The weekend of March 7-8 was indeed a busy one for Mary Borevitz, Betty Ball, Pia Harris-Ebert, Pam and Gary Bland, Peg Mitchell, and Myrna Baker who attended the State Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles. Everyone who attended with the exception of Gary were elected delegates. Gary was planning on attending merely as an observer, however, two hours after he arrived that all changed. As Gary described, “At four o’clock on Friday, the first day of the convention, I was simply an attendee, but by 6 PM I was a proxy delegate which made the entire experience much more enlightening for me. I think everyone should go through the experience of being a delegate at a State Convention.”
The action started immediately upon arrival. After acquiring the necessary credentials, we headed right for the various caucuses that were held throughout the afternoon and evening. Our delegates attended the Women’s, Labor, LGBT, Progressive and Environmental Caucuses among the many held. Caucuses are where topics of specific focus are discussed, resolutions passed, and recommendations for resolutions to be included as a plank in the party platform are adopted.
Cycling through the many caucus meetings were all the candidates running for various Assembly, Senate and statewide offices, each given a few minutes to speak. This was important as delegates vote at the convention on who the party should officially endorse. This year was very difficult as there are good Democrats running against each other for key statewide positions and most resulted in an official “no endorsement” position. Our local Congressional candidates, James Kimber and Dave Peiser, worked the caucuses and convention floor all weekend!
Saturday was the action packed day, starting with a pre-convention “No Fracking” rally outside the entrance to the convention center. The topic of fracking in California has become a hot environmental topic, one that has concerned and confused many regarding the surprising embrace our environmentally conscious Governor has afforded the practice. Delegates gathered outside the convention center holding signs telling the Governor “Climate Leaders Don’t Frack”.
The general session got underway and continued all day with inspiring speakers including Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Next Generation Founder and billionaire Democratic supporter Tom Steyer. Finally the main speaker, Governor Jerry Brown took the stage. He described how California has defied description as “a failed state” and is now on the comeback. As he began to address the issues of drought and climate change, the “no fracking” sentiment spilled out onto the convention floor with hundreds of delegates holding up signs saying “Another Democrat Against Fracking”. Some flocked to the front of the stage to ensure they were not only seen but heard, as some shouted “No Fracking”. Although it was never planned to interrupt or disrespect the Governor (it was to be a silent protest) some could not reconcile his words with his actions. Overall the Governor’s speech was well received and thoughtful in spite of the heckling he had to endure which he handled well. You can watch his speech on our home page, or click here.
The party’s embrace of diversity, something that makes us all proud, was on full display at the convention. The lunch and dinner keynote speakers were Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Julian Castro, the Mayor of San Antonio, Texas and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), the first and only Muslim member of Congress. They were inspiring and well spoken and gave many of us hope for the future.
The highlight for a few of those who attended were the speakers at the Progressive Caucus, particularly House Member Alan Grayson, from Florida. As Gary Bland mentioned, “The biggest take-away for me was when Alan Grayson reiterated to us that all Democrats are in this together and we care for all regardless of religion, race, color, income, or political party. This is not true of the Republicans who really only care about their own wealth.”
After hearing the many wonderful speakers, all of whom espouse the ideals we stand for as Democrats, we came home honored and proud to be part of what makes our country great. As Mary Borevitz described, “When I think back to the LA State Democratic Party Convention, I can feel the excitement in the air. What a grand experience to be surrounded by hundreds of people filling the convention center, shouting for increases to the minimum wage, applauding for environmental security, an end to fracking, a woman’s right to choose, closing the income inequality gap, and Obamacare. What could be better than that? There were so many individuals from throughout California coming together to support each other and all those impressive values of being a Democrat! I can’t wait for next year in Anaheim!!”
Now we all need to do our part in this process – vote in the primary and the general election and get all your friends and family out to do the same! The process is only as good as those who embrace it and use it!