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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Constituency Councils

So far, our discussions about DECs have revolved around structure and procedure. We haven't focused too much yet on outreach.

There are many constituency or issue groups in many of Florida's counties. DECs should be making every effort to connect with these groups, network with their leadership and organization(s), and overall forge new community partnerships.

I believe these parnterships can best be formed through Constituency Councils, a group of 5-10 influential or supportive Democrats of a certain constituency or issue group. Here are a few possible Constituency Councils which a DEC can form:
  • Small Business/Economic Development Council
  • Women's Council
  • African American Council
  • Hispanic/Latino Council
  • LGBT Council
  • Youth Council (or Young Democrats)
  • Senior's Council
  • Education Council
  • Environmental/Growth/Quality of Life Council
  • Healthcare Council
  • Families Council
  • Worker's Council (legal issues might be involved here if Union members get involved, not sure though to be honest)
  • Religious Council
Not only can these groups be conduits to the communities they represent, they can be extensions of the DEC's policy and fundraising arms. These groups can be asked to assist in the research for a policy report, or host a fundraiser and use their community contacts to boost attendance and raise needed funds.

The benefits of having a number of Constituency Councils, as alluded to in the previous paragraph, are numerous. Various councils can connect the DEC with the community. Let's face it, DEC members are very political people, the vast majority of citizens and voters are not. Also, DEC members may not be the greatest cross-section of the county and need outside voices to let the Party know what's going on on the ground in the community. Therefore, community concerns can be quickly identified and responded to or communicated to the appropriate public officials and bureaucrats by DEC staff or volunteers.

Even with all of these benefits, I think the greatest benefit is a transformation of how the public views its local Democratic Parties. Even though the local party's main responsibility is electing and reelecting Democratic candidates to public office, the public will increasingly view the Democratic Party as more than that: a community institution devoted to increasing the quality of life for all people.