Making the Northampton County Democratic Party Work Into the Future

Northampton County, Pennsylvania is a uniquely important county in American Politics. Generally, for about as far back as you would care to look, the Presidential candidate who wins Northampton County, wins Pennsylvania, and very often, the election. We are a swing county, one that went from Obama to Trump. We are in a very swing Congressional District (D+1). We are in one of the most swing of swing states. We are our own little world. We’re also important to the rest of the world.

The state of our county Democratic Party isn’t great, and that has big implications in the political universe. We have missed quorum in two of the last three attempted county meetings. The Executive Board meets very rarely, probably averaging less than once a year. Our Treasurer of official record resigned over a year ago, and the books haven’t undergone an independent audit. The area committees that are supposed to drive the committee on the whole never got that promised re-drawing from four years ago. Only four of the nine area committees even meet at this point. Despite the unprecedented anti-Trump energy and activism of the past 20 months, virtually the same number of people filed to run for the committee in this primary. Our elected officials are unhappy and view the committee unfavorably. We sent a mailer out in 2017, via first class mail, on the behalf of our county council slate- and it arrived the day after the election. Organized labor is unhappy with the committee as well, which could be fatal (they are some of our biggest donors). Things aren’t good.

I learned a long time ago that you don’t promise the moon, it’s hard to deliver. You promise what you can deliver. I would like to see the leadership for the next term make a few concrete promises that they can deliver on. In my opinion, they should be:

  1. Repair relations with the local elected officials that we helped elect. We nominated, advocated, and voted for our County Executive and Council. Then they feel we stepped on their messages, in an effort to run their campaigns. Candidates set their message. We support them. We need to get back to that.
  2. Repair relations with organized labor by supporting pro-labor candidates and recruiting candidates committed to the cause of organized labor. Labor feels like they’ve been treated as an ATM by the party. They feel we’ve opposed some of their candidates. That has to stop. We have to be committed to their cause on issues from prevailing wage to the minimum wage. We have to nominate people who support them, period.
  3. Have the state Democratic Party conduct an independent audit of the books and get a Treasurer on the job. It is unacceptable that this position has sat open so long. Right now, nobody would want it, due to the lack of certainty about the state of our books. This needs to be rectified, immediately.
  4. Four meetings of the general body a year, every year. One per quarter. One before petitions. One before the primary. One around Labor Day. One in October.
  5. Bring forward a new map of area committees within the next year. This seems simple. Four to six areas is all we can carry. Get a map to vote on, now.
  6. Lower quorum from the 40% set by the current leadership to 30 people a meeting. The 40% number is ridiculous, but that’s what they chose. Lower it to 30, a number we better be able to get out to meetings.
  7. Six executive board “meetings” a year. One every other month, with minutes, if only to check in. It can be done via conference call, Skype, or whatever other technology is needed to get everyone together.
  8. Creation of a “Northampton County Democratic Club” to allow people not elected as committeeman or committeewoman to take part in our organizations. Rather than fighting the DNC gender balance rules, create a structure under the party to allow non-committee people an outlet to be involved. This is common place in New Jersey, where strong municipal committees have more activists than slots.
  9. Enforcement of the rules, uniformly, from day one. If someone isn’t attending any meetings, is endorsing Republicans, or otherwise violating our rules, remove them in accordance with the bylaws. Don’t start in year four though, do it from day one.
  10. Work on increasing Democratic registration and turnout. Make voter registration and outreach to infrequent voters a permanent mission of the party, rather than fighting with campaigns who need to spend their time appealing to the super-voters that usually decide elections. Do our job, let them do their’s.

That’s my take. What’s your’s?

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