Sunday, July 22, 2012

Montgomery County Minorities Begin 2014 Political Organizing // Photos & Quotes: Numerous Elected Officials Seek Change

Karen Britto on Democratic candidate recruitment in 2014 and beyond: "We are stamping out the succession line."

BACKGROUND: Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a "People of Color" summit organized by former Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Chair Karen Britto. This was the second such event Britto organized in recent months, and the gathering drew participation from a large chunk of MoCo's minority elected officials and political activists. As Britto stated in front of the audience of over one-hundred activists and officials, a broad outreach effort is needed for Montgomery County's minority communities. She noted that many are unaware that "the Democratic primary is the only game in Montgomery County. That is practically the whole election." Last March, we printed a press release describing the broad goals of the new electoral coalition (excerpt below):

KAREN BRITTO: As a new, broad coalition of progressive Democratic community leaders, representing the New Majority in Montgomery County, we plan to bring our collective power together to create real opportunities for candidates of color to seek to gain political office.  We believe we can begin the process of creating a more diverse and representative Montgomery County for the future.
CHANGING HOUSING & SERVICE NEEDS IN MONTGOMERY: The summit consisted of a brief series of comments by Montgomery County elected officials and breakout sessions for each of MoCo's state legislative districts. The convening also included a presentation from a representative of the County's Park and Planning Department. The land-use session highlighted that the shifting demographics of Montgomery County were creating new and different service delivery and housing needs. You can see a portion of the presentation below. In short, MoCo's expensive housing stock is creating problems attracting young residents. Planners note that the County is in danger of soon having a population composed disproportionately of retirees instead of workers.

Do you know MoCo? from M-NCPPC on Vimeo.

PHOTOS & COMMENTARY FROM THE SUMMIT: Below we provide photos and quotes from speakers and attendees of the event that help us understand how this coalition may evolve. Note: most of the photos are my own, but I nabbed a few from the Facebook page of Delegate Susan Lee.

Rep. Donna Edwards: "Don't wait until 2014 happens upon us."

A number of the speakers at the summit expressed dissatisfaction with minority vote dilution in Maryland's new state legislative and Congressional district plans. Rep. Donna Edwards, however, avoided talking about redistricting, noting that she's previously said all she's had to say on this topic. Instead, she highlighted the demographic shifts that have occurred in Montgomery County:
REP. DONNA EDWARDS: The Montgomery County of today is not the Montgomery County of twenty years ago. The leadership of the County needs to reflect that.... It's about whether our children and grandchildren see that they can aspire to elected office.... People already in elected office don't have a vested interest in identifying people to run for office. People need to step up.

Takoma Park Councilmember-Elect Jarrett Smith on his razor-thin victory: "We did everything possible to get those 17 votes."

Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin discussed how in her early years as a candidate, political insiders discouraged her from seeking public office.  She advocated that those contemplating office not be scared off by such statements, but make sure to have goals for public office other than career-promotion. She also brought Takoma Park Councilmember-elect Jarrett Smith to the podium, noting that he won his special election last week by seventeen votes. Ervin noted that in the closing days of the campaign, Smith had received endorsements and support from herself and Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer. Notably, Ervin also stated, "I don't know what my plans are for 2014."
COUNCILMEMBER VALERIE ERVIN: I've been a Democrat all my life, but I'm at a point in my life where I'm going to push back. We need to be the change.

MoCo Councilmember Nancy Navarro: "We are the base of the Democratic Party."

Montgomery Councilmember Nancy Navarro commented on Maryland's Congressional Districts and urged the Democratic Party to prioritize inclusiveness of representation when drawing lines:
COUNCILMEMBER NANCY NAVARRO: We are sympathetic to the goal of having another Democrat in Congress, but the Party may have taken for granted our ability to deliver a seat. We need to remember that we are the base of the Democratic Party.

See additional photos from the summit below & at Maryland Juice's Facebook page:

Summit attendees display a show of unity: With Karen Britto, Delegates Susan Lee & Ana Sol Gutierrez, Councilmember Valerie Ervin and more.
David Moon (Maryland Juice) discusses the need for cross-racial electoral coalitions in District 20.

Former Student member of the school board (SMOB) Tim Hwang, with school board member Chris Barclay and Councilmember Nancy Navarro.

District 19 Delegate candidate Jay Hutchins, former Delegate Saqib Ali, and activist Neal Carter.

Takoma Park Councilmember-elect Jarrett Smith and Delegate Al Carr

District 20 breakout discussion participants

Remarks about immigration and the Dream Act from a #JSA representative

A full house attends the second MoCo "People of Color Summit"

Stay tuned for updates on this effort!

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