“The county party needs a platform,” Tucson attorney Bill Reisner
told his friend, Phil Lopes. “Let’s make
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
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
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
Access to and Participation in Our Democracy
Energy and Environment
Immigration and our Borderland Community
Native American Rights and Tribal Sovereignty
Security and Safety
Taxes, Revenue and Spending
Positions on specific proposals, or “planks,” are listed for each
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.”
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
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
”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
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
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
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
“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
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.