Thursday night I attended the Shelby County Democratic Party (SCDP) monthly meeting. I must admit I was pretty disappointed in the lack of performance from this group, especially during the last City elections. In listening to many of its members I was not alone. Members voiced a need for the Party to be more proactive. During the last election some Democratic Clubs each created their own ballot endorsing candidates. This is fine, but the Party needs to develop a ballot as well.
The SCDP has the policy of not endorsing candidates in non-partisan races (that is races where candidates are not required to identify a political affiliation, such as in the City Council race). Seeing that SCDP is THE OFFICIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY their absence allowed some shenanigans to occur. Questionable acts that I personally feel cost some good candidates an opportunity to serve this great City.
Now if I went into the SCDP meeting somewhat disillusioned, let me state I left hopeful. Chairman Keith Norman handled his role as Chair as professional as I have ever seen anyone handle such a position. He addressed many of the members concerns. Such as lack of participation by the body in elections, weak membership, how to market the group and dwindling funds. What most interested me was that SCDP voted last night to put together an exploratory team to look at the organization in the future endorsing candidates in non-partisan races by creating their own ballot. In fact, Chairman Norman made it clear if the Shelby County “Democratic Party” does begin endorsing candidates he expects the “Democratic Clubs” to also fall in line and endorse these candidates. If they fail to do so they could find themselves censured, which is a procedure for publicly reprimanding a person or group for inappropriate behavior. Will this bring all the groups together? Yea, when donkeys fly.
Now as a Community Activist I have always had a love/hate view of ballots. If properly done they can be an additional tool to help voters decide which candidate to endorse. Ballots are guidelines not edicts.
Because I don’t see these Clubs ending their practice of putting out their own ballots I think it is critical that the SCDP put out a ballot by the Party.
I'm the type of person that if I see a problem I'm not going to sit around and whine about it; I'm going to roll up my sleeves and try to help. I plan to devote some of my time to working with the SCDP. Hopefully we can improve the election process for everyone.