Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Now is Not the Time

Marin Voice: Now is not the time to give up on politics

Admittedly this is a crazy time in American politics. Never before have we seen so many presidential appointments come and go so rapidly.

You can almost hear President Donald Trump saying to each one, “Welcome to the White House; don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” as he ushers them in one door and out the other.
Times are rough all over, as people prepare for the 2018 elections, praying there will be a 2018 at all, with a wary eye on North Korea, Iran and Russia.

Not to mention the man behind the White House curtains.

The popularity of politicians is at an all-time low. Whether you don’t trust this government, the previous government or government in general, a lack of trust in elected officials is rampant.

So why would anyone want to run for local office?

LOCAL POLITICS STILL A GOOD BET

Good question. The answer is that the only way to counter the negativity in national politics is to start electing good, ethical people to local offices.

Some of them will go on to higher office and some won’t. Either way, they have the opportunity to make a difference in their towns and cities, their counties and special district areas, like water board, sewer board and of course school boards.

In Marin, most of the city councils have been holding their elections in odd-numbered years. While the state and national elections have all been in even-numbered years, leading to a lopsided voting pattern, with many voters ignoring local elections altogether.

Starting in 2018, local Marin County, (and all of local Califonria), offices will now be elected in even-numbered years, to encourage higher voter turnout. But this year offers a unique final chance to run in an off-year election in these communities: Fairfax, Novato, San Rafael, San Anselmo and Larkspur all have regular elections this year, while Tiburon and Sausalito have special elections to fill a vacancy. 

Some of the terms will be for three years and others for five (except for Tiburon, which is only for one year), until all communities have moved their elections in even numbered years.

If you live in one of these towns, you might consider a run. Maybe you’ve served on a board or commission and have been thinking about running before.

Maybe you’ve been a community volunteer and want to do more. Maybe you just see a need that you are uniquely qualified to fill.

For those jurisdictions where all the incumbents are running to keep their seats, filing closes on Aug. 11. 

But if any incumbent decides not to run, filing will remain open until Aug. 16 for any non-incumbent to run.

The time to make that decision is now. And if not this year, maybe next year, when other seats will be up.

RUN TO WIN!

Even if you haven’t decided what you are running for or when, or even if you want to run, but are curious to learn more about the process, you might want to attend an election training to learn more.
The Marin Women’s Political Action Committee (MWPAC), a nonpartisan group dedicated to helping pro-choice women and men run for office, is holding a campaign training session on Aug. 23, at the McInnis Park Club restaurant in San Rafael. 

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the program will feature campaign professionals, as well as elected officers and editorial page editors, to discuss such things as the nuts and bolts of campaigning, raising funds, managing your time as a candidate and as an elected official and how to get those important newspaper endorsements.

The cost is $30 and includes a buffet dinner and handouts that offer tips for would-be candidates.
MWPAC is a membership organization and welcomes all pro-choice women and men to join.

In September, there will be an endorsement meeting to choose who the organization will support in the coming election.

To vote in that endorsement process, held on Sept. 13, you must be a dues-paying member by Aug. 13, or 30 days before the endorsement night.

More information about the organization and upcoming events can be found at www.mwpac.orgwww.mwpac.org

Dotty LeMieux is a Marin political consultant who leads GreenDog Campaigns in San Rafael. 

And  should all this politicking make you hungry, eat a healthy (or at least tasty) snack while on the campaign trail:

 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's almosts 2018; Where are the Female Candidates?

    Where are the Women?   

A new report from the Sacramento Bee confirms what we have known for a while; the number of female elected officials in California falls far below the goal of fifty/fifty by 2020, the goal of the many women's political groups, both nationally and internationally. It's 31% (or 149) of the City Council seats in 482 California Cities, 69 more than two years ago, but still not parity. In the Legislature, the numbers have actually been going down: 26 as opposed to the 31 in the 2015-2016 session. or 22%. 25% of Supervisors in the 58 Counties are women, and about 42% (or 137) of Mayors are women. Of those only Libby Schaaf of Oakland is the Mayor of one of the ten major cities. 
Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland
We do have 2 U.S. Senators, Dianne Feinstein and newly elected Kamala Harris, but only one Statewide officeholder, Controller Betty T. Yee. Now Fiona Ma is vying to become State Treasurer and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin is running for Governor. And Green Party member, and former Mayor of Richmond Gayle McLaughlin is running for Lt. Governor.

It's a start. Now it's your turn. Think about what you might run for, on the local level, first. City Council, School Board, Water Board, Hospital Board and on and on. The positions are there. Don't let them go begging.

        Run to Win!

Need help figuring it all out? If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or even if not and you can get here, the Marin Women's Political Action Committee is having a mini-seminar in Running for Office, the basic nuts and bolts, how to get endorsements and raise money for your campaign. August 23, in San Rafael. It's only $30, including a buffet dinner and helpful handouts from experts in the local campaign world, yours truly and others in GreenDog Campaigns, my consulting firm among them. Go to www.mwpac.org and sign up today.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Big Upset of Upstarts in France

Here is a post lifted from today's London Guardian on the stunning Parliamentary wins in France of the new Party of Emmanuel Macron, elected President last month. This win seems to solidify the power of his new centrist Party, La République en Marche, to the chagrin of the Socialists and Labor. At least the ultra-Right National Front of Marine Le Pen suffered a solid defeat. Where this all leads I don't know. But here is the Guardian's take on it so far. Next round of voting soon.


France has given its new president an impressive extra mandate. The contrast with the political chaos in Britain is painful
Fortunate car drivers may be familiar with the “green wave”, in which a sequence of traffic lights are coordinated so that each conveniently turns to “go” just as the vehicle approaches. To judge by the first round of France’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, Emmanuel Macron seems to have invented the green wave’s political equivalent.

In the 10 months since he launched his meteoric political career, Mr Macron’s radical centrist project has found every traffic light of the many that might have blocked his path on green. If next week’s second round confirms Sunday’s results, the French president and his new party will have secured an overwhelming parliamentary mandate for his reform agenda. Theresa May, who will sit next to Mr Macron at the Stade de France on Tuesday evening for a football match, can only look on with drooling envy.

At the start of this year, Mr Macron’s fledgling party La République en Marche did not even exist. Now it is projected to win between 400 and 450 seats out of the 577 in France’s national assembly. In Sunday’s first round, La REM finished first in the majority of seats and came far ahead of its nearest rival in terms of national share of the vote. This sweeping success is one of the largest in the history of the Fifth Republic. Yet it has been achieved not by one of the well established parties or blocs but by a new movement, half of whose candidates had never stood for public office before. In some respects this is an even more formidable achievement of mobilisation than Mr Macron’s success a month ago.

It is significant that more than half of French voters failed to go to the polls on Sunday. Turnout was a mere 49%, compared with 78% for the first round of the presidential election at the end of April. Yet this high rate of abstention needs to be interpreted with care. The Fifth Republic’s constitution has always elevated the president above the parliament. National wariness about political “cohabitation” – a president and parliament of competing parties – tends to be reflected in higher abstention on the opposition side, as on Sunday. And the French electorate may be suffering voter fatigue after a succession of primaries and presidential votes in recent months. To that extent, low turnout may not be as damaging in practice to Mr Macron and La REM as the numbers may imply.

For the moment, however, it is Mr Macron’s political opponents who are in disarray. France seems to be witnessing a process of dégagisme – of clearing out old parties and leaders. The left is deflated after the worst Socialist result in parliamentary elections since François Mitterrand refounded the party at the Épinay congress in 1971. The centre-right is deeply divided. Meanwhile the hard right Front National, which lost 4 million votes on Sunday compared with Marine Le Pen’s showing in the first round in April, now faces a gruelling internal conflict over its political direction, a battle that is likely to come to a head at its party conference in 2018.

Mr Macron is on course to win a decisive mandate. This is important not just for France itself but for the European Union. Germany’s willingness to help loosen the eurozone’s fiscal strictness will inevitably have to await the Bundestag elections in September. Yet Berlin will be under little pressure to act unless Mr Macron is seen to be credible as a reformer of France’s high-spending, high-unemployment economy. That depended upon the results in these elections. Signs of improving economic growth are yet another well-timed green light for Mr Macron.

The fact remains that three out of four French voters did not vote for Mr Macron in the first round in the presidential contest, while two out of three of those voting on Sunday did not support La REM either. This will certainly not prevent Mr Macron from getting his public spending plans and his labour market liberalisation proposals through parliament later this year. He will face challenges, perhaps including demonstrations and strikes, from the unions (with whom he has promised to consult over the summer) which will test the resolve and discipline of his tyro legislators. Plans to incorporate emergency anti-terror powers into the criminal code after the welcome ending of France’s 14-month state of emergency provide a further point of conflict. One day, Mr Macron will be faced with a red light. Seen from across the Channel, however, France’s quiet revolution of the centre appears an extraordinary and, in many ways enviable, contrast to the snarl-up in Britain.

Friday, June 2, 2017

California Democratic Party Chair Race Still Up in the Air

Wow, California! We just stepped up to the plate legislatively and passed single payer health care (in the Senate; it still has to be passed in the Assembly and signed by unpredictable Governor Brown). And that same Governor just stood up to Trump and said, "Do what you will, little man, California (along with Washington State and New York) are fighting climate change anyway." California is the world's 6th largest economy, and the US largest state. And it's a (mostly) solidly blue.

So why is our Democratic Party race for Chair such a conundrum? Almost two weeks after the election, we still don't know who the Chair is. The vote count showed Eric Bauman with 62 more votes than Kimberly Ellis. Then Kimberly asked to review the votes cast. Out of 2900 votes, a 62 vote difference is about 2%, slim enough to warrant checking. And close enough to show serious differences in our Party.

Bauman represents the mainstream, long time, inside politician. He's chair of the LA Democratic Party, works with the political committee of the Assembly, and heads a campaign consulting firm who last year got people in a tizzy over siding with big Pharma (and big bucks) over lower drug prices for consumers.

Kimberly Ellis is the long time executive director of Emerge California, a group that trains Democratic women to run for office. More progressive voters (some say "Berniecrats) tended to vote  for Ellis, while more mainline Party oriented Dems went with Bauman. (Bot supported Hillary Clinton in the June primary last year and several Progressive Caucus members voted for Bauman).

Today, we learn that the review has shown "alarming discrepancies and an amassing of ineligible voters to change the outcome of the election" and the Ellis campaign team is calling for an independent audit. Bauman is resisting. If all is on the up and up, why not have an independent outside source prove it? If not, there will be suspicions and hard feelings for years to come.

If we want transparency and any chance at unity, how can this hurt?


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

If You're a Woman, Hire a Female consulting Team

OK, this will sound like shameless self-promotion, and so what? I run a female owned campaign consulting company. We don't work exclusively for women, but we do work for and with a lot of women and issues that women care about, like education. We can be as tough as the guys, but we understand how o tell a story effectively. Women are good at that. If you are a woman candidate running in 2017 or 2018, check us out; check out other female owned firms too. There aren't that many. For some insight into this subject, see Why Female Consultants Matter Right Now by Kate Maeder in Campaigns and Elections Magazine.

Maybe there should be more?



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

There is still no substitute for mail

In this era of social media, snapchat, instagram, flash messaging, even Facebook is passe. Everyone's plugged in, turned on. Instant communications every minute of every day. But wait. How much of this grab and gone connections you never even think to ask, let alone get answers to.

Who's running for what seat and why? What are their issues? Why vote for this one instead of that one, and when is this election anyway??

Don't be someone to add to the clamor and confusion. Yes, use the tools available in social media, you'd be a fool not to and you might spark interest in potential donors, volunteers and voters.  But, do more. If possible, and the budget allows, mail is still the best way to get into every voter's home. Even if you mail, meeting voters in person and having a good-looking, bullet-pointed handout to take to people's doors and to leave whether they are home or not, is imperative.

You can't see every single voter though. Which is why you need something to leave at the door. It's a tangible reminder you're running, you care enough to knock on their door and what your issues are.

According to Campaign and Elections Magazine the shorter election time and limited spending in European elections make reliance on more digital communications a necessity. But take note, even in this recent French Presidential election, both candidates walked door to door. This is going to be a new trend.  We've been doing it for years. If your coffers are not big enough for TV ads, or much mailing, walk as much as you can, and make sure you have plenty of volunteers to help you.


And when you're walking, a good breakfast is important to keep you going all day. Here's a new/old recipe that is fast and protein filled to get you off to a good start:

CLOUD EGGS:

Thank Instagram for bringing back this old food fad: yolks surrounded in egg whites so fluffy, they resemble clouds.

Appropriately named cloud eggs, the weather-themed breakfast food has surged in popularity recently because they look so good in social media pictures. For weather geeks, it's an opportunity to enjoy a weather-themed meal, and we'll always be fine with that.
It turns out, cloud eggs aren't too difficult to prepare.

Here's what your cloud eggs should look like when they're done. 
First, separate the yolks from the egg whites and whip the whites until there's a foam, as if you're making a meringue, Framed Cooks said. That should take 2 to 3 minutes.
Then, arrange the egg whites in rounded cloud shapes on a baking sheet and form a hole in the middle. Bake the whites for three minutes, then add the yolks to the middle and bake for another 3 minutes.
Finally, scoop them onto a plate and enjoy, but be sure to get that perfect photo for Instagram first.
Cloud eggs aren't a phenomenon – an old French recipe that translates to "eggs in snow" dates back to 1651, Serious Eats culinary director Daniel Gritzer told NPR.

And if you need one more reason to try out this new method of egg preparation, the Coventry Telegraph says it's a fairly healthy option. Cloud eggs have just 160 calories and require no fat to prepare.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Election in France

Having been in France for the second round of Presidential election, and reading accounts of the two main campaigners, Le Pen of the right, and Macron of the "center," I think this about the Hillary vs. Drumpf campaign. She needed to go where he went, speak out about his lies about bringing back jobs; talk to the workers face to face; show him up for the phony blowhard he is. "No, he is not bringing back and mines, the steel industry, the manufacturing plants." He wants you for his suckers. Don't do it. I won't lie to you." It might have worked.

 

Also interesting to learn from New Yorker article: door to door campaigning a new thing in France. Macron did it, and I hear Le Pen did too. Something to watch in the Parliamentary elections in June.

 

What you eat in Paris on Election Night:

Fromages et vin

 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brexit All Over

Theresa May is feuding with EU over the terms of Brexit. They want Britain to pay what it owes. Only after the trade deal is done says Terri.

No dice say the EUY 27. Standoff.

Thursday England's elections called for the charming Tory Terri. Apparently, most of the country agrees with her, as she holds popularity in the polls, even though Brexit was a squeaker, and lots of people have said, oh that's what it means. Hmmm. But Labour is unpopular and the delightfully mis-named Lib Dems are headed up by a gay-bashing Christian wanker. What to do?

Meanwhile, across the Channel, the French prepare for their polls on the 7th. No talk over here what they might be thinking, except today's Times says Macron leads in the French polls.

everyone is afraid of the Russians, except the Russian tourists who abound in the  theatre district, where we are staying in a 6th floor walk up, because the lift keeps breaking down. No, I won't be back anytime soon to this establishment anyway.

I have heard no talk about politics in any of the pubs or restaurants, or museum cafes, or queues anywhere.

The Moliere we saw had more current political palaver than in all of London that we've witnessed. But of course, we are the American tourists, who have the Drumpf as our leader, so we have nothing to say, except don't blame us, and save yourselves!

more later.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Campaign Francais

If you've been watching the news lately, you know that things in France are heating up, campaign wise. Marine LePen, the ultra right Trumpist candidate is squaring off against the centrist (but also right-leaning from what I understand) Emmanuel Macron on May 7th in a Presidential run-off. And I will be there.

Hopefully, blogging from there. Stay tuned. It ought to be a lively battle will Europe still be Europe if Le Pen wins or even if she doesn't? Partisans are everywhere.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Going Nuclear

It's not a nuclear war, yet. But it is the "nuclear option" deployed by Mitch McConnell and the republican Senate. This means taking away the 60 % majority needed to confirm a Supreme Court justice. I'm surprised at how easy it was. Two votes, and that's it. Hello Neil Gorsuch. Goodbye Constitution. Or so it looks.

Hang in there Notorious RBG!

Being a Democrat is tough these days. Not only because of these kinds of machinations by the Republicans and worse by the Orange One. But the divisiveness among my own Party is embarrassing. Time to get over the last election. Time stop petty bickering and time to strategize. For reals. It's only a little more than a year until June 2018 and the midterm primaries when we have a crack at the entire House of Representatives. Can we not fight about how pure someone is? And just try to get some more Democrats elected? Or will we always be the circular firing squad that can't shoot straight.

At least the Republicans seem to be even crazier, but a scary dangerous kind of crazy. One that might go nuclear for real.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Thinking of Running? Start Local

Anyone thinking of running for a State or National office (Assembly, State Senate, Congress) needs to think what seats will likely be opening up in their district in the next few years. If you've never run for office before, starting with a higher office can be daunting unless you've got some experience under your belt. So start small. Think of Barbara Boxer, first a local school board activist, then a County Supervisor, next on to Congress and then U.S. Senator. She got some chops under her belt on the local level before making that big leap.

And along the way came the skills and the contacts necessary for running a major campaign. Of course, we all know stories of people who come out of nowhere and have a big upset in a congressional or Senate race. But those are the exceptions rather than the rule. A corrupt incumbent, a very disgruntled voter base and, more often than not, a candidate who's already developed connections and savvy that can be translated into a poltiical campaign.

Think Al Franken, well known comedian and on air personality, won with no political experience for U.S. Senate; or Ro Khanna in California, young entrepreneur beat a long time Democratic incumbent in the Primary, on his second try.  (And don't get me started on Donald Trump!)

For most of us, the road is longer and harder. Got an opening on a local school board or City Council? Think about going for that one. If you don't win the first time, consider running again. You will have gained a base and made contacts that will help you the next time, if they believe you are serious, hardworking and represent their values.

Consider applying for a position on a Commission or Board in your town or County. There are often openings and these help pave the way for a political run. Again, it's all about making connections, as well as having knowledge and passion, to get the job done.

And here's the best tip of all, start early. For whatever seat you are running for, get started well before the filing deadline by gathering friends and colleagues to help and make monetary pledges to the campaign. Ask others who've run for their advice. Check financial filing reports (which should all be online with your local elections office or the Secretary of State), to see how much people typically spend running for the seat you are interested in.

Do your homework, whether it's getting up to speed on the issues (attending lots of meets of the board you want to join is a must!), raising money, and just knowing how the political game is played, will put you in a good position to make a strong showing in your race.

And because you must eat, here's a brain food recipe to keep you sharp:

Spinach, Goat Cheese & Chorizo Omelette

 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Omelette
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces chorizo sausage
  • ½ Tbsp butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • sliced avocado (optional)
  • ¼ cup salsa verde (optional)
Instructions
  1. Remove chorizo from the casing and fry in a medium saute pan until fully cooked.
  2. Meanwhile beat the eggs and water in a small bowl.*
  3. Take the chorizo out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Wipe the pan of the remaining grease with a clean paper towel.
  4. Melt the butter in the same pan over low heat. Add the beaten eggs to the pan, then put the Chorizo, spinach, and crumbled goat cheese on half the egg mixture. Cook on low heat for 3 minutes until slightly firm, then fold the empty side over the side with the filling on it. Cover the pan with foil or a pot cover and leave on low heat for another few minutes until the eggs are cooked through. If your bottom is browning too quickly, turn the stove off and leave the pan covered for up to 10 minutes and the residual heat should "bake" it until the center is fully cooked.
  5. Serve with avocado slices and salsa verde. So good you won't even miss the toast or hash browns!
 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Poem for These Times

And now for a little culture:

When I Hear Trump



When Trump says “carnage” I think “martial law”

When he says “millions of illegal votes cast” I think “mass deportations”

When his spokesperson says “alternative facts” I think “propaganda, lies, Nazi Germany”

When he says “My crowd is bigger than your crowd” I think  “schoolyard bully”

When he cuts off funding for abortions for poor women I think coat hangers, back alleys, barefoot  and pregnant.

When he says “Let’s build the wall” I hear Ronald Reagan saying “Tear down that wall!”

When he says build that pipeline I see bodies lined up end to end, border to border.

When I hear people say “Let’s give him a chance” I think of frogs slowly simmering in rising water, until the time of their devouring 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women (and men) marching together

Call it a rally against the Orange scourge, or against tyranny, or misogyny or racism or for women's rights, human rights, the environment. Everyone had their own cause, and they all go together.

I wore my resistance button from 1969.
The omega for the ohm, the symbol of electrical resistance that symbolized the Resistance in those days, to the War in Vietnam, to the war at home. I did not wear a pink pussy hat. But there were plenty of those in evidence.

Here are some pictures. Were you there?




Our Marin Women's PAC group
  Share.

What to eat on a march in the rain: energy bars, chocolate with berries, nuts, and apres march? A quick stop at the pub for some pinot noir and potstickers. Yum!




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Find an Issue and Run on it

Campaigns are about issues. Not about personalities. At least most of them. Even this nasty last Presidential race. Issues. Mr. Orange hair with the foul mouth and grabby little hands won because he tapped into the core of middle America's pain. What he does with it is another question altogether.

Even on the local level, candidates and their consultants need to look for the issues that differentiate them from the competition and that tap into what the people care about. One of my first campaigns was won on the single issue of whether or not to bring a new pipeline from the Russian River in Sonoma County to Marin County (California) to increase the water supply.

My candidate was an environmentalist, a fervent one.He wanted to protect the fish upstream, whose habitat would be damaged if not decimated by removing more water. Other environmentalists agreed with him. But there's more to it than that.
Building the pipeline would be costly. Our job was to take those realities - pipeline kills fish and costs taxpayers money, and craft them into a message that both environmentalists and more conservative taxpayers could get behind.

Our opponent had all the endorsements of the establishment. She had the money. She had TV ads. She was for the pipeline.

Logically, she would have been able to leverage that support into votes and win handily. But our client had a solution to the problem, need for more water, that didn't cost a dime and didn't kill a fish - Conservation.

It turned out to be an easy sell, once people heard the message, and realized it did not involve any great sacrifice, just a few adjustments to water usage on a personal level, and stopping waste on an institutional level. Getting this message out took both good mail, attractive, dynamic (if small) postcards sent to a carefully selected universe of frequent voters, and old fashioned shoe leather and telephone calls.

The week before the election our team was calling into a very conservative part of the district. I was talking to older Republican men, when I had a revelation. I turned to the candidate and said "We're going to win!"

We won. Big. Because we had the right issue, the right message and the right delivery. How you say what you have to say and who you say it to are key.

A lesson our Democratic Party needs to learn before the next midterm election if we want to take back the Congress.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Planning to run for office in November? Start now!