Tarrant TX Uncategorized

Senate District Conventions – EyeWitness Report From A New Democratic Activist

Credentials for the SD ConventionOne important activity for the involved Democrat is to participate in political conventions.  Today was the date of the 2012 Democratic County/Senatorial District conventions in Texas.  This was my first time as an attendee at a political convention, so I thought I’d provide a view from the ‘new guy’ for any other new activists who are just now getting involved.

In rural counties, where the entire county is contained within one state Senatorial district, this local convention is a County Convention.  However, in large urban counties such as Tarrant County – where I live – that include pieces of several Texas Senate districts, Senate District conventions are held instead.

After redistricting, Tarrant includes pieces of Texas SD 9, SD 10, SD 12 and SD 22; and all four Senatorial districts were represented at the county level convention today at Trimble Tech High School in South Fort Worth.

Usually the delegates for these conventions are determined at the individual precinct conventions that normally occur earlier in an election cycle.  However, due to redistricting these did not happen this year, and SD Convention Delegate slots were open to all registered voters who live in Tarrant County and that were willing to take an oath of affiliation to the Democratic Party.

The first action delegates-to-be took upon arrival was to register with the friendly volunteers and get their official credentials for proceedings – mine are pictured. They then had the chance to mingle with various Democratic candidates, collect campaign swag from their campaign staffs, and also to meet representatives from several of the Democratic groups with a presence in Tarrant County.

Cardboard President Obama And MeI personally took the time to have my photo taken with a cardboard version of President Obama – unfortunately he had other commitments today, and was unable to make it in person to the Tarrant County conventions:)

At a little after 10:00 am everyone made their way to the High School Auditorium for the beginning of official business.  First was a display by the local color guard, a lovely rendition of the national anthem, and a recitation of the pledge of allegiance.

Following this the Tarrant County Chairman for the Democratic Party, Stephen Maxwell, welcomed us all warmly.   He was lavish with his praise for all the work done by the volunteers – and the local High School administration for Trimble Tech – in getting the convention up and running. I was a first time attendee at this type of event, and I do have to say it was very well organized.  Kudos to all involved, I am sure a lot of work went into putting all the pieces together!

After Mr. Maxwell completed his kick off speech, all the Democratic candidates present got a brief chance to address the collected delegates – at this stage all four Senatorial Districts were still seated together.  Surprisingly they all kept to the assigned script (say your name and what you are running for), it may have been the threat of the presence of a trapdoor beneath them on the stage that kept them short and sweet…

The Keynote speaker was the sitting Texas State Senator for District 10, Wendy Davis.  She is a very effective speaker, and received quite a few standing ovations and much applause.  Ms. Davis gave quite a stirring speech outlining her accomplishments since coming to office, and emphasizing to us all the importance of helping out the campaigns of all our Democratic candidates.  Hopefully this will motivate all of us – not just precinct chairs – to help out campaigns with block walks, phone banks, donations, and the like.

Next on the agenda for the day were the individual Senatorial District conventions.  The mass of delegates left the auditorium, and headed to the appropriate room for their individual Senate District.  The delegate credentials were color coded by SD number, which made it easy to tell who belonged where.  If you found yourself wondering where to you go you could just follow someone wearing a badge the same color as yours.

At the convention which I attended, there was a little delay at the start.  There are rules that must be followed as to how these events are ran, and apparently one of the first things that should occur is for the list of delegates to arrive and be approved before voting on any issues of importance could occur.

Unfortunately this list of delegate credentials was a little late in arriving. I got the impression that they had extended the registration deadline a little to allow latecomers a chance to check in, but not being in the thick of things I’m not entirely sure.

While waiting for this paperwork to arrive some business was conducted however.  A lot of time was used up by candidates dropping by to speak to our Senate District people specifically.  They got to speak a few minutes to us, which was quite a bit longer than they had earlier in the day.  We probably heard from 8 or 10 candidates before the proceedings were adjourned.

Once the candidate list finally arrived things really got under way.  Because of the redistricting delays, many of the rules of the convention were altered to cater to the reality of the 2012 election cycle.  There was a reading of the revised rules – as agreed upon by the Rules Committee. There was also voting for a permanent Convention Chair and permanent Secretary who would actually run the convention.

Everyone who wished to be a delegate to the Texas Democratic State Convention in Houston in June from our Senate District was easily found a slot in our roster.  This made life easy for the SD Nominations Committee for 2012, as they did not have to determine who would get to go!  This very important – arguably the most important – piece of business was thus completed quickly without a hitch.  Another potential complication, apportioning delegates according to their presidential preference, was also no issue since everyone was backing Obama.  This made things a lot simpler in 2012 than during the contested Obama/Clinton convention back in 2008 I am sure.

The Resolutions Committee went off into the corner with over a dozen resolutions to review.  They were busy for quite some time before coming up with a slate of resolutions they were in favor of, and a couple they were not.

After some discussion, a motion was passed to vote for the favorable slate as a whole.  This motion passed, and the resolutions were passed.  My understanding is that they will now go to the State Convention and be considered again there at higher level in the party – I will admit I’m a little fuzzy on that.

That was the last official activity for the day, and thus the SD convention was adjourned.  I found it a very educational and rewarding experience to be involved in our political process at this level, and met many nice people whom I hope to see again in Houston for the Democratic State Convention – which I will be attending as part of the official Tarrant County Delegation for my Senate District!




Political Parties Uncategorized

The Responsibilities Of A Precinct Chair

Once you have been elected – or appointed – as a precinct chair, there are several different privileges and responsibilities that you gain and should attempt to fulfill. In the next few posts I will provide detailed information on each of these, but to start with I will briefly list them.

Precinct Chair Responsibilities

Seek Out Training Opportunities

Many of the tasks a good precinct chair should perform may seem rather intimidating at first.  A lot of them can involve a fair amount of interaction with strangers, which can be a little nerve wracking if you have not done a lot of community work before. If you do not know exactly what it is you are supposed to do, it can be even worse!  Thankfully training is available to help you get a handle on these tasks – remember that the State and County party desperately wants you to be as successful as possible, and are there to help.

Serve On Your County’s’ Democratic Committee

Each county in the United States hosts a county committee that is the official local branch of the state and national parties. In Texas this is called the County Executive Committee (CEC), although it may have a different name where you live.  As precinct chair you are a voting member of this committee and it is both your privilege and duty to attend meetings of this committee to discuss and vote on business of important to the county party.

Organize Your Precinct

As precinct chair, you are the organizer in chief of the party in your precinct boundaries.  Active precinct chairs will seek out volunteers (more on this in later posts) to help them with get out the vote efforts both before and during the election cycle.   Having a pool of engaged volunteers can also allow you to improve the strength of the party county wide by organizing gatherings of likeminded folks.

Get Out The Vote (GOTV)

This is very important.  Ideally all precinct chairs will do this, but it does take some effort and time which not everyone does have.  Organizing phone banks to your local democratically inclined voters, arranging block walks, and offering drives to voters who cannot get to the polls unassisted.  These are just a few examples of get out the vote activities precinct chairs can get involved in.

Be A Local Resource

Sometimes voters simply want to know more about what is going on in the political arena.  As a precinct chair odds are you will be keeping fairly well informed about the policy positions of your local candidates, and about issues that are important to the local community.  If you can answer the questions of your local precincts voters in helpful manner, voters are likely to remember that friendly Democratic Party official come election day.


I think that summarizes the main duties of a Precinct Chair.  If anyone thinks I’ve missed any feel free to comment below or contact me.  Over the next few posts I will expand on each of the responsibilities above in greater depth!