Editor's note: Today, we've got the second question that we posed to the four candidates for DPO party chair. Their emailed answers are posted after the jump, in the order they were received. We encourage you to join the conversation, ask follow-up questions, and debate their answers. The election for Democratic state party chair is on March 10. Question #1 is over here.
Our second question:
The DPO has a full-time and professional staff. What are and should be the roles of the elected party officers in the party? Should the party chair also be full-time and/or draw a salary? What are the similarities and differences between being a party officer and serving on the board of a non-profit?
After the jump, answers from Carol Voisin, Meredith Wood Smith, Dan Carol, and Mac Prichard...
The roles of elected officers in the party are set forth in the bylaws. There is considerable room in the bylaws for interpretation of those roles. But the bottom line is that those roles can and should be fine tuned with the state central committee. As Chair I would work with the Vice Chairs to set up how best we can work together, utilizing our strengths to hit the road running to develop a strategy for 2008 to get Democrats elected. This would be done hand-in-hand with the central committee.
The party chair should eventually be full time. If the chair is full time there should be a stipend.
Having served on the boards of many non-profits and currently serving as president of one, I come to this candidacy with considerable experience with non-profits. In fact, the similarity of the by laws of the DPO and the polity of mainline protestant denominations is striking. The Chair of a non-profit serves as the spokesperson of the organization and the leader who listens and enables volunteers to fully participate while focused on the goal – getting Democrats elected to office.
Meredith Wood Smith:
The officers are “Board of Directors” for the DPO. The Chair is the CEO, spokesperson, appoints all committee chairs, vice chairs and some members, special committees and presides at all meetings. The other elected officers (Vice Chairs, Secretary and Treasurer) assume the normal responsibilities of those positions. The elected DNC Committee members serve on the DPO Administration Committee. Officers roles are determined by the DPO Bylaws (go to www.dpo.org for more info)
The Chair (along with the other officers) directs the affairs of the party as much as his or her time permits. If I am elected Chair I will work full time. I have often put in many 40 Hr weeks over the last 4 yrs as Vice Chair. With the professional staff of the DPO; the Chair drawing a salary is not the best use of our funds. After all, we are party of volunteers!
The officers of the DPO are very similar to other non-profit organization boards with the exception that some of our responsibilities and requirements are determined by Oregon law. We “set and implement the agenda”, elect Democrats and speak out on behalf of Democrats through out the state.
I see the role of the chair to be pretty straightforward: help set and drive the strategic agenda of the party. For this coming cycle, that means:
(1) Putting actual meat on the bones of what a 36 county strategy really needs to BE -- in a way that strengthens results, outcomes, trust between DPO and each county chair;
(2) Mounting an effective challenge to Gordon Smith and making that happen soon so he doesn’t spend his $8 million or more against our local candidates and make it way harder to hold onto key statewide offices (AG, State Treasurer, Secretary of State) that are up for grabs in 2008;
(3) Creating a new marketing program so the DPO stops losing “customers” and makes Oregon Democrats an exciting brand for political and civic participation that exemplifies practical & progressive politics in the MoveOn era;
(4) Raising money; and
(5) Raising money.
I am honestly much more comfortable dialing for dollars as an unpaid chair, working with a strong ED and paid staff and that is how I currently see the position.
I think the role of the DPO chair is to help set goals for the party, raise money, and deliver our message. Making these things happen takes a seasoned political operative with excellent leadership and management skills and a record of accomplishment.
I believe I meet those tests. I’m a Harvard-trained manager who led grassroots teams across Oregon that raised more than $650,000 for Howard Dean, John Kerry, and the DPO. I set up a faith outreach effort that was so successful Governor Dean asked me to briefing him about it. I’ve run communication programs in Oregon and Massachusetts, including for Boston’s “Big Dig”, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. And I’ve written speeches for John Kitzhaber and handled City Hall press for Earl Blumenauer.
One of my strengths is building and leading teams to achieve measurable outcomes. If elected chair I’ll work with the officers, executive team and county leaders to create, implement, and oversee a strategic plan – including a 36-county strategy -- with clear goals, responsibilities, and budget. I believe the chair’s job should remain voluntary and part-time through 2008. And as I’ve done in past DPO positions, I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.