratic Party has an odd “tweener” position that gives it a bit more status than a club but not quite the same level as the County Party.
Within the WCDP we have a County Committee, an Executive Committee, and an Executive Board. We will elect the Executive Committee members for two-year terms at our County Convention on November 28th at the UAW Local 898 Hall (registration starts at 6:30 p.m. 8975 Textile Road in Ypsilanti.) Per our bylaws and the MDP bylaws, one-third of the Executive Committee is “the most recent nominees for countywide office and the county commission, and the State House, State Senate and U.S. House whose districts include all or part of the County.” The remaining two-thirds are elected from the membership at the Convention which must be held within 20 days of the General Election.
30 days following the election of the Executive Committee, they will elect the Executive Board. That consists of a Chair, a Vice-Chair, a Treasurer, and a Secretary as statutory positions. Also on the Executive Board are the Vice-Chairs or co-Vice Chairs for a variety of committees:
- Precinct Organizing
- Resolutions, Bylaws and Policy
- Legislative Programs
- Social Media
- Social Events
- Administrative Affairs
These, too, are two-year terms.
The Executive Committee’s role is largely to oversee the Executive Board’s activities, reviewing budgets, etc. Historically they haven’t played much of a role outside of replacing Executive Board members when vacancies occur. It’s the Executive Board that runs the day-to-day activities of the WCDP. We hope to expand the Executive Committee’s role in the coming year.
A final group within the WCDP is the County Committee that is chosen within 45 days of January 1st of each odd-numbered year. It consists of two WCDP members from each precinct in the county. Their role, per our bylaws, is to “foster and support the grassroots precinct organization.” They also have a role to play if we were to need to nominate a new Congressional candidate if a vacancy occurs during the middle of an election. The County Committee has never fully been activated in Washtenaw County but that’s something we could change. The “grassroots precinct organizing” we do has largely been under the purview of the Precinct Organizing Committee and I’m hoping we can do a better job of activating the County Committee as we move forward.
Around most of the Executive Board positions, we have endeavored to build teams of WCDP members who help them accomplish their goals. That’s been very effective for the Precinct Organizing Committee and needs to be done better for some of the others and that’s where folks can have the biggest impact in terms of volunteering with the WCDP. If you want to get involved, we’d love to connect with you with the team that most aligns with your interests. There is some overlap between the various groups so it’s possible to be able to work with more than one, of course.
One of the things that frustrates me most is that we have to go through all of these conventions and elections immediately following the election. So, instead of focusing 100% on how get people involved who have been activated by the election, we’re compelled to elect new leadership and it’s a process that takes place from the end of November through January. We try very hard not to let the bureaucratic requirements to get in the way of activism but the reality is that this is a distraction when we need it least. And that’s, of course, on top of closing down our campaign offices and everything that goes along with that.
Getting the teams shored up around the various committees is something we intend to work on very hard but much of that will happen after we have our new Executive Board elected since they will be calling the shots and it’s up to the Executive Committee to decide if they will keep the current leadership or choose an new or modified Executive Board.
In the meantime, continue to watch our emails for information on upcoming events and let us know what area(s) you’re most interested in and we’ll get you connected to the folks working on that area at the moment. If you haven’t signed up for our email list, you can do that HERE.
And, if you are working a project that would interest other Democrats and you want to get the word out, be sure to let us know!
A Volunteer Recognition event is happening this evening and I want to be sure everyone who volunteered during this election cycle knows about it. Several of the Coordinated Campaign Field Organizers are leaving town or going on vacation this weekend so we wanted to host the event while they are still around and we still have use of our Coordinated Campaign office on Jackson Road. The party will start at 8 p.m. and the address is, as you are probably aware, 5060 Jackson Road in Ann Arbor. Please note that if you already received notice of this, it may have said the event starts at 7 p.m. It actually starts at 8 p.m.
This note is from Solomon Rajput, one of the amazingly talented Field Organizers who helped us win big in Washtenaw County:
Good morning fellow Democrats. As we all go through our own ways of processing the devastating results of Tuesday’s election, it’s important that we take stock of what we accomplished in Washtenaw County. Thanks to the hard work and tireless efforts of so many of you, we brought in results that we can all be very, very proud of.
As of this morning, 7,527 more Democrats voted for president in 2016 than voted in the presidential election in 2012 and the Clinton-Kaine ticket got a slightly higher percentage of the vote than the 2012 Obama-Biden ticket. In fact, according to County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum, the Trump-Pence ticket received only 26.59% of the vote, the lowest percentage by a Republican ticket “in at least a century and probably ever” in Washtenaw County.
Of the 40 people endorsed by the WCDP (not including the presidential ticket), all but seven of them won their races.
In Washtenaw County, we had three offices open and they had a monstrous turnout of volunteers over GOTV weekend. My hat is off to Callie Bruley who was the leader of a fine group of paid staff like Ashley Hall, Kara Turrentine, and Noah Bunnell. They were professional, exceptional, and worked incredibly well with local organizers, volunteers, people from the many campaigns, and with the WCDP organizers, as well. I can say unequivocally that this was the best-run Coordinated Campaign since I’ve been involved with the Washtenaw County Democratic Party.
While I hesitate to call out specific individuals because I will invariably miss some of them, I do want to call special attention to some of the folks on the WCDP Executive Board. Many were involved in individual campaigns and the rest in broader efforts to get out the vote. They educated our voters, they mobilized our volunteers, and they worked arm-in-arm with the Coordinated Campaign with a level of cooperation that I have never seen in my time in the County doing organizing. I could not be more proud to be a part of this amazing group of organizers.
Our Precinct Organizing Committee, under the amazing leadership of Catherine Daligga and Bill Worzel worked with an incredible team of volunteers like Jane Forman, Leslie Sobel, and Susan Fecteau, and stepped up in a way not seen in Washtenaw County in many years. Between the distribution of tens of thousands of Voters Guides to organizing nearly 150 poll greeters armed with voter slate cards, they did incredible work, much of which isn’t seen because it’s behind the scenes. Major kudos to them and their entire team.
I also want to highlight the work Executive Board member Satish Ramade did on Election Day. On Monday we had 43 drivers and only 7 people asking for rides. However, by 7 p.m. on Election Night, Satish had single-handedly coordinated getting over 90 people to their polling location to vote, an astonishing number. He then ran the show at the Election Night Party at the Corner Brewery so that I could make my rounds to three other gatherings around the County.
Speaking of the Voters Guide, there are two people who deserve to be mentioned. Western Washtenaw Democratic Club Chair Jennifer Fairfield was the driving force behind the production of the Voters Guide and, without her leadership, the distribution of nearly 60,000 of the Guides would never have happened. Special thanks, also, to State Rep. Adam Zemke who did pretty much all of the layout and design of the Guide.
I’d also like to personally thank Cynthia Lempert, an Ann Arbor artist who did the magnificent painting of our campaign office windows and made numerous 4-foot by 8-foot Hillary signs on display in front yards like mine throughout the County.
Finally, thanks so much to all of YOU who showed up to contribute in your own special ways. In addition to knocking doors, making phone calls, and entering data, we had people who cleaned the offices, brought in food and other supplies to make sure the staff and volunteers had a pleasant environment to work in and were well-fed. It’s the support of the Washtenaw community that made this such a success for our area.
Obviously we weren’t successful across the state. In a complete shock to most of us, Donald Trump won Michigan by a narrow margin. Also, instead of flipping the House by taking back at least nine House seats, we actually lost a seat. Thankfully we kept the 57th House District seat currently held by Gretchen Driskell with a decisive victory by Donna Lasinski.
So, as we lick our wounds and determine where we go from here, it’s still important to recognize that Washtenaw County delivered and delivered BIG. Trump’s victory has energized a large number of people and we’ve already seen our email list starting to grow. I and other Board members have gotten numerous emails from people wanting to get involved. We will be doing some assessment of what we did right, what we did wrong, and how we can improve in the oh-so-important 2018 election and we invite you to join us at our December General Membership meeting on December 3rd to engage in that discussion. We’ll have more details on that in future emails.
We will also have our County Committee meeting in the next 20 days to elect the new Executive Committee which will, in turn, choose the 2017-2018 Executive Board members, probably in early January.
So, stay tuned for more ways to get involved. When I ran for Chair in 2014, I did so on what we called the “Activist Slate” and we are dedicated to being even more activist in 2017, focusing on issues that are important to Washtenaw County Democrats. Your involvement will be essential. And please invite your friends to visit our Facebook page and/or website and sign up for our mailing list so that they will be kept informed.
I know we’re all smarting today and will probably be processing the outcome of this election for quite some time. But as you work through that process, know that your efforts were not wasted efforts; you DID make a difference and everything you did is building for the future of the WCDP. In situations like this, I think it’s wise to remember that when you win in politics, you haven’t won forever. But, by the same token, when you lose, you haven’t lost forever, either.