Time to Reflect

By Sam Mitchell

Dear Democratic Women and Friends,

As 2016 draws to a close, it is time to reflect for a moment on what Madison County Democratic Women has achieved.

  • Our membership has skyrocketed from 47 members to close to 170 as of our membership brunch in December.
  • We awarded two JFK Scholarships this year and had an active review committee.
  • We revamped our website and are now hard at work filling it with useful, timely and relevant information (democraticwomenofmadisoncounty.com).
  • We held a JFK dinner with close to 100 attendees, and reinstated awards from years past.
  • We hosted a variety of speakers, including John Archibald, columnist for AL.com; Joe Ward, long time education activist, candidates Will Boyd and Ron Crumpton, and Dalton Johnson and Dr. Robinson from the Alabama Women’s Clinic and many others.
  • We conducted a candidate training for candidates who were members of Democratic Women and brought in Forward Alabama to provide their expertise.
  • We supported campaigns. Members of Democratic Women supported Lena Sledge (Madison City Council, District 7), Michelle Watkins (Huntsville City Schools, District 1), Laurie McCaulley (Huntsville City Schools, District 1), Corrie Wikoff (Madison County Schools, District 5), and Michelda Johnson (Huntsville City Council, District 1), Roger Jones (Madison County Commission, District 1) and Bob Harrison (Madison County Commission, District 6).   We also worked hard for Ron Crumpton, US Senate, and Will Boyd (US Congress, District 5).  Members canvassed, made phone calls, provided moral support and funding.  Michelle Watkins, Roger Jones and Bob Harrison all had successful campaigns, and are now hard at work at supporting the principles of the Democratic Party in their respective offices.
  • We supported the Madison County Democratic Party in its election efforts. Democratic women were at every event, and were heavily involved in staffing headquarters, recruiting and organizing volunteers, and registering voters. Democratic Women served as poll workers, poll watchers and poll greeters.

We learned a lot- the organization has a far greater capacity to support campaigns and develop candidates at the end of 2016 than we did in the beginning.

We lost.  We all knew that Hillary Clinton would not win in Alabama.  As a local organization, we were focused on local races and races that we had a chance of winning.

That loss has been transformative.  In the few weeks before the election, the Facebook page, Pantsuit Nation, formed.  That quickly took off, and an Alabama page and then a North Alabama page was formed the day of the election.  In the few short weeks since the election, Pantsuit Nation, North Alabama has grown to 1500 participants.  Not all are Democrats. All are concerned and wary (at the very least) about a Trump Administration.  All are concerned about the future of women. All are concerned about the impact that Trump will have on issues that affect women. Along with Pantsuit Nation, there has been an unprecedented level of interest in the party and in related Democratic organizations.

In the past few weeks, Democratic Women has made some huge changes and some huge strides. I would like to share those with you, and to give you a broad-brush look at what we are planning for the coming year.

A planning meeting was held on December 4 with a variety of members. In just four hours, we came to consensus on specific goals and action items for 2017.  Discussion and implementation of those items is underway.

In the next year, Democratic Women will:

  • Revise our bylaws to meet the needs of the organization today and in the future
  • Reinvigorate our communications programs to ensure that all members and allies can be actively engaged and informed. This will include the ability to pay for luncheons and membership on the website as well as a private area of the site for members only.
  • Expand our programs so that a variety of opportunities exist to engage in the issues, network, learn and contribute to the expansion and strength of the party in Madison County.  To that end, we will be holding evening and weekend programs, as well as our Learning Opportunities series which will focus on skill building and practical information.
  • Develop our membership to increase diversity, strength and talents.
  • Expand our ability to support the goal of electing Democratic candidates. Efforts are already underway in candidate recruitment, providing training, and providing concrete information that can assist a candidate in deciding to run, and in putting together a successful campaign.
  • Develop and refine our PAC. We have traditionally provided funding to candidates when funds were available. Now we will turn our efforts into developing a PAC that will support candidates patiruclarly in the beginning of a campaign and will focus on female candidates.
  • Continue to support the principles of the Democratic Party.

To that end, we have re-organized into task groups- language that focuses on action.  There are five task groups: Communications, Political, Membership, Programs and Governance.  The range of tasks within each is broad, and all the task groups require the assistance of our members.  I am confident in our leadership: Lisa Handback and Alanna Morrison (Communications), Amy Shadoin and Corrie Wikoff (Political), Janice Marsh (Membership), Pam Miles (Programs) and myself (Governance).  I am confident in our members.  And I am confident that Democratic Women will continue to be the “life of the Party” and will help pave the way for the election of Democrats in 2018 and beyond.

Alanna Morrison and Lisa Handback will email you with detailed information about how you can participate in a task group. There are many opportunities that require many skills- and we know that our members have them. You will also continue to receive lots of information about upcoming events and programs.

Come, be a part of the life of the party!  If you have not joined yet for 2017, please do so.  We have never needed the strength of the Democratic Party more, and we have never needed you more.

Susan Higgins