Can you believe we are already halfway through 2022? With less than six months until the midterms, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the work you have done this year.
Through our office’s efforts, we have not only ensured that Pima County will have 425 elected Democratic Precinct Committee members for the ‘22-’24 cycle, but we are leading the charge in regards to fighting for reproductive rights by being the center of petition activity in Pima County.
Our volunteers who staff the office are our civically-minded librarians who greet visitors and answer their questions using a wide variety of resources. Keeping all of our volunteers organized can be tricky, but our new Team Leader volunteer program is making it a lot easier!
Team Leaders will help to train new volunteers, learn our office opening and closing procedures, assume a managerial role during their shifts, be the main point of contact for volunteers, and will have special access to PCDP data systems.
Because of this extra help, I have been able to work on launching our Discussion for Democracy forum series with Democratic candidates running for offices up and down the ballot. You can check our D4D page here, where we have posted all of our recordings of these forums. Our last forum will be in person this Saturday, June 11 at 1pm at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. You can go herefor more information.
In addition to candidate forums and volunteer leadership, I’ve also been working with our fundraising team to launch our First Wednesday fundraisers, and to prepare for our Fall Udall dinner on September 17th at the Desert Diamond Casino.
June is expected to be one of our busiest months here at the office because of the ballot initiative deadlines; people will be relying on our office to get their petitions notarized and to turn in their signatures. Right now we have five different ballot initiatives, all of which will need hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify for the ballot. If you haven’t already done so, please consider circulating these petitions among your friends and family. You can either stop by our office or check out our website for more information.
I’m so glad to be serving as your Director, and I’m looking forward to the excitement of such an important election year!
VP Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans (AARA) representing the Arizona AFL-CIO
As we enjoy the first Monday in September, Labor Day, let me help you reflect on what we Democrats have in common with organized labor by sharing three concepts that may best embody the links between us — and why we choose to work together.
First, Democrats and Labor Unions truly put everything into the life values that we share. Not the catchy euphemisms that our political competitors use, but genuine ideals that we transform into actions and produce quality outcomes for such as children’s health care, financial security for seniors, workplace safety, family livable wages, sustainable lifestyles — and the list goes on and on for housing, education and more. We hold the personal, independent enjoyment of work and living as the right for each person, and we put everything into making it happen.
Second, we Democrats and those of us in organized labor know hard work, doing the hard jobs by committing to a plan and pushing up our sleeves and getting it done. Whether it’s our paid employment or our volunteering, we keep our eyes on the “deliverables,” those promised outcomes we make to ensure we succeed. Those who know me also know my favorite phrase, “Don’t confuse effort with results.” Truly, most of what we mutually fight for takes enormous efforts – but we stop at checkpoints and make sure those efforts will ensure success. We Democrats (and those in Labor) express so many critical observations of ourselves, it becomes quick to assess the wrong or right path to the desired end. And, by the way, we Democrats and labor ‘brothers and sisters’ also have in common those much-needed moments of stopping and celebrating our victories.
Lastly, the spirit that we Democrats and Labor Unions share is framed in one word: tenacity. Never giving up. I love to tell the story of how the Arizona AFL-CIO Executive Director Fred Yamashita continued for almost a full decade to organize a union for the workers at Sky Harbor Airport. Each time Fred came close to negotiating a contract, the players changed, and he started over again. But he delivered on his promises of better wages and working conditions. He never gave up!
Labor Day means the celebration of the dignity of work. Democrats and Labor Unions share the beliefs that working as community partners we can become the society that we each want to live in.
Two years ago, as a relative unknown, I asked for the chance to lead PCDP in a new direction. You gave me that vote of confidence, for which I will always be grateful. I hope I have fulfilled your expectations.
Now, as my term winds down, I’m reflecting on the challenges we faced, the lessons we learned, the successes we had, and where we fell short. But first, I must thank so many people who volunteered for our party and did the hard work.
Depending on busy people to freely give their time is presumptuous, but that is PCDP’s (and virtually every county committee’s) financial reality. We can only afford a handful of paid positions, so volunteers do most of the work. I hope that eventually, high-level party leaders find the political will to channel resources to county parties so that we can maintain a stable workforce, continuity, and momentum.
I was fortunate that volunteers with high-level skills in finance, writing and editing, website development, social media, education, HQ processes, data management and more, offered their services. Many were new to PCDP, bringing fresh ideas, out-of-the-box perspectives, and tremendous passion. These folks were not figuring it out as they went along; they walked into HQ with the skills, and we empowered them to make things happen.
We learned many lessons. Among them:
– PCDP has no chairmanship transition requirement. When I became chair, I requested files and financial records. The answer? There are none. A team of financial volunteers spent a month recreating our finances from bank statements and Secretary of State filings. Cat Ripley, my executive director for more than a year, guaranteed that would not happen at the end of my term, by compiling a transition notebook for the next chair. I intend to make sure that PCDP writes an orderly transition into the bylaws.
– Volunteers transformed HQ during the past two years, thanks to a robust recruitment and training program.While PCDP is primarily a volunteer organization, it is fair to expect a degree of professionalism. We did, and that’s what we got.
– Resources – including money – should flow toward the voters. PCDP should not ask legislative districts (LDs) for donations, as was the case in the past. PCDP should support the LDs to the extent possible. I hope that future chairs follow this model. It frees LDs to do what they need to do: engage with voters.
I am proud of the successes we had during the past two years:
– Record fundraising put us on stable financial footing. We revived our Catalina Democrats Club and held a record-breaking – and really fun – Udall dinner in 2019. Our 2020 Udall dinner was a virtual event, but still a success! I spent weekends on the phone calling strangers and asking for money. To those who gave: Thank you for your trust. This allowed us to pay for hundreds of thousands of literature pieces for the LDs, donate to candidates, run a robust social media campaign, hire interns to help candidates, and more.
– Financial accountability: Treasurer Maggie Winchell kept close watch on our finances, updated forecasts monthly, and reviewed them with me so that we could adjust our spending accordingly. We always knew where we were financially. This is an important fiduciary responsibility of the Treasurer and the Chair.
– We fearlessly stood for our values. We built a platform – PCDP’s first – and passed resolutions that advance Democratic values. We were a bit opportunistic on this front, and why not? The current administration’s racist, anti-human rights policies make it easier to be bold and stand up for what is right. It’s the most effective way to build our party. We don’t vote for individuals; we vote for ideas.
– We increased the relative percentage of registered Democrats in Pima County compared to Republicans and Independents. Pima is bluer than ever!
– We elected Democrats.
But plenty of work remains. Even with changes to our Executive Committee’s makeup, which is younger and more diverse than ever, our county party – i.e. precinct committeepersons – does not adequately reflect our constituency. As long as that is the case, we won’t be as strong as we can be. We must put even more energy into convincing underrepresented constituencies, including Latinx, African American, indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ, young and rural voters, that Democrats respect their needs and value their participation at every level, from HQ volunteer to candidate. We are instituting a long-term program called Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA), to further this essential goal. IDEA will translate into more votes for Democrats.
Redistricting will be a challenge. Democrats remain a minority in Arizona, and we must strive for a fair outcome by closely watching the process. ADP and the DNC are pouring resources into the process, and PCDP has identified professionals with the skills to help us ask the right questions at the hearings.
Analyzing the vote margins in Arizona’s counties, it’s clear that red counties are getting redder and blue counties are getting bluer. The notable exception: Maricopa. The divide is generally urban/suburban vs. rural. Before COVID scuttled our plans, I was set to meet with and recruit folks in Ajo (Precinct 1). We need to finish this work and extend our network throughout Pima County. Virtual meeting platforms make this easier than ever.
The Trump administration’s attacks on our election processes have wrought untold damage. I don’t think Trump believes allegations of rampant fraud; they’re just a way for him to keep fleecing his followers. But millions of Americans do believe these allegations. I am not sure how to fix the damage. The Republican Party seems at a tipping point. It will split apart or find some way to come together. In any case, it won’t go away without a fight. We are entering even more interesting times.
Serving as PCDP chair during the most important election in human history – as Noam Chomsky reminded us at the Udall dinner – has been an honor, alternately overwhelming, frightening, exhilarating, unpredictable, surprising, exhausting, exasperating, frustrating and satisfying. But I never doubted that taking on this role was the right thing to do.
Thank you to every Democrat who contributed to our success.