There’s an election happening right now the California Democratic Party that you can participate in, but you probably don’t know about it. Mainly just the Democratic Party establishment and political insiders know, and they probably prefer it that way.
On Jan. 7-8, 2017, voters in each of California’s 80 assembly districts will select seven men and seven women from their communities to be delegates to the state Democratic Party for a two-year term. According to the California Democratic Party, the delegates would be “responsible for planning and attending informational meetings throughout the region and working with other delegates to represent their community. They are also elected by voters in their district to vote on behalf of the community they represent…” – as opposed to being appointed to the Party, like local politicians usually are. These delegates essentially serve as the grassroots arm of the party.
This election is a real opportunity for Democrats to make the community’s voice stronger by opening up participation in the party to people like you and me, rather than reserving it for the political establishment elite. However, many political insiders who can potentially be appointed are also vying for these grassroots seats. They don’t need to gather signatures to be on a ballot, spend money on mailers or conduct a big campaign like for a public office election.
In a Nov. 28, 2016 interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of outreach for the Democratic Party and former Democratic presidential candidate, said that the current approach in the Democratic Party has failed, and that a new approach is needed. Senator Sanders has been calling for a party with more people who have the guts to stand up to corporate America, and this election is precisely that mechanism.
This year, there is an increase of interested candidates, with grassroots individuals wanting to make a difference in the party, no doubt as a result of the Bernie Sanders movement and because the national party failed so direly. For example, in Assembly District 49 (Alhambra, San Gabriel, Arcadia, etc.) in 2015, 13 women and 12 men ran to be delegates, compared to this year’s 18 and 25, respectively. In Assembly District 41 (largely Pasadena, Altadena, etc.), in 2015, 17 women and 16 men ran, compared to the 39 women and 22 men running this year.
As a former Bernie Sanders delegate for our congressional district, I am supporting the non-establishment Dems of the grassroots who are not entrenched in the current political system and are therefore not at all tied to corporate interests. They will give the Democratic Party more balance to be more attuned with the needs of the average Democrat so that the party doesn't become even more of an echo chamber.
Voting on Jan 7-8 must occur in person, usually within a two-hour timeframe after candidate speeches. There are one or two locations to vote per District, and you can look them up here. You can also find a list of progressive candidates at that link. For a complete list of candidates, visit this California Democratic Party webpage. If you’re not a Democrat, you can register on-site.