LEBANON COUNTY DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE
2017 ANNUAL REPORT
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Our challenges have been: first, getting Democrats in Lebanon County to admit to being Democrats and to get active, and second, increasing turnout.
When we meet those challenges, we win.
Candidates and Campaigns in 2017
LCDC held training sessions for the Primary, mostly on Petitions and Campaign Finances. Then for the General Election we added Candidate Workshops along with “meet the candidates” events. Our city mayoral and council candidates looked good in WLBR debates. We supported the “slate of 8” statewide judicial candidates in November and were happy to see 6 victories. Locally we had 25 Democrats running in November; for many of them it was their first try for public office. Only 9 won but all represented us well and made their opponents work hard. Notably we now have Democrats on school boards in the east, west, north, and south of the county.
In both the primary and general elections, we had active candidates and campaigns, and staff members gained experience for future campaigns. We had some close races in unexpected places and are moving closer to being the political force we want to be in this county.
We increased our monitoring of polling places. In the Primary we marched into the Election Office to make sure the provisional ballot procedure was being followed. No one who believes they are registered should ever go home without voting.
This year Dave Haller took a good look at our finances and prepared a financial operations guide, worked within a detailed budget, and reorganized our mortgage with a real estate line of credit so we have the capacity to deal with building needs. We made property improvements – our exterior sign, inside flooring, carpeting, and painting. Doug Lorenzen and Zach Alger monitored our property; Doug and Pam Bishop and others performed so many housekeeping tasks that it’s impossible to list them all.
Policy and Personnel
To go along with our annual Handbook, we now have a formal organizational chart that will help new folks understand our operation. From a policy standpoint, we established a formal Discrimination and Harassment Policy and adopted the Financial Operations Guideline and new By-Laws.
In personnel, many new committee people were appointed, bringing our official number up to 95 at the end of the year. District Leaders were appointed in the 9th John Harvey and in the 10th Royal Marti. Cornell Wilson was appointed to replace State Committee member Franz Messerschmidt who moved out of the county. We will miss Franz. Harry W. Fenton was appointed City Vice-Chair to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Cesar F. Liriano.
Our internal and external communications improved as we upgraded our internet service, increased our use of social media and public relations, and began to make our documents available to members electronically. Alan Olson and George Manderlink kept good track of our meetings all year, and Alan managed to keep up-to-date the roster of our changing membership. Joel Smith kept our website, Google documents, and Facebook page up to date, and Aimee Culbert took over the public relations role. Joel maintained an up-to-date calendar of activities and participated in PADems events posting as well. Every month Natalie Duvall produced a great newsletter to keep us informed. The Communications subcommittee spearheaded the drive to replace our external sign and is working on a plan to create a mural for the side of our building.
Several major changes were accomplished via a By-Laws revision completed and approved by PADems within the year. Changes included eliminating the position of Assistant Treasurer and renaming the secretarial officers to be Recording Secretary and Corresponding Secretary. The new by-laws allow more flexibility in setting meeting dates and allow for electronic notification. Also established is a new category of membership – At-Large Voting Membership in the County Committee. The LCDC internal organization into 10 districts was altered in that the allocation of precincts to the 10 districts was assigned to the Executive Committee and must be reviewed and may be changed prior to ech year in which committee members are officially elected (e.g., 2018, 2022, 2026). A new allocation of precincts was made and will be effective January 1, 2018.
Initiatives – Hispanic, Women, Young Dems
During the year the Hispanic Initiative, led by Cesar F. Liriano, remained active with fundraisers, the wildly successful Fiesta Latina, and the GOTV event Salsa the Vote. The Women’s Initiative, led by Lorraine Scudder, had a successful Celebration of Women Candidates in the spring and worked to collect materials to aid folks in Puerto Rico. Young Dems, led by Aimee Culbert, hosted an art event as part of Lebanon City’s First Friday Art Walk.
Data and Information
Matt Duvall undertook a review of our various databases and lists; in 2018 he will oversee the implementation of a consolidation of data to fill most of our needs not covered by the voter database (Votebuilder) provided by PADems.
David Haller has taken the Handbook under his wing and provided updates to both the printed versions and the online version that Joel Smith has in the LCDC Google file.
In the summer Susan Wood led us in a review of the state of LCDC and helped us in our plan for the future. That resulted in task forces on Platform, Committee, Candidates, Resources, and Representation. By December, the task forces completed their work and a “roundup” was held to pull together goals and actions for 2018 and incorporate those goals and actions into LCDC’s organizational structure and budget. One new subcommittee has already been established by the Summit – Recruitment and Engagement, headed by Theresa Gassert.
Throughout the year, instructional sessions were held on a variety of topics, with outside speakers and LCDC panels. Former Mayor Jackie Parker came back to talk about Lebanon City politics; Greg Paulson spoke on campaign finance and petitions; Mike Wilson spoke on campaign planning. Candidate Workshops were held in the summer for candidates running in the General Election; topics covered finding voters, learning from experienced candidates, and GOTV for the final weeks. We also staged mock debates to prepare city mayoral and council candidates for the WLBR broadcast debates. In preparation for the 2018 election of County Committee Members, Ellen Gecker organized reviews of the role and responsibilities of county members. David Haller offered a Deminar on using Excel and Word.
Our spring dinner was highlighted by Dr. Joyce Davis, President & CEO of the World Affairs Council of Harrisburg, and our fall dinner by
Dr. Jamie Longazel, author of Undocumented Fears. Zach Alger hosted our annual picnic at his farm – weather cooperated and we were blessed with visits from many local and judicial candidates.
Liaison with External Progressive Groups
L.E.A.D. continues to hold its issue discussions monthly at the Sinkhole Saloon; many LCDC members attend and help out with the leadership roles now that the Grumbachers have emeritus status!
Throughout the year LCDC worked with PADems projects (e.g., March into 2018 with Will Kampfman), and outside progressive groups such as Unite for American (Mark Pinsley), Progressive Social Network (Natalie Duvall), Indivisible, and What Now (Faith Mumma) to register voters, stage rallies, and take other actions to lobby current legislators. Laura Quick serves as liaison to the outside groups.
LCDC is gearing up for important congressional elections in the 6th and 15th Districts, both of which are possible wins for Democrats this year. We expect Gov. Wolf to be our candidate again for Governor, but there will surely be a contested primary for Lt. Governor, with a half-dozen already in the race. Cesar F. Liriano has announced his candidacy for House District 101, but we are still looking for candidates in House District 102nd and Senate District 48.
LCDC Committee Members will be on the ballot in the 2018 Primary. We hope to have 3 candidates filing petitions (with 10+ signatures) in each of our 55 precincts. Following the Primary, those elected will gather at our Reorganization Meeting June 13th to elect LCDC officers and district leaders for the 2018-2022 term.
Whatever else happened in 2017 or what we hope for 2018, one thing is certain, we have friends in the Lebanon County Democratic Committee. And, thanks to the outreach that Theresa Gassert and Dan Sidelnick are planning for February, we will most likely make new friends and bring new active Democrats and candidates to our committee.
Happy New Year!
Lois Herr, Chair, Lebanon County Democratic Committee
January 1, 2018