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!