Shaking Up the Party

I have just proposed a radical change to the San Francisco Democratic Party.

It used to be that running for the SF Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) was a great way to learn how to run for office. You’d raise ten thousand dollars, get a few endorsements, get your friends to register Democrat and vote for you, and you could win.

Burton

California Democratic Party Chair John Burton and I file our paperwork together.

In the last decade, however, we’ve seen a dismaying trend: with every election, an increasing number of elected officials in San Francisco are running for – and winning – seats on the DCCC. In this election, out of 24 seats, 9 members of the Board of Supervisors (and counting) have filed to run, along with 3 School Board members, 2 Community College Board members, one former State Assembly Member and 2 former Supervisors. Today, Chair of the California Democratic Party John Burton filed. That’s a lot of political juice in one race.

But why do so many heavy hitters want a spot on the party’s board? Because the Democratic Party is the most important endorsement in town, and each of these officials want a say in it. Most of them want to make sure that they secure the party’s endorsement for their own races, or for those of their allies. And – just as important – running for DCCC allows candidates for city offices to get around campaign contribution limits, because they can raise an unlimited amount of money in their DCCC races, and from unrestricted sources.

Each of the current or former elected officials running in June will likely win, because of their existing name recognition and fundraising base. This means there’s less room on the DCCC for party activists who have never held another elective office (like me!). At least forty of us are running in the June election. We have an abundance of Democrats who want to serve the party.

While everyone in local politics admits that this is a problem, very few want to tell our elected officials that they can’t or shouldn’t run for the DCCC. As party leaders, I personally think they should have a say in the Democratic Party’s decisions. And yet we should also make room for the dozens of grassroots activists who want to serve on the DCCC.

To that end, I’ve proposed a bylaws amendment that will radically change the party makeup (text below). It would make the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors each ex officio members of the DCCC, with full voting rights, without needing to run for their seats. This will free up 9 seats for grassroots activists to serve the party. It’s already caused a stir on social media and in the press.

If you want to participate in the conversation, come to our meeting on Wednesday March 16 at 7pm, Milton Marks Auditorium in the State Building, 455 Golden Gate Avenue. I guarantee it’ll be a fascinating debate. For political junkies like me, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Resolution of the San Francisco Democratic Party

Amending the Party’s Bylaws and its Policies & Procedure Manual to Add the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor as Ex Officio Members

WHEREAS, the Bylaws of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (SFDCCC) and its Policies & Procedures Manual allow for registered Democrats who hold state and federal offices who reside in San Francisco to serve as ex officio members of the SFDCCC. These members currently include State Senator Leno, State Assembly members Ting and Chiu, US Senator Feinstein, Congresswomen Pelosi and Speier, and Board of Equalization Member Ma. These members have the same voting rights as a member who is independently elected to the SFDCCC.

WHEREAS, the races for seats on the SFDCCCC have become as competitive as those for any other elective office in San Francisco, in part because current and former elected officials run for – and hold – these seats. This means that the number of DCCC seats available for party activists who have never held another office, and who have the time and energy to dedicate to the party’s activities, is shrinking.

WHEREAS, the members of the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor, as leaders within the local Democratic Party, should each have a voice in the party’s decisions. Giving them each an ex officio membership in the SFDCCC will give them that voice, and will free up several seats for party activists who do not currently hold another elective office. The SFDCCC Bylaws provide that no ex officio member may also hold an elected seat on the SFDCCC.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic Party hereby amends Article II, Section 1(a)(2) of its Bylaws and Article XI, Section 1 of its Policies & Procedures Manual to add the Mayor of San Francisco and the Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors as ex officio members of the SFDCCC if they are registered Democrats, as more specifically provided in Attachment A and Attachment B hereto; and hereby corrects Article II, Section 1(a)(2) of its Bylaws to add US Senator to the list of ex officio members of the SFDCCC as more specifically provided in Attachment A hereto.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution will become effective upon the date that the results of the June 2016 election are certified.

Sponsor:  Alix Rosenthal

 

Attachment A

Proposed Bylaws Amendment

New language appears in bold underline. Deleted language appears in bold strikethrough.

Article II: MEMBERSHIP

Section 1: MEMBERSHIP

a. SFDCCC MEMBERSHIP

  1. Ex Officio members shall consist of the following:
    A. Any Democrat who is elected or otherwise designated to serve, or who is serving in the following elected offices representing the City and County of San Francisco in whole or in part:
    i. Assemblyperson
    ii. State Senator
    iii. Congressperson
    iv. United States Senator
    v. Mayor
    vi. Members of the Board of Supervisors

 

 

Attachment B

Proposed Amendment to Policies & Procedures Manual

New language appears in bold underline. Deleted language appears in bold strikethrough.

ARTICLE XI. MEMBERSHIP CATEGORY AND MEMBER LIST POLICY

1.0 The SFDCCC has three types of members. These are elected members, ex officio members and associate members.

a) The elected members are those members elected by the registered Democrats in the member’s Assembly District (AD). They are voting members of the SFDCCC.

b) Ex officio members are elected public office holders from the Democratic Party who are the current members of the California Assembly and State Senate representing San Francisco, U.S. Congressional Representatives from San Francisco, andS. Senators who reside in San Francisco, Mayor of San Francisco, and members of the Board of Supervisors. Ex officio members may each send a designated representative in place of attending the SFDCCC meeting personally. Ex officio members exercise the right to vote, or, in their place, their representatives have that right.

c) Associate members are the chairs or presidents of each of the chartered San Francisco Democratic clubs. Each club has one associate member. The associate member may participate in discussion but does not vote.

1.1 The Mayor and the members of the Board of Supervisors will become ex officio members after the results of the June 2016 election are certified. If this change in membership status creates vacancies on the SFDCCC, the Chair will appoint to those seats the top vote getters in their respective races, in the order of the June 2016 election results. For example, if members of the Board of Supervisors are elected to 4 out of the 14 seats in AD-17 in the June 2016 election, the Chair must appoint to those seats the candidates who came in 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th place in that Assembly District in the June 2016 election. If members of the Board of Supervisors are elected to 2 out of the 10 seats in AD-19 in the June 2016 election, the Chair must appoint to those seats the candidates who came in 11th and 12th place in that Assembly District in the June 2016 election.

 

 

 

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