DCDSC Committee Appointments

On January 3rd, we had the fourth DC Democratic State Committee meeting since my term began, and the first in calendar year 2019. I normally get reports up here pretty fast, but I’ve spent the last couple of weeks battling that New Year cold going around.

The January 3rd meeting had two main events:

  1. a speech from Mayor Muriel Bowser, followed by a question-and-answer session, and
  2. appointment of co-chairs to lead the subcommittees through which much of the work of the state committee gets done.

I live-tweeted the proceedings on this thread, and I encourage you to check it out for all the details. My At-Large colleague Janeese Lewis, also a Ward 4 resident, livestreamed Bowser’s speech and the Q&A.

Q&A with Bowser

The content of Bowser’s speech was, for the most part, the same as that covered during the inaugural address she gave the day before, when was sworn in for her second term. The Mayor received plenty of applause, especially as she called for significantly higher investment in affordable housing, but it was the Q&A section that defined the night.

Bowser, who practically coasted to re-election, was speaking in front of the leadership of her own party on the first week of her new term. Normally, you might expect this to be an uneventful affair, a friendly crowd offering praise.  But the questions that state committee members asked, and the way in which they pushed back at some of her responses, suggests that dissatisfaction with some of the Mayor’s policies is broad-based and not limited to the progressive flank.

This was clear when Ward 8 Committeewoman and ANC Commissioner Regina Pixley asked the Mayor to explain skyrocketing crime. Here are my tweets from that exchange:

Pixley was followed by Ward 5 Committeewoman Andra Wicks, who asked if the Mayor was doing everything possible to keep Providence Hospital open.

I had my own question for the Mayor regarding MPD’s decision to charge a Ward 6 ANC Commissioner more than $5,000 to access body camera footage of a controversial incident in which police stopped several teenagers in Capitol Hill. The Mayor said she needed to look more closely at the issue, but assured the room that anyone involved could go to the District and get the footage. I’ve since followed up with the Mayor on this issue, and you can dive in deeper in this post.

At this point in the night, well-known advocate Dee Curry rose to take Bowser (and all of us in the room) to task for the limited transgender representation in the party and for not doing more to elevate transgender voices, especially when talking about issues that acutely impact trans Washingtonians.

Ward 1 Committeewoman Anita Bellamy Shelton then had the most dynamic exchange with Bowser, pressing her to look more closely at the record of Lewis Ferebee, Bowser’s choice to be the next DCPS Chancellor:

I wouldn’t characterize any of these exchanges as adversarial. Instead, I think what we’re seeing is a renewed sense of commitment among some members of party leadership to practice a basic form of accountability.

Any officeholder elected carrying the party’s banner has an obligation to go before the party, hear its concerns, and explain their actions. Likewise, state committee members have an obligation to protect the integrity of the party, to provide an internal check and balance. Are the people who most visibly represent our party actually representing its platform? Are they addressing the issues that Democratic voters care about and in a way that they approve of?

This was a single event, but it was a glimpse at what a healthier party might look like.

Committee Co-Chair Appointments

In previous reports and Ward 4 Action Updates, I’ve predicted that once the the DCDSC’s newly-elected leadership established subcommittees, the real work would begin. That time has now arrived.

Party leadership has established the following committees and appointed chairs and co-chairs to coordinate the work of each:

  • Constitution and By-Laws, which does deep work on committee governance
    • Co Chairs: [TBD]
  • Finance and Fundraising, which is self-explanatory
    • Co Chair: Chioma Iwuoha and Rita Jo Lewis
  • Issues and Programming, which helps review resolutions submitted by members and select topics for committee discussion
    • Co Chairs: Chanell Autrey and Shelley Tompkin
  • Party Organization and Function, which helps manage committee elections and relationships with caucus and constituency groups
    • Co Chairs: Eric Rogers and John Lazar
  • Voter Outreach, Training and Education, which coordinates voter registration, organizes public fora, and develops relationships with other groups across the District
    • Co Chairs: Gordon Andrew-Fletcher and Todd Brogan (me!)
  • Voting Rights and Statehood, which is self-explanatory
    • Co Chairs: Andria Thomas and Jim Bubar
  • Kennedys-King, which is responsible for organizing the annual fundraising dinner
    • Co Chairs: TBA and Shirley Smith
  • Blue Wave, which coordinates with the DNC and helps DC voters support pro-Statehood candidates in other jurisdictions
    • Co Chairs: Elizabeth Mitchell and Beau Finley
  • Chair of Chairs
    • Co Chairs Chuck Burger and Jeanette Mobley

There appear to be some deviations from the announced committees and those that had been laid out for us prior to the appointments.

For example, no appointments were made for a Hospitality Committee or a Communications and Publicity Committee. A Comms committee may be unnecessary, as newly-elected Corresponding Secretary Alexa Wertman-Brown, whose role in large part overlaps with what a Comms committee might do, has already been working hard to convene folks with communications expertise.

The Issues and Resolutions committee was also renamed the “Issues and Programming” committee. Lastly, the Chair of Chairs concept if familiar to me, but I hadn’t seen it on previous list of DCDSC subcommittees. I’m interested to see what its function will be.

Voter Outreach, Training and Education

As noted above, I’m honored to have been appointed to co-chair the Voter Outreach, Training, and Education Committee with Ward 5 Committeeman Gordon Andrew-Fletcher.

Gordon and I have already started discussing what our vision for the committee looks like, and several of our colleagues have signed up to join us. Admittedly, my being sick has slowed us down a bit, but I’m looking forward to sharing with you in more detail all that we’ve got planned in the weeks ahead.

You can view the official minutes, which covers several announcements and discussions I didn’t include here, on the party’s official website by scrolling down to the “Recap of Our Last Meeting” section.

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