It’s no secret that the Democratic Party is in crisis. Nationally, the pro-Wall Street policies of the establishment are being challenged by the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders. In California, voters have expressed their displeasure to the growing corporatism of the Party by increasingly registering as “declined to state”. And in Alameda County, voters have shown their lack of respect for the Party by increasingly dismissing Party endorsements.
While making systemic changes to the state and party structures is challenging, a good place to start is with county Democratic central committees. Most candidates for national office start their political careers locally. Part of the job of county Central Committees is to identify promising Democrats who can go on to champion Democratic causes at the state and national level. Central Committee don’t just get to vote on local endorsements, but they are often automatic delegates to the state convention which gives them a voice on the political direction of the party, as well as on the endorsement of candidates to state and national office.
Unfortunately, many central committees are composed of professional campaign managers and treasurers, political staffers, candidates for local office and other people who have a financial stake on which local candidates get the Democratic endorsement, rather than on supporting candidates with actual progressive agendas. In Alameda County, for example, the Executive Committee often recommends for endorsement candidates who have hired one of its members as their campaign manager – and candidates who are members of the Central Committee almost always get its nod.
But the composition of central committees can be easily turned around. Members are elected during the party’s primaries and, at least in California, it’s very simple to run. All you have to do is pick up papers at your county’s registrars, get the required number of signatures from voters in your district (20 in Alameda County) and then file the papers before the deadline, some time in late March or early April. There are no filing costs for running for county central committee.
In California, county central committee districts coincide either with Assembly or Supervisor districts. The number of members from each district is based on the number registered Democrats in that district, so districts with a lot of Democratic registered voters get greater representation than those with fewer. In Alameda County, for example, there are ten committee members from AD 18 (which encompasses Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro) but only 7 from AD 20 (Castro Valley, Hayward, Union City & Sunol).
If you are a progressive Democrat – a Bernie Sanders Democrat – anywhere in the US, please consider running for County Central Committee this year. Take a look at your county’s registrar of voters website for information on deadlines and filing requirements, and then file! Let’s make the Democratic party more progressive from the inside out!
Note: if you are in Alameda County, you can pull papers to run for Central Committee Now. Just go to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters during office hours. The Registrar is located at the basement of the Courthouse in downtown Oakland. After you pull the papers, you will need to get 20 signatures from registered Democrats in your district. You need to file your papers by March 11th. There is NO COST for pulling/filing the papers.
The new term for Central Committee members starts in January, 2017.