Rebuilding Our Local Democratic Party

The rebuilding of the Westmoreland County Democratic Party is underway. Some important, and long overdue, initiatives are now in progress to put us back in a position to reestablish our traditional strength, reengage voters and begin consistently winning elections again.

Like many others, I have bemoaned the fact that we’ve gone from dominating local, state and federal elections to losing an alarming amount of them, despite our registration edge countywide. There’s a number of factors why and plenty of blame to go around. But the time to look back is over. It’s time to move forward, with the help of some fresh faces and new ideas, as well as some longtime dedicated friends and allies.

First and foremost, we have a new point person to coordinate our efforts. The Westmoreland County Democratic Committee has its first-ever Executive Director, Jesse Walker. He is a 32-year Loyalhanna Township resident who recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts School of Law and is preparing for the Bar examination. He is young. He is passionate. He is hard-working. He has been a catalyst in reigniting our party-building efforts.

One of his initiatives is to modernize the party’s outreach – something that has admittedly been long overdue. In the past month, we’ve unveiled a new official website (www.westmorelanddems.com), a fresh Facebook page and a Twitter account. If we are to connect with people politically, we need to connect with them on-line.

The backbone of our party is our people – volunteers who are willing to go door to door, spend hours on the phone, stand in the rain on Election Day, and bravely combat all the misinformation that comes from the other side. We are embarking on an outreach tour to reengage those dedicated folks and recruit new ones.

There are many committed Democrats who are willing to work hard for our party if only they are asked. We are asking now.

Starting in June, I am hosting a series of meetings for our current committee people and anyone interested in joining the cause. We will discuss the rights and responsibilities of committee people, the future direction of the party, and our goals for the upcoming general election and beyond. The agenda will include presentations from Executive Director Jesse Walker, current committee officers, and past and present elected officials.

  • Saturday, June 1 – Panera Bread, Wal-Mart Plaza, Hempfield Township, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 8 – Kings Hyde Park, Allegheny Township,
    9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 15 – Lamplighter, Delmont,
    9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 22 – Coffee Bean Café, 3804 Route 30, Latrobe, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, June 29 – Hoss’s, 148 Findley Road, Rostraver Township, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 13 – Fairmont Hahntown VFD, North Huntingdon, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
  • Sunday, July 21 – New Kensington Elks Lodge 932, 3RD Avenue, New Kensington, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Young people – professionals, college students, those not yet registered – are an important component of our rebirth. After all, in many ways they have the most at stake. That’s why I am so encouraged by the revival of the Young Democrats club. After years of being dormant this group met earlier this month to set out its agenda for outreach on college campuses, voter registration drives and more. While I, unfortunately, exceed the age limit for the group, I was happy to join them at their inaugural meeting to offer advice and most certainly my support going forward.

While we make changes to resurrect our party, we cannot forget our friends and allies who have been there through thick and thin. I’m talking about the longtime committee people and party leaders who have refused to give up fighting the good fight even through these tough times. I’m talking about labor leaders who need a strong Democratic Party to help fight for the rights of workers. I’m talking about women’s groups who need the party to help preserve their rights and help remove existing barriers. I’m talking about business leaders who need us to make government work efficiently for them. And I’m talking about the disadvantaged and marginalized – the poor, the disabled, the LGBT community, minorities – to ensure they are not overlooked.

I still believe in the ideals of the Democratic Party – fighting for the middle class, workers’ rights and good government that works for everyone. Establishing a strong and modern infrastructure in our local party will help us better fight for those ideals and begin consistently winning elections again.