In a little publicized piece of legislation in Sacramento, the California Elections Code was changed, such that elections for California Democratic County Central Committees would take place only in Presidential cycles. That means folks like me, elected in 2012, will continue in office until 2016, rather than running for reelection in 2014.
It was seen mainly as a cost-saving measure, due to the fact that in non-Presidential cycles, the only reason for a Democratic ballot in the primary (June) election is for DCCC. Most Departments of Elections would rather avoid the hassle and cost. I think it makes sense, and I look forward to working with my colleagues over the next three and a half years.
On a recent Saturday, I had the privilege of conducting phone interviews with young men and women seeking a nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy from Senator Barbara Boxer. The most depressing part was seeing their dates of birth, almost all in 1995! That made me feel pretty old. But, overall, it was an amazing and inspiring experience.
The applicants came from all over the state. In one interview with a young man in a rural area, you could literally hear cows mooing in the background during the phone interview! The common theme throughout was that they all wanted to serve in some way. It was up to us to better understand if the Academy life and military service was a good fit. It was inspiring to review their letters of recommendation, test scores, transcripts and personal essays, and then piece together their aptitude for succeeding at Annapolis and later in the Fleet or the Marine Corps. It was an honor to participate and the experience helped reinforce my hope and faith in our future leaders.
Speaking of the military . . .
As President Obama begins his second term, he needs to fill a number of key cabinet positions where several Secretaries are stepping down. None is more critical than Senator Chuck Hagelâ€™s nomination to head the Defense Department.
There is quite a debate going on in our community about whether he will be supportive of extending benefits and rights to the families of our LGBT service members. He has come under pressure for previous anti-gay comments during Ambassador James Hormelâ€™s confirmation hearings. That has in many ways given our community more leverage to elicit promises from the nominee on his support for equal benefits.
In a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Hagel recently stated, â€śI fully support the Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 and value the service of all those who fight for our country . . . I know firsthand the profound sacrifice our service members and their families make, and if confirmed as Secretary of Defense, I will do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all our service members.â€ť
Since he is a Vietnam War veteran with tremendous national security experience in the Senate, I feel he has the experience and qualifications to serve as Defense Secretary. Letâ€™s use this opportunity to turn his words into action and ensure our service men and women are receiving equal benefits for equal sacrifice.