Saturday, June 2, 2012

Texas State Democratic Convention And The SDEC

by Linda Magid

Delegates to the 2012 Democratic State Convention will assemble in Houston from Thursday, June 7 through Saturday June 9. One of the first items of state convention business that delegates will consider is who they will elect to serve on the State Democratic Executive Committee until the 2014 Democratic State Convention convenes.

But what is the State Democratic Executive Committee and what does it do, exactly? The SDEC is the governing body of the State Party, similar to the County Executive Committee of the County Party. It make decisions, on committees and as a whole, that give the Party direction. Specifically, the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) Rules state that:

The State Democratic Executive Committee (the "SDEC") shall carry on the activities of the Party between State Conventions in compliance (sic) with the law and with the directives of the Convention. (Article III, Section A)

The SDEC is made up of one male and one female committee person who live within each of Texas' 31 state senate districts. SDEC committee persons are elected every two years by senatorial district (SD) delegates who are sent to the state convention by their local county or senatorial district conventions. SDEC candidates campaign for votes among these SD delegates like any other candidate and are elected during SD caucuses scheduled as one of the first times of state convention business.

Some senate districts are made up of more than one county - like SD8 that encompasses parts of Collin and Dallas counties or SD30 that encompasses all or parts of 18 counties, including part of Collin County - while other senate districts are contained inside one county like those in Dallas County. Because the SD lines do not match county lines, and because SD boundaries often shift across county lines due to redistricting, SDEC members have a responsibility to represent Democrats their entire senate district and all of Texas, not just those in their home county.

For example, Cindi Koehn, a Collin County resident, is running for SD30 Committeewoman and, if she wins, will have interests of Democrats across 18 counties, as well as the entire state of Texas, to keep mind.

Ultimately, the most important quality for electing a SDEC committeeman or committeewoman is not where they live but how well you think he or she will represent and serve the interests of all Texas Democrats. It is also important for the SDEC representatives to work well together. While they don't have to vote in the same way nor serve on committees together, they sometimes serve as proxies for each other when one can not attend an SDEC meeting, and they also must work together during the County and State Conventions.

Delegates to the 2012 Democratic State Convention in Houston will assemble in their SD caucuses next Friday afternoon to elect SDEC committeemen and committeewomen, and conduct other business. Immediately upon their election, SDEC committeemen and committeewomen begin their two year term of office.

Additionally, the SDEC includes representatives of special interest groups and Democratic National Committee members. You can find the full list and your representatives on the Texas Democrat Party website.

SDEC members meet formally during the year in Austin, though there are no set numbers of meetings. The SDEC tends to meet more often during elections years. The day begins with committee meetings (committees are: Grassroots, Rules, Legislative, Resolutions, Sustaining Members, Convention, Nominations, and Finance) where needs of the Party are addressed. Later, the entire body meets to vote on committee reports, which can include rules changes, resolutions, and nominations for county chair vacancies.

Different committees perform different functions. For example, The Grassroots Committee, of which I am Secretary, provides support to activists in the TDP through documents (like the Precinct Chair Handbook) and initiatives (currently one of the Grassroots committee members is developing a Latino outreach program). The Legislative Committee formulates the legislative agenda for the Party and works with legislators to gain wins on that agenda. And while most Democrats associate voting on rules and resolutions with their conventions, they are also voted on during SDEC meetings.

For an example of the importance of the SDEC in planning TDP programs: As a member of the Grassroots Committee I asked for and was given time in early 2011 to present "Cellphone Only: Why We Can't Reach Young Voters in Texas" to an audience of not only the 20 or so Grassroots Committee members, but a standing-room-only crowd of observers as well. (For details on this important issue read, "Fastest Growing Democratic Demographic Is Cellphone Only.")

The information given in the presentation was so well received, I had requests for the Powerpoint presentation so that others can talk to their county parties about the "Cellphone Only" problem, and the TDP sponsored a webinar on the topic with me leading.

Since then, State Party Chair Candidate and Cameron County Chair Gilberto Hinojosa asked me to educate him on the issue and create a web-based campaign plan to tackle the program of reaching and motivating Democrats, particularly younger Democrats, in the event that he is elected.

I am also working with Anthony Guttierez and Rebecca Acuna, creators and managers of La Promesa Project, to design an online internet campaign training for activists across Texas.

Occasionally, the SDEC votes to elect a DNC member or a candidate for national office in the event that the current Democratic candidate drops out of the race. But these occurrences are rare. Senate District Representatives do the work of forwarding Democratic Values in the legislature and among the activists as well as fund-raise for the Party and organize Senate District and State conventions. The work is meant to keep the Party on track with its overall commitments: empowering Democrats, widening the voter base and electing Democrats.

View your relationship with your SDEC representatives as resources of information about the Texas Democratic Party and your avenue for making the changes in the Party you want to see made, and elect a committeeman and committeewoman you want to work with for the next two years.

Linda MagidLinda Magid has served as the SD 8 Committeewoman for over two years. She has been a member of the Texas Democratic Women of Collin County since 2008, serving on the TDWCC Board in 2009, is a Sustaining Member of the Texas Democratic Party and a team member of the Common Purpose Project. In 2008, Linda was Campaign Manager for Tom Daley, Democratic Candidate for U.S. House, District 3 and has provided support to several campaigns on a volunteer basis. She also organized both the 2010 and 2012 Collin County Democratic Conventions. Currently, she is a freelance writer, using her experience of ten years as Project Director for a Los Angeles-based creative marketing company to develop online and traditional marketing materials for her clients. Linda is married to Jonathan Magid and mother to Lillian, who just turned eight. Linda is a contributing writer and editor to the Democratic Blog News.

No comments:

Post a Comment