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PCDP Adopts First Platform

PCDP Adopts First Platform

By Richard Wiebe

“The county party needs a platform,” Tucson attorney Bill Reisner told his friend, Phil Lopes.  “Let’s make it happen.”

The challenge was a perfect fit for Phil, a, longtime party activist and four-term state representative.  From joining the first Peace Corps class in 1961 to joining Pima Community College’s first faculty in 1969, Phil knows how to create something from nothing.

PCDP Chair Alison Jones said, “I first heard of the plans to propose building a platform at the LD3 monthly meeting in November 2018. Bill said we need to stand for more than just electing Democrats. It was time to articulate our values to energize Democrats, and let voters know where we stand.”

A few weeks later, Bill made a motion at the PCDP Reorganization Meeting that PCDP form a platform committee to do just that. The County Committee passed the motion, and Alison appointed Phil and Paul Taylor as co-chairs. 

By March, the two had recruited 15 volunteers who met at least bimonthly for eight months.  Experts in the community contributed valuable information on issues like education and housing. Focus groups provided additional insights from typical voters.

“We started with a blank slate,” Phil said. The platform committee represents the diverse constituencies that make up PCDP. It was a lot of work, but the committee produced a platform PCDP will be proud of.”

PCs unanimously approved the platform on December 7 at the County Committee Meeting.  It covers 16 subject areas:

  • Access to and Participation in Our Democracy
  • Anti-Racism
  • Criminal Justice
  • Economic Justice
  • Education
  • Energy and Environment
  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration and our Borderland Community
  • Native American Rights and Tribal Sovereignty
  • Peace
  • Public Health
  • Security and Safety
  • Taxes, Revenue and Spending
  • Technology

Positions on specific proposals, or “planks,” are listed for each subject.

To improve access to democracy, for example, PCDP supports strengthening Arizona’s Clean Elections system, the Outlaw Dark and Dirty Money ballot initiative, and reversing the Citizens United decision.

PCDP also supports increasing teachers’ salaries, expanding the low-income housing credit, overhauling immigration and customs enforcement, and removing English-only standards.

“I hope PCs will see the platform as a way of identifying ourselves,” Phil said. “The platform is intended to be a living document that will evolve as circumstances and viewpoints evolve.”

The platform can be found HERE.

Mission Accomplished at PCDP’s County Meeting

Mission Accomplished at PCDP’s County Meeting

By Richard Wiebe

A full agenda greeted the 224 elected PCs who attended the County Committee Meeting on December 7 in a comfortable lecture hall on the University of Arizona campus.

After a moment of silence to remember those killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor 78 years before, Carlos Martinez, president of UA’s Young Democrats, welcomed PCs and observers, and encouraged PCDP to reach out to younger members. 

PCDP Chair Alison Jones introduced the elected officials and PCDP officers in the room, and recognized the many volunteers committed to turning Arizona blue. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Cat Ripley, PCDP’s Executive Director, for her tireless work and incredible contributions to PCDP.

“Cat is the most capable person I know,” she said, to resounding applause.  

Alison also thanked HQ Operations Manager Bill Laray, volunteer coordinators Leftie Vaughn and Barbro Huth, and all others who, she said, have helped turn HQ into a lively and welcoming hub for the party and our Democratic candidates. Thirty volunteers now staff HQ, up from a small handful one year ago.

 ”Something magical is happening at HQ,” Alison said.

By any measure, 2019 was a banner year for PCDP. Tucson elected Regina Romero as its first Latina mayor with the highest voter turnout since 2003 (39%–which gives us a LOT of room for improvement). PCDP hosted the primary mayoral candidate debate, managed finances, and contacted voters through phone banks and canvassing. PCDP also hosted the primary and general-election night parties, and the Inaugural Luncheon – Adelante Tucson! – which attracted many from the business community.

Catalina Democrats, PCDP’s most generous individual contributors, helped PCDP exceed its fundraising goals in 2019. There were only six Catalina Dems one year ago; now there are 60, Alison announced. The Udall Dinner raised a record amount in 2019. The ongoing Platform Film Series explores important social issues, brings previously unengaged community members to PCDP, and brings in revenue. It’s not unusual to have 80 new faces in HQ at these events. Alison thanked Cat and others on the fundraising team for their success.

Treasurer Maggie Winchell reported on the financial condition of PCDP. Successful fundraising in 2019 has put PCDP in a strong cash  position going into 2020.  PCDP is compliant with reporting requirements. A 2020 budget will be presented to the Executive Committee in February, as the bylaws require.    

Training and education programs strengthen and grow PCDP. PCDP held workshops this year to train PCs, convention delegates, treasurers, and the voting public.  “Civics 2.0: What They Didn’t Teach You in Middle School,” is a monthly speakers series that covers issues, legislative news, and the workings of government.

PCDP’s social media reach continues to see “huge’’ gains in Facebook and Instagram visits, and a 90-percent growth in Twitter followers, Alison said. “While we don’t have the number of followers of the state or Maricopa County parties, visitors engage with PCDP sites at a much higher rate,’’ she added.

Recruiting new PCs and turning out Democratic votes are high priorities. ADP is working on the details of a coordinated campaign for 2020, but it really doesn’t change what our PCs need to do. The mission of PCs is to get out of our echo chambers and engage with those who have not felt a part of the process. “Talk to everyone you know,” she said. “Have uncomfortable conversations. Tell people why they must vote Democrat. You know what you have to do.”

Labor is fertile ground for PC recruitment. “I’ll go to any meeting Labor will let me in,” Alison said. 

PCDP faces an ongoing challenge to more closely resemble Pima County’s diversity.

“By far, the biggest shortfall is Latinx representation,” Alison said. “The Latinx community apparently does not see value in engaging with our party. That’s on us. It is our responsibility to fix this.”

After two officers elected in 2018 resigned, Alison appointed an acting treasurer and recording secretary. During the meeting, the body elected by acclimation Maggie Winchell and Zoey Fife, who served well in their acting capacities.  

After Michael Dues, a platform committee member from LD9, explained the committee’s year-long process, the full body voted to adopt the proposed platform. Representing a cross-section of PCDP constituencies, the platform committee met at least twice monthly for a year. They consulted local experts and held focus groups of Pima County PCs and others who provided feedback. The committee will recommend updates to the platform as circumstances evolve.

“The platform describes the world in which we want to live. It is aspirational.” Michael said.

The platform can be found HERE

Bylaws updates can be found HERE

They will remain linked in the main menu on our website under “About” so you can find them later.

Community Action Committee | Sept 2019

Community Action Committee | Sept 2019

By Dana Kormash, Chair

LD2 – Janet Connell has been the lead at the VA Fisher House the last couple of months.

LD3 – Celeste Rodriguez and Dana Kormash are planning to team up with the PTA at Tolson Elementary to supply clothes and other items for low-income students. 

LD9 – Nathan Davis is starting a monthly river clean up the third Saturday of every month. Stay tuned for details.

LD10 – Judy Falconer continues her “everything bank” for the needy at Dietz Elementary School. She needs:

  • composition books (non-spiral), college ruled or wide
  • Ticonderoga pencils
  • standard white boards, 8.5-by-11 inches or larger
  • boys/girls T-shirts
  • pull-up pants and shorts (child size 8-12)
  • computer mice

Cat Ripley has designated a supply drop-off spot at HQ, atop the shelving on the left side of the main room as you enter from the lobby. The plan is to start with Dietz, then add Tolson and other schools around Southern Arizona.

LD11 – We have eight new CAC volunteers!

Photos from Sunday Aug 4th Paint Party for Casas Alitas.  Nathan Davis and Diego Pina Lopez of Casa Alitas organized the work day at the new facility for Asylum Seekers.  Hugo Torres, a professional painter, donated his time and told us all what to do.  Thanks to all!

Community Action Committee | May, 2019

Community Action Committee | May, 2019

by Dana Kormash, PCDP Community Action Lead

Greetings, Pima Dems!  Thanks for your interest in volunteering to help the migrants at the Benedictine Monastery.  They are getting full up again.  YOUR HELP IS GREATLY NEEDED & GREATLY APPRECIATED.

The way to get started is to (a) get on the listserv and (b) go to a training session. 

(a)    Casa Alitas Program’s listserv (daily emails about what donations are acutely needed that day):  To be put on the listserv, email 

(b)    The regularly scheduled trainings/orientations are every Tuesday night at 8p, and Thursday morning at 9a.  RSVP for the training here: 

You do not need the training/orientation to simply bring donations of food or other items, but the training/orientation is very helpful in understanding the larger picture of what is going on at the Monastery and the other locations.

There are several local churches that are also serving this function.  St Mark’s Presbyterian Church (midtown) and Trinity Presbyterian Church (University area), and St Francis in the Foothills are several of these.

We want the Pima Dems to be visible as we do this important work.  If you decide to go ahead with volunteering, whether at the monastery or at another location, please let Dana Kormash know; she will arrange to get a Pima Dems Community Action t-shirt to you. The t-shirts are $10. Alternatively, you can wear any other shirt that identifies you as a Pima County Democrat.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact either Dana Kormash, PCDP Community Action Lead, or Greer Warren, LD10.

Thank you!

Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee Update | April 2019

Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee Update | April 2019

By Michele Manos, Chair, PCDP Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee

Dr. Michele Manos chair of Pima County Democratic Party's Diversity and Affirmative Action (DAA) Committee.

I am honored and enthused to be chairing PCDP’s new Diversity and Affirmative Action (DAA) Committee. This will be a formidable task, but we certainly have the will, skill and dedication to create a Pima County Democratic Committee that more closely reflects our county’s population. If successful, the DAA Committee’s efforts should also help build a more representative electorate and party leadership.

The DAA Committee (still under construction) will be a matrix of members representing geography (LD) and constituent groups. Our most underrepresented constituent groups include: youngers; Latinos; Native Americans; African-Americans; Asian/Pacific Islanders; people living with disabilities; rural communities, and men. (Men? Well, the DNC requires that men and women be represented equally at all levels of the party.) Here are the demographic details currently available for our County Committee membership:

Group% of PCsTarget %
Under 60 years26%73%
Latinx 7%37%
Native American 1% 4.5%
Black 3% 4%

While we haven’t begun to map out goals and strategies, some possible actions are clear. Our activities may include outreach at community events (strategic tabling), engagement with like-minded organizations, and student internship programs. We’ll definitely need funding to make progress. I expect to seek local donations, as well as grants from the state and national level. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions and your willingness to get involved.

DNC Report | Feb, 2019

DNC Report | Feb, 2019

By Sierra Yamanaka, Arizona DNC Representative and Pat Burns, Arizona Democratic Party First Vice Chair

Sierra and Pat

At the January meeting of the Arizona State Committee Representatives, Sierra Yamanaka was elected as the DNC Representative from the Arizona Democratic Party. At that same meeting, Pat Burns, was elected as First Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party. The two of them attended their first DNC meeting on Feb. 12-14 in Washington D.C. Below are their reports:

Report from Sierra Yamanaka

Sierra is Arizona’s Democratic National Committee (DNC) representative, a native Tucsonan and former Deputy Field Director for the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP). Sierra is a PC in LD9 Precinct 100.

The role of National Committeewoman is simple: to represent Arizona’s interests and needs at the DNC’s semi-annual meetings, while learning from other states and national leaders. I will also serve as a delegate to the July 2020 Democratic National Convention.

But I want to expand my role to include an education-and-training piece for PCs across Arizona. I believe there is a disconnect between what the DNC is doing, what the ADP is doing, and what PCs hear. I hope to bridge that gap by explaining what the DNC does, and how it is helping and prioritizing Arizona.

Sierra Yamanaka with Bel Leong-Hong, Chair of the DNC Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus

I had the privilege of attending the DNC’s Winter Meeting Feb. 14-16 in Washington, D.C. Members from all 57 states and territories, as well as several at-large members, comprise the DNC. The members gather for council and caucus meetings before and after the general sessions. I attended the Youth Council, the Women’s Caucus, and the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Caucus, as well as the Budget and Finance and the Executive committees. Arizona was a topic in nearly every meeting I attended, either what we accomplished in the 2018 midterms or that we’re a priority moving forward!

We heard from incredible speakers, including Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and The Rev. Al Sharpton, amazing U.S. House members like Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, Rep. Andy Kim, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Judy Chu, and Rep. Barbara Lee.

The DNC invested $30 million to support elections and campaigns in 2018. That money purchased 112 million cell-phone numbers, paid for organizers, enabled training, and upgraded data and technology infrastructure.

The 2019-2020 road map includes five major priorities:

  1. Ending the “accordion effect’’ by raising more money in the off-year, because we can’t afford to wait until 2020!
  2. Expanding data and tech reach. The DNC has signed on to the Democratic Data Exchange, which will allow data sharing between DNC and partner organizations so that campaigns have the very best targeting.
  3. Defining and localizing Donald Trump through messaging, communications and digital to demonstrate through personal stories how his policies hurt Americans.
  4. Building state party infrastructure so that the Democratic presidential nominee has the resources he or she will need to win, and investing in every other Democratic race across the country. State parties are the backbone of successful races from School Board to Senate.
  5. Having a fair, inclusive and transparent nominating process by scheduling 12 primary debates and limiting the power of superdelegates.

Thank you all for your support! I’m happy to answer your questions, so please reach out:

Report from Pat Burns

Pat delivering Western Region Caucus update at the February DNC meeting in Washington, D.C.

PAT BURNS is the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP)’s first vice chair. He serves on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and belongs to the Association of State Democratic Committees (ASDC). He attended his first DNC meeting Feb. 14-16 in Washington, D.C.

Discovering that the DNC has become a much more transparent body since the 2016 election, and that it has once again adopted a 50-state strategy, was a highlight of the meeting for me.  If the DNC invests everywhere, we have an opportunity to win anywhere.

I was pleased to hear Arizona mentioned in almost every meeting I attended. People have noticed not only our recent wins, but our potential for more. Whether it’s being a part of the road map to beat Donald Trump, winning another U.S. Senate seat or taking back our state legislature, the rest of the DNC knows what we know: Arizona is a battleground state in a region with many exiting things happening electorally.

Delivering the Arizona update to the DNC Western Region Caucus gave me a great opportunity to brag about the work we did that led to our success in the midterms, and about our future prospects.

At the Native American Caucus, we heard from newly-elected Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, one of the first female Native American members of Congress, now chairing the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. She talked about working with DNC Chair Tom Perez  to make the DNC more inclusive while she chaired the New Mexico Democratic Party.

Perez spoke passionately at the closing general session about our country’s real emergencies, not Trump’s manufactured one. He said that Democrats will win back the White House by shining light on our country’s real threats, and our party’s ideas for handling them.

I look forward to emphasizing Arizona’s role in the 2020 election cycle at the summer ASDC meeting. Don’t hesitate to reach out with your comments and suggestions:

Platform Committee Update | Feb. 2019

Platform Committee Update | Feb. 2019

By Co-chair Phil Lopes – Former State Representative and LD3 PC, Precinct 16

The PCDP Platform Committee held its first meeting on Feb. 16, at which Paul Taylor was named co-chair.

We agreed to: have the platform ready for presentation to the County Committee by early fall; get feedback from LDs, clubs, caucuses and other interested groups as the platform develops; make the document concise, readable and usable.

We discussed but haven’t yet decided the platform’s purpose and goals, the issues it should cover, and its format and presentation. The committee will meet every couple of weeks.

In addition to myself and Paul, the committee’s members are Chester Antone, Marion Chubon, Michael Dues, Alison Hughes, Claire Knipe, Miriam Lindmeier, Bill Maki, Joy Noriega, Miki Odawa, Tom Prezelski, Betts Putnam-Hidalgo, and Mike Wilson.