By Bonnie Heidler
Heading into my first full month as PCDP‘s Chair, I knew I’d be inundated with party business, taking a break on January 20 to celebrate the inaugurations of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. But on January 6, two days after the first Executive Committee meeting of 2021, the unthinkable happened: an armed assault on the United States Capitol, where our elected representatives were meeting to certify the election results. Suddenly, I found myself on television, after KGUN and Univision requested statements about the insurrection. I was honored to speak for PCDP about this traumatic event.
But then came the day for which we all worked so hard the past four excruciating years – and for which American women and girls have waited a lifetime. Kamala Harris, the first woman and the first African American/South Asian American, ascended to the nation’s second highest office. With tears of joy in my eyes, I watched Joe Biden take the oath of office, and in a speech both reassuring and inspiring, promised a return to decency and compassion in public life. Once again, I was proud to represent PCDP on KVOA, which had asked for a statement about the inauguration.
We held an officers and LD chairs retreat to start developing our strategic plan for the next two years. We completed the Mission and Vision Statements. I am working towards having the strategic plan ready to present at our next Executive Committee meeting in March.
PCDP has begun sending weekly emails about timely topics to start our fundraising for this year. We sent two this past month: one after the insurrection and one after the inauguration, which included a solicitation for commemorative bricks for Placita De Paz, the front patio at headquarters.
I attended the monthly LD chairs call, as well as attending all the virtual LD committee meetings in January.
I spoke at Democrats of Greater Tucson about the vision for PCDP over the next two years. And, I spoke at the Sabino Vista Democrats meeting about how they can get involved with party activities.
The most important item in January was getting our 2021 budget completed by the February Executive Committee meeting. Per our By-Laws, Caroline Garcia, PCDP Treasurer, worked tirelessly on getting our budget completed. She took the Executive Committee through the process and how she developed the budget. The budget was presented and passed. Speaking of the EC meeting, Morgan Graham, our Recording Secretary, delivered her first set of minutes at the meeting, which were accepted. Morgan will be getting involved in other committee work and reporting on it at the EC meetings.
Fundraising for PCDP never stops. First Vice Chair Nathan Davis is working on an event to help grow Cat Dems. Executive Director Joshua Polacheck has been helping Nathan by calling current Cat Dems. Nathan, Joshua and I are working on a fundraising plan for 2021. We need to be laying the groundwork for 2022, which is going to be another big election year, especially for Arizona. We need to finish turning AZ blue by flipping the state legislature and the governorship.
Party building has begun. Corresponding Secretary Priya Sundareshan is busy processing Precinct Committeepersons (PC) applications from the LDs. Again, this is to start building our ground game for 2022. We plan to educate every PC and volunteer so they know what to do and how to build relationships to educate the voters in their precincts.
Headquarters remains closed until COVID-19 numbers fall to a level at which re-opening is safe. However, if you need to come to headquarters, please call and arrange for an appointment. Someone is there Tuesday-Friday mornings, but only by appointment.
Finally, 2020 is ending, and like most of you, I can’t wait to turn the page on this awful year. COVID-19 has brought tragedy into millions of American homes. Loved ones have sickened and died, too often alone in a hospital or nursing home. Unemployment and evictions are ruining countless lives. Small-business owners have seen their hard work turn to dust. Our children miss their schoolmates. And we all faced the agonizing choice between spending holidays apart from family or risking illness to be together.
But there were bright spots, not the least of which was the huge Biden-Harris win on Nov. 3. Every Democrat who worked toward that victory by volunteering can claim credit for it. Pima Dems should be especially proud, because without our votes, Arizona would have stayed solidly red. PCDP helped elect Mark Kelly to the Senate, reelect Ann Kirkpatrick to the House, Democrats to nearly every countywide office, and a fourth Democratic Pima County supervisor.
As your new chair, I’m determined to see Arizona turn from purple to blue. We have a big task in front of us for 2022: reelecting Kelly, taking back the governorship, flipping the state legislature, and preparing for 2024.
But first comes redistricting, which is our biggest challenge for 2021 because it impacts political control of Arizona for the next decade. We’ve seen what Republican control in Phoenix looks like. It’s ugly, and has hurt so many Arizonans in so many ways. Democrats are committed to government that works for the people, not for special interests.
You honored me with your votes, and I pledge to work as hard as I can to keep the Blue Wave moving forward. A huge thank-you to Chair Alison Jones for leaving me a turn-key operation at headquarters, and for assembling a diverse team of talented volunteers who’ll make the transition seamless.
Alison transformed PCDP, raising record amounts of money and leaving PCDP on sound financial footing. She oversaw PCDP’s first-ever platform, which represents what we stand for. She pushed for Spanish translations on our website.
Alison put out the welcome mat for Democrats and left-leaning independents who’d never been involved with the party, and coaxed back many who’d drifted away. PCDP is more inclusive than ever, by every metric.
I’m eager to start work with our new officers: First Vice Chair Nathan Davis, Second Vice Chair Kalyanraman Bharathan, Treasurer Caroline Garcia, Recording Secretary Morgan Graham, and Corresponding Secretary Priya Sundareshan. They bring a wealth of skills, energy and fresh perspectives to PCDP.
Just a bit about me: I became politically active after the 2016 election by joining Indivisible, became a PC, and was elected LD10 chair in 2018. I also headed the committee of LD chairs. In the past two years, LD10 built a $10,000 campaign war chest, increased the LD10 volunteer base to 800, and flipped our LD’s Arizona House seat for the Democrats.
I’m from Los Angeles, and have lived in Arizona since 2006. I hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in public administration. I retired from Hewlett-Packard as a project manager in 2014, and for eight years owned a beading store in Colorado Springs.
I’ve been married to Michael Heidler for 43 years. We live with our golden retriever, Sugar, near the Tanque Verde Loop. I’m a proud step-mom and step-grandmother.
Here’s wishing everyone a HEALTHY and fulfilling 2021. May we see an end to the pandemic and a rebirth of optimism in our country.
– Bonnie Heidler
Bonnie Heidler, a tech-industry veteran and Pima County Democratic Party Legislative District 10 chair, is the county party’s new chair, succeeding Alison Jones, a Tucson hydrogeologist, who declined to seek reelection.
In a Zoom election during PCDP’s December 19 reorganization meeting, more than 400 precinct committeepeople (PCs) chose Heidler by a wide margin.
“I am honored to have been elected chair of the Pima County Democratic Party,’’ said Heidler, 67. “I want to thank outgoing Chair Alison Jones. Alison transformed PCDP during her two-year term, making PCDP financially solvent and left a legacy of inclusion for years to come. We have a big task in front of us for 2022: reelecting Senator Mark Kelly, taking back the governor’s mansion, flipping the state legislature, and preparing for 2024.’’
“Redistricting will be our biggest challenge for 2021,’’ Heidler said. “It impacts political control of Arizona for the next decade. A decade of Republican control in Phoenix has hurt so many Arizonans in so many ways. We’re committed to government that works for the people, not for special interests.’’
During Jones’s tenure, PCDP raised record amounts of money, enabling Democrats to take five of six countywide offices and four of five supervisor seats – and play a crucial role in clinching Arizona for the Biden-Harris ticket.
Jones endorsed both Heidler and her slate of officers, all of whom won: teacher and union member Nathan Davis, First Vice Chair; retired scientist Kalyanraman Bharathan, Second Vice Chair; retired University of Arizona administrator Caroline Garcia, Treasurer; accounting-firm executive assistant Morgan Graham, Recording Secretary, and environmental lawyer Priya Sundareshan, Corresponding Secretary.
LD10, with 49 precincts, covers Midtown and East Tucson, north of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Heidler ran on LD10’s accomplishments during her tenure as chair, which included flipping a Republican Arizona House seat for the Democrats, raising a $10,000 election war chest, and increasing the LD’s volunteer base to 800, which enabled extensive voter outreach. She also headed the committee of PCDP LD chairs.
Heidler became politically active after the 2016 election, joining Indivisible, a national grassroots movement to resist the Trump agenda. She then became a PCDP PC, and was elected LD10 chair in 2018.
A Los Angeles native, Heidler holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a master’s in public administration from Pepperdine University. She retired from Hewlett-Packard as a project manager in 2014, and for eight years owned a beading store in Colorado Springs.
She and Michael Heidler, her husband of 43 years, moved from Colorado to Arizona in 2006. She has a stepson and a step-grandson. The Heidlers and their golden retriever live in east Pima County, near the Tanque Verde Loop.