Welcome Margaret Johnson

Polk County Democratic Party Chair Margaret Johnson will be with us for an hour starting at noon.

Here's the profile and the previous thread of questions.

In the last two election cycles, Margaret has led Polk County from red to purplish-blue. Through extensive strategic planning which has led to community action, the Polk County Democratic Party has become proud of what they stand for and inspired Republicans to say, "I may not agree with your politics but I sure like what you're doing."

Please post any questions as a comment below.

Comments

Hi there, Margaret

and welcome. Thanks for all you're doing . . . and thanks for visiting BlueNC today. I really enjoyed your interviews with DQ.

Here's my question: When are you running for a seat in the General Assembly?

Thanks for the warm welcome

I do want to say that I have enjoyed the site for quite some time and think y'all are doing great work.

I consider myself an organizer and really don't know that I'll be running for office, at least any time soon, because I have a young one.

Fair enough

though from what I can see, the folks in Raleigh could use some "organizing" right about now.

:)

Thank you, Margaret

The work that Cubby, Sam and Dan did for the Kissell campaign really provided a great framework. The problem is getting someone on the executive committee to go along. We'll see how elections go in April and then maybe we'll know how things will proceed. The good news is David Erdman is running for Chair and I really like Erdman. I think he will be open to a real GOTV strategy.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Hi Margaret, thanks so much for agreeing to this weirdness!

First I'm going to cut and paste Southern Dem's question (from New YAWK City) She asks:

Mecklenburg county has no plan for GOTV. This last cycle it consisted of picking up homeless people to take them out to canvass without regard to their personal appearance. Thousands of dollars was spent doing this. If there was only one thing she would suggest Meck start to make GOTV more effective, what would that one thing be?

 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Get someone who will take responsibility for it

And then you have to break it down into manageable chunks. And then get all the training you can that's out there -- from the state party's regional political directors and the many other groups that are out there.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but as I said it's critical to have one person who takes on the responsibility.

I have a feeling...

that one person is being shut out by people who don't want to give up power. Enough about Meck, they're screwy.
One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Appeal

I'm wondering whether the organization, GOTV, candidate recruiting has been easier if you talk about "moving to the middle" or if you energize the base by talking pure Democratic Party ideals.
Thanks for coming.
One man with courage makes a majority.
- Andrew Jackson

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Neither

In our community, it's really not about moving to the middle.

We have voices from all across the spectrum, so what we try to do to keep people engaged is let each of them have some kind of voice and teach people the process of being respectful of different voices.

Finding common activities makes the different ideologies less important. The ideological spectrum doesn't matter when you're trying to walk the talk of being a Democrat.

cheater

done stole my question

Draft Brad Miller -- NC Sen ActBlue :::Petition

"Keep the Faith"

Here's a question from Leslie H

Submitted by Leslie H on Mon, 04/02/2007 - 1:47pm.

1) Do your precincts have regular meetings outside the required annual one? If so, what are the meetings like? (i.e. -- what are they focused on; organization, local political activity, social networking?) And, what sort of things do your precinct chairs and vice-chairs do to bring busy folks out to meetings?
2) Does the Polk County Party use any web-based tools for communicating with members?

 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

You're right, it all starts with precinct organization

Some of our precincts meet as often as monthly.

We try to have them in comfortable environments, like someone's home or a coffee house and we always try to have refreshments for people who are coming straight from work.

The first item is letting people get to know each other and asking why they want to be involved. It really motivates people if they get a chance to tell their story (like Drama Queen has done to me here).

On the second question, using web-based tools has been one of our biggest recent improvements. We took advantage of the state party's web consortium and we also have one person who coordinates e-mail communications.

On our website, we constantly update photos, and that is a real plus.

Margaret

Thank you so much for coming and 'writing' with us. This is go solid simple advice. I like simple. ;)

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

This question is from our dear friend, momoaizo

As a new precinct vice chair

Submitted by momoaizo on Sun, 04/01/2007 - 10:00pm.
in a very rural part of the county, what are some things she can suggest I do to start organizing my precinct and getting the dem support we need?
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

It's good to recognize rural challenges

Try to target a Democrat in your precinct who is well respected. Work on them to have some kind of social event in their home, even if it's just having hot dogs or lemonade and cookies. People like to come to other people's homes and they feel freer to talk.

Sometimes we've had only two or three people in one of these meet-ups, but that is a start and the next time you'll have six.

Developing personal relationships in a rural area is sometimes difficult, but that's the key.

From lcloud about strategic planning

Submitted by lcloud on Sun, 04/01/2007 - 10:15pm.
Our strategic planning process has been non-existent. What steps did you take to unify your party and get strategic planning on track?

 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Strategic planning does get the ball rolling

We started with Jerry Meek's Strategic Planning Guide for County Parties, which you can now get from your regional political director.

The way to get people there is to put a snappy article or ad in the paper and by personal telephone calls. Make it very clear that ANY topic will be acceptable for discussion at the first meeting.

The person who facilitates the process needs to be someone who can help the group stay focused, but who is also very inclusive and welcoming.

Another request for you to consider becoming a candidate

Submitted by nctodc on Mon, 04/02/2007 - 1:48pm.

First and foremost, thanks to Margaret for participating.

In my opinion, one of the best takeaways from the Democratic Party's success in 2006 was the increased emphasis on recruitment--I think Heath Shuler's win is evidence of that. While talk of candidate recruitment is often limited to Congressional or statewide races, I'm interested in hearing what Party chairs have to say about recruitment of candidates for the legislative races.

Are there any Democrats in Polk County who might take up our cause and run against Tom Apodaca or Trudi Walend in 2008? Would you consider running in the future or is your focus solely on building a Party apparatus?

 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Even in little Polk County we're developing bench strength

We have two or three people in their 30's and 40's who may be good candidates and we're really trying to get them involved in the Party to see how we work, so if they want to be a candidate they will understand the Party organization.

I'm much more encouraged about our candidate possibilities than I was four to six years ago. We will be doing our best to get these General Assembly seats challenged.

You're avoiding the question, Margaret

If women like you don't run, where are we going to find the wonderful women who will? I mean, I know Jake is young but not for long . . . You are just the kind of candidate that people are starving for. Pretend Jake's in college and I've actually got money to support your campaign. Would you run. And if not, why?
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Under those circumstances . . .

I would certainly give it serious consideration. I do believe that sometimes if you want something done you have to be willing to step up to the plate and do it yourself.

For the time being I feel that I'm making the biggest difference for our Party by doing exactly what I'm doing.

How can we work better with our legislators?

Margaret, as you know we've improved greatly in Western North Carolina our ability to get Democrats elected (to Congress and to the General Assembly and to county positions).

I've heard Democratic party leaders express, however, that candidates who are registered Democrats, who win their races and become legislators, then seem totally disconnected from the Party -- socially and sometimes ideologically.

How can we work to create an organization where our candidates (and legislators) feel a real part of what we're all trying to accomplish?

Hi Mark! Well, it's a two-way street

We have to stay engaged with what they're doing, like attending meetings and hearings, keeping in contact with them on issues, and then reminding them that we expect them to participate in our Party activities.

All of this boils down to letting our elected officials know what our expectations are. But then we have to remain engaged with them in their work, too.

An example for us in Polk County is that we have to attend Commissioner meetings, be there in the audience, make supportive comments, write letters to the editor supporting them, and tell them we expect them to be at our meetings.

Where are you folks in terms of action teams?

From time to time, we're trying to influence the legislature, and need people making calls and sending emails. Do you have the capacity in your area to be a catalyst for that kind of action?

Well, thank you soooo much, Margaret

I know you were a little reluctant. But we were gentle, weren't we?

I so much appreciate your being willing to take our questions. I appreciate your time. And, most of all, I appreciate what you are doing every day. There you are on the front lines, making the phone calls, begging for help, filling in when people don't show up, making sure the heat is on, the bills are paid, that everyone feels welcome. That's hard work (that I don't want to do!) And I appreciate that you do it.

And thanks to everyone who asked questions or participated in any way. This was kinda scary, kinda fun!

SD, next time you rope me into something, you are not allowed to traipse off to New York!

 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Ditto from me.

It takes a certain bravery to jump into the fray like this, Margaret. Thank you so much for making the time and having the commitment to share your ideas with us.

Sorry I missed this live

Thank you DQ for bringing my question. It was still a pleasure reading the whole conversation. I hope you join in the regular conversations here Margaret, your advice and thoughts are right on the mark. Thanks for doing this, all of you.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Thanks from me, too, DQ

That was a very useful answer to my question ... all her answers and comments were.

I always know when I'm talking to a real expert. The simpler a person can make an answer, the more deeply and completely they understand the subject matter -- and I think that goes for everything from Greek philosophy to genetics to precinct based politics. This thread will be something I come back to a lot.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

You are all quite welcome

She was great, wasn't she? And it was SD's idea and my pleasure.

(Your questions were pretty good, too, I think.)
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Bwahahahahahahahahaha

My idea? I love that you keep giving me credit, but you really need to take all the credit for this. Your work on this entire project is building a very strong foundation for reporting on women in politics in this state. I love that you are shining a light on women who typically are in the shadows since they aren't elected officials. People need to know where the important work is being done.

You, my dear, are awesome. Simply awesome.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I'll send you a check . . .

SD, it's hardly work, you know. It's a total pleasure. I just don't have enough hours in the day to do as many interviews as I'd like. (And important interruptions like the mental health debacle and that Progress Energy fiasco don't help me clear my backlog of videos.)

It's so inspiring. The women seem to blossom as I question them. And I know everyone who sees these videos can't help but be impressed. I also think of younger women, even your girls, watching these. I'm hoping we're inspiring the candidates and public officials of our future. (Instead of the Liddy Doles and the Sue Myricks!)

Did you see that stat at Huffington about women of the Y generation being much more likely to vote for women but even less likely than older women to run for office?

And, you're right that most of my subjects have stayed somewhat in the shadows, particularly compared to men of similar experience and expertise. So, here's to BlueNC WOW making a real difference in the "feminization" of NC politics.
 
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

I Didn't See It, but I Believe It

women of the Y generation being much more likely to vote for women but even less likely than older women to run for office?

I'm not 'Y' but I decided not to get involved too deeply because of all the ugly things that go along with being in politics. You know, little things like having your integrity questioned, being called names, having people lie about you, distorting what you've said, erm...maybe calling you a 'ho'. Who needs it?

Maybe if we can take our civil discourse back to being about 'issues' instead of smear campaigns, more young people and women in particular will become interested. JMO.

Maybe you can do a follow up with Margaret and ask her how to counter nastiness in campaigns. Of course, I put the onus on the media for being ready to run the smears but not so willing to run retractions and apologies. YMMV