Congratulations are in order for the Maricopa County Democratic Party, citizens and voters. Precinct committeepersons this morning elected Laura Copple to serve as chair for 2013 and 2014.
Laura's a grassroots superstar. She knows how to build relationships, encourage people (young and old, rich or poor, etc) and get the job done. But she is NOT (all by herself) the be all or end all to MCDP and she will not be alone in the quest to turn Maricopa County and Arizona BLUE.
More than 250 Democratic activists showed up this morning and gracefully handled a democratic election with multiple candidates for the chair and vice-chair positions. Each candidate (and those who nominated them) made a pitch. The vote totals and margins were neither razor thin nor absurdly lopsided. To me, this means there was a healthy level of disagreement along with a reasonable way to handle the importance of the decisions those votes represented.
While there had been discussion of concerns over the last few weeks regarding the 2012 election season, there was no undercurrent of acrimony or hostility. Of course, there were also very real electoral victories.
I believe Copple's willingness to listen to and work with those who brought (or will bring) up concerns has already gone a long way toward addressing those concerns.
I have FULL confidence in the entire body of Precinct Committeepersons, activists and executive committees of each Democratic legislative district group in Maricopa County that the vision and collective talent will be immediately focused on building for a successful 2014 election season.
Steven Slugocki, who has served as MCDP treasurer for the last two years, was elected First Vice-Chair. His experience will be a tremendous asset in the transition for the new executive committee. He has contagious enthusiasm and high level of energy.
Kristin Foster, a PC in LD17 and teacher in South Phoenix schools was elected Second Vice-Chair; Dan Trozzi is the new Treasurer; Jacqueline Sandoval was elected Sargeant-at-Arms and Robert Donat is the new MCDP Secretary.
Each brings new enthusiasm to the MCDP, but I am particularly excited about what I believe Robert Donat will do to revamp and update the website to make it easier to feel connected to each other in our mutual endeavor over the next two year period.
Longtime Democratic activist Carol Corsica also spent some time talking (informally, afterward) about the history of standing and ad hoc committees and recruiting for prospective committees. She is particularly interested in election integrity. She invited people to contact her if they are interested in learning more.
There are provisions in Arizona statutes for volunteers to be more actively involved in polling place monitoring. But to take advantage (and minimize problems like we saw with unacceptably high levels of provisional ballots last month), volunteer recruitment and training has to begin well ahead of the next election dates.
By the way, one concern that had been brought up recently is that "patting ourselves on the back" for how the 2012 election ended up might cause a let down in goals and expectations. Nobody I know is satisfied, however, with the fact that voters in Maricopa County re-elected its notorious nativist sheriff.
Ann Wallack and the 2011-2012 MCDP executive committee and volunteers did a tremendous job. But EVERYBODY is hungry to "take it to the next level."
On Wednesday, Copple described her vision for GOTV (Get Out The Vote) when speaking to a meeting of Democracy For America -- Maricopa County. In legislative districts with strong Democratic voter advantage, if those voters do not turn out (perhaps believing it is not necessary because their state lawmakers are unopposed in the general election), that adversely impacts the chances for our candidates in statewide (or countywide) races. Needless to say, she sees this as a key opportunity to enhance Democratic electoral performance.
The bottom line is that together WE can make a difference and change the political culture in Arizona.
Make no mistake, Republican state lawmakers are UNLIKELY to seriously moderate their quest to enact draconian legislation that infringes on individual liberties (for example, like last year, under the guise of religious freedom for corporations), attacks on social safety net programs and diminishing worker rights (under the guise of making Arizona more favorable for companies to bring jobs to our state).
With the GOP continuing to move in that direction, opportunity for Democrats to elect common sense candidates who will actually represent the PEOPLE will be better in 2014 than it was this year.