By Alan Holland of Salem, Oregon. Alan is a retired public school teacher and the Chair of Polk County Democrats.
This is a call to action. It’s abundantly clear that we are in the midst of a historic wave of change of massive proportions in American politics. Here in Oregon, at last count, we have had over 118,000 new Democratic voter registrations since December 2007. Marion County now has a Democratic majority, and adjacent Polk county has had over 1,100 new D’s to pull within 2000 votes of the R’s and enough Independents to make up the difference. The trend is statewide and bodes well for Democratic candidates who will likely ride this wave to a new and powerful majority in the Oregon House and Senate. Additionally, Gordon Smith is seriously threatened; to have an all-Democratic pair of Senators from Oregon would be a big win.
As chair of the Polk County Central Committee, I am at once encouraged yet frustrated. There is something wrong when you look at the whole political picture of involvement because the sentiments motivating the changes are largely focused on the Presidential race. However, local involvement, measured by county precinct committee persons filing is not reflecting the same trend. We need D’s to know that in order to see change in government that most directly affects us - we must work in state, county, and municipal elections.
It is well and good to get Barack or Hillary elected so we get out of Iraq, work on affordable health care, improve energy policy, and restore constitutional balance to the federal government. But the President is only one person responsible for one branch of government and needs Executive the legislature to enact the laws.
But what about local land use practices affecting our own environment, water availability, and personal quality of life? What about our school funding and prison expenses? Collective bargaining rights and unions are under attack, too. Local officials are more influential in creating a fair and sustainable economy, while balancing growth and need for jobs while providing stable and adequate funding for all our human needs and investments. Democrats need to have volunteers and PCPs to work on local elections, inform voters, and get out the votes for local candidates and issues.
This is a call to activism for people to join and work for county parties. I extend a welcome to Democrats who want real change, who will phone, staff offices, organize fundraisers, canvass, put up signs, write letters to papers, and do the myriad of other tasks required to elect local candidates and deal appropriately with ballot measures.
The Presidential campaigns have millions of dollars and great inspiration behind them, but real change we need and can see must start at the county party level and continue after the big guys leave Oregon. Precinct Committee Persons can be elected by as few as three (3) write in votes - or even just signed up at a county party meeting.