Friday, March 28, 2008

Running for office

Dear GNB family, I am taking another plunge deep into the heart of Democratic Party Politics. I am running for a post as a member of the Democratic National Committee.

I currently serve as chair of Democrats Abroad Japan (kind of like being a democratic party county club leader) But I am putting my hat in the ring for our upcoming election for a DNC position representing the Asia Pacific Region of Democrats Abroad. The election is in two weeks at our region and global caucus which will be held in Vancouver. This is a big step for me, but one that I feel strongly about and I am committed to giving it my all.

This has come about because since 2004 I have taken to heart Howard Dean's comments that voting only gets you a C grade in this day and age, to get a B you must get out there, volunteer, work for a campaign, roll up your sleeves, and for an A you should run for office or take on a leadership role in some way in the party. So I am giving it a try...

The process will be simple, I believe. At the beginning of our Regional Caucus on 4/11 the vote for DNC will be one of the first orders of business. Nominations can and will be taken from the floor, then candidates will briefly speak to the electors and then a vote by show of hands will be taken. The electors are the country chairs, vice chairs or other representatives from the main country committees in our region which include Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, and Australia. The votes are weighted by our voting strength in the Global Primary- so if your country committee had good turn out then you have more votes.

Below is my candidate statement. Reading between the lines you can see some of the issues we have been dealing with as a state party. I would appreciate the feedback and advice of the GNB community. Thanks for your time... and I will update you as the process continues.

Candidate Statement
Position: DNC Member, Asia Pacific

My name is Lauren Shannon, I am a proud grassroots Democrat and a true believer in pragmatic, progressive politics. This year we are choosing a new person to represent our region as a member of the Democratic National Committee. I want to be that person and believe that I can do a good job in the role. I want to take a few minutes of your time to tell you why.

The DNC seats have often been almost ceremonial in the past but as our region grows and gets organized, we really need to use the opportunity to bring information, share feedback with and get feedback from our region to the DNC meetings and to Washington.

I want to focus on representing the region... and reporting back.

I am a good communicator. I believe in the electorate and in real representational government. So if you choose me to for this post—my main focus will be communication with the chairs and country committee officers- finding out what we can do to give and to get more, with other folks in the DNC. I will work to foster energy, excitement and action - together.

I want to use the opportunity to go to DNC meetings specifically to talk to party folks about our efforts out here. I want to share with them how motivated we are, how the region is growing - and that we should be more on their radar.

I want to encourage VIP/DNC people to visit when they are traveling in the region.

In my role as Chair and previous officer positions in DAJ I have successfully arranged and managed events for visitors like Ambassador Foley, Ambassador Peterson, Congresswoman Hirono, Howard Dean and others. I would use this experience to convince and assure members of the Dem Leadership that trips to Asia are a great means of reaching out to donors, voters and volunteers.

I also want to push for better connections in getting our voting site information and absentee ballot issues on state party and campaign websites.

Some Specifics-

I would commit to doing a podcast and a written report each day of the DNC meetings that folks could listen too or read everywhere. I would also (as much as possible) circulate agendas, reports on DNC conference calls, and share what I learn with all of you. I have the Internet experience and the public service experience to commit to this and follow through on getting out the word.

I believe that real empowerment begins with sharing information and talking, thinking and acting on that information - together.

I also want access to the training and discussions that come out of the DNC meetings and I want the chance to share what I learn with everyone in our region.

I believe in complete transparency- And I believe in encouraging new people in leadership roles all through our group. I am a direct and honest communicator and I will always tell you what I am thinking and will always be interested in what the leaders in the region are thinking. I want to hear how we can best represent our members throughout the Asia Pacific group.

I have both online activist and face to face/door to door experience. I worked in the 2004 Iowa Caucus for Gov. Dean- organizing a group of 3 volunteers and garnering international press coverage which allowed us to grow our membership in Japan. And I organized a group of 11 people from Dems abroad in Japan and the UK to work in Florida (Tampa Bay and Sarasota regions) for the Kerry Campaign and for a down ticket race for Tampa County Board Supervisor of Elections. Our group was called Sunshine and Alligators...and we helped Senator Kerry win in all three precincts. I have also dedicated thousands of hours at home in Japan to register voters, meet and recruit new members, and have tried my best to serve DAJ and the membership first as a fundraiser, then secretary, vice chair and currently chair. I have wanted in the last two years to be more active in our region, and was excited to participate in and support our regional meeting in Thailand, and our Global Primary this year.

These experiences plus decades of support work with various volunteer organizations have given me off line experience that brings a well rounded approach to my political action and activities. I think my energy, outreach skills, and dedication to the region make me an excellent candidate for membership to the DNC.

Online; as a member and officer/ chair of DAJapan I have led the way experimenting and using technology for outreach, via web newsletters,interactive websites, podcasts, and other tech tools. I was also a beta tester of the new international website and still try to help with whatever that development team asks of me. You can see some of the results or my efforts, here:

DAJ Podcast:

DAJ Webnews:

Especially in doing the podcasts we have been able to interview and reach out to members of congress and other Dem VIPS -- and I would want to continue in this effort at the DNC meetings.

In closing, I feel that though we have at least two candidates for this position and both of us are dedicated, talented women, (others may be still be nominated form the floor of our meeting) but we as a region should try to increase the number of people who represent us at the international level. No one candidate should hold multiple seats in the DPCA/ DNC leadership, as we can use the chance of these positions to actively include multiple people's perspectives. This limiting of seats/ voices in Democrats Abroad is not against any rules, but I think that it is in our members' best interest to have as many different people as possible participating at the international and the DNC leadership level. I was disappointed that both the European DNC seat, and the Americas seat will be served by people who already have a significant role in the international leadership as regional chairs, ensuring that fewer members will participate at those levels. I hope we can avoid this same narrowing of the participation in our own region.

I can't wait to meet folks at the regional/ global meetings coming up.I was so sad to miss the Singapore meeting. I am happy to report that my travel schedule and ability to commit to the DNC meetings is looking great for the future. And I am ready to commit to doing the best job that I can if I am given this opportunity to serve by our electors.

I would love your feedback, comments and questions.
So, my beloved blog family-- what do you think? Is there more I should say or do? Does anyone have advice on running for DNC positions? Or other state party elections? I will be happy to put this behind me, and serve if I get the chance, as I am not one for horsetrading and the backroom deals that are often associated with these kinds of positions... But I will try my best.