God knows what prompted a demur, innocent hipster like me to decide to run for an elected office, albeit a seemingly unimportant one like The Democratic County Central Committee, but I did. So what is involved in this decision, once made? For starters, you go to the Department of Elections and register. They then give you a mountain of paperwork to fill out and a signature petition where you ask registered Democrats who live in the district you’re running in to sign to get your name on the ballot. That got done within a couple days.
Then you file with The Secretary of State and receive a campaign number. You register with The Ethics Commission, which tells you to fill out more forms of what you can and can’t do with campaign contributions. They require candidates to attend a training session at City Hall.
No criticism intended, but that training was comical when the five Ethics Commission employees learned their presenter was unable to make it and they couldn’t do much of anything. Ultimately, they took our questions and said they’d email us the answers. They had a team of five staffers there who really couldn’t answer candidate questions, but poop happens to all of us.
Then starts the grueling fun of campaigning because there are more than 30 Democratic Clubs sanctioned by The County Central Committee and you want or need their endorsements to get elected, so they say. As a queer candidate who is also a disabled senior living on little more than fumes, it is a challenge, but also great fun.
The Milk and Toklas Clubs came out of the gate early and, of course, I didn’t score with them because their dance cards were already filled.
When I entered the race I had lots of opinions, right and wrong, about this political position and the folks who run for it and, as it turns out, I was wrong. Although I’ve been strongly chastised for my position that elected officials, like Supervisors, should not serve on the Central Committee, most of my fellow candidates are already elected or appointed, so are pretty much pre-endorsed.
I’ve made some great friends, such as Matt Dorsey, Rafael Mandelman, Zoe Dunning, Chris Vasquez, Jo Elias-Jackson, Dean Clark, the brilliant Dr. Justin Morgan, Alix Rosenthal, Chris Gembinski, Rick Hauptman,
Petra DeJesus, Kat Anderson, Joaquin Torres, Arlo Hale-Smith and other truly fascinating men and women. At the same time, I nod and sometimes get a nod back from the established big guns like Supervisors Avalos, Mar, Campos, Chiu, the rock star Carole Migden, bossman Aaron Peskin and Leah Pimental. I’m deeply impressed with the commitment and passion of all these candidates and bemused by the somewhat glib words coming from the mouths of the pro’s. I’m told that most campaign finance rules don’t apply to DCCC races and that the powers that be decided in the last couple years to have already elected players run so they can raise more unrestricted campaign funds for their own future election “banks” and to contribute to others they support.
All told, though, it’s been a rewarding and educational experience, one that can’t be taught in a political science class or learned from a tutorial, so meeting and learning about the people who sacrifice their time and resources to do this grueling work has been a real trip. It reminds me of the old Hollywood Star system where the stars have it made in the shade, and the bit players and extras work their butts off hoping to eat cake too!