Elected DNC Chair on Saturday, February 25, 2017, Tom Perez is a proven leader who has spent his life delivering progressive change for working families.
The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Tom grew up in Buffalo where he learned the values of a union town: hard work, integrity, service, and perseverance.
After putting himself through college with Pell Grants and working on the back of a garbage truck, Tom passed up offers from white-shoe law firms, instead choosing to start his career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Justice Department prosecuting racially motivated hate crimes.
For the past 8 years, Tom had the privilege of serving in President Obama’s administration. First as head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, where he led the charge against police misconduct, voter suppression, anti-LGBT discrimination, and immigrant-bashing sheriffs’ departments. Then as Secretary of Labor, fighting to protect and expand opportunities for America’s working people – from better wages and overtime pay, to retirement security and collective bargaining rights.
But Tom’s strongest roots are in local organizing. In 2002, he became the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council. And as board president of CASA de Maryland, Tom helped grow the organization from a small service provider in the basement of a church to one of the largest immigrant advocacy groups in the mid-Atlantic.
Tom has never hesitated to take on a fight. He’s stood up for our progressive values his entire career, from his time on the Montgomery County Council to his years leading the U.S. Department of Labor. And as DNC Chair, Tom will continue to get things done. He’ll make the DNC an all-day, every day, year-round organization to support our state parties, reach out to voters in every zip code and grow our party from the grassroots up.
Years before the housing crisis, Tom introduced and passed a bill to combat predatory lending and housing discrimination, a bill the Bush administration opposed.
Tom took over a Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division that had been ‘decimated’ by the Bush administration and turned it around.
While Tom led the Civil Rights Division, it set a record for opening investigations into sheriff and police department conduct.
Tom challenged discriminatory voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, laws which unjustly targeted minority voters.
Tom went after the big banks for racial discrimination and foreclosing on active-duty service members and got the largest fair-lending housing settlements ever.
Tom sued Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio for discriminating against Latinos.
And, Tom worked with his DOJ colleagues to challenge Arizona’s discriminatory immigration law, SB 1070, all the way to the Supreme Court. He did the same with Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56.
At Labor, Tom led a complex organization with over 17,000 employees, a multi-billion dollar budget and a presence in every state and three territories.
Tom led on leave and expanded paid sick leave so workers don’t have to choose between the jobs they need and the families they love.
And, Tom made sure Americans with disabilities are integrated into communities with the access they need.
Tom issued a new rule to protect workers across industries like construction and manufacturing from being exposed to dangerous levels of harmful silica dust, known to cause disease and cancer.
He raised the minimum wage and extended overtime protections for home health care workers, impacting nearly 2 million workers.
Tom played a key role in ensuring companies with federal contracts pay their contract workers a minimum wage and provide paid sick leave.
And, Tom stood up for workers, issuing a rule requiring companies to disclose how much they spend combating union organizing efforts.
This is a ‘where were you?’ moment. We’re in a battle for the heart and soul of this nation. Tom ran for chair because he thinks this country’s promise of opportunity and inclusion is a reality for everyone. Now more than ever, he believes we need a chair who embraces the future of our party, inspires people, grows our broad tent and speaks to the concerns of our voters.
At the end of the day, the DNC is one of the best and biggest platforms for advancing social, economic and racial justice. And we need it to be the strongest it can be. Because now isn’t the time to fret. It’s the time to fight.
Fight for our values
Standing up for what we believe – from protecting civil rights to creating a level playing field for all Americans – is a critical part of who we are as progressives and as Democrats. And in this divisive time, we have to unify our party, speak with a loud, clear voice and be heard.
Advocate in every zip code
No matter where anyone lives, every American should hear our message of inclusion and opportunity. It’s not enough to shout at people from Washington DC or try to re-engage only when election season rolls around. We need to be listening and talking to voters – from rural communities and urban, on the coasts and in the middle of the country – year-round, with state parties driving the conversation – and we also need to make sure we’re finding candidates who will stand up for our values and the needs of our communities.
Organize for opportunity
Democrats win when we tell voters who we are, what we value and communicate our message in every community we can. We can’t do that without the best progressive organizers in America. The DNC will build an increased grassroots effort to speak directly with voters in every community, from rural to urban.
Share what works
Our state parties are on the front lines of finding the best candidates for office, reaching out to voters and delivering our message of inclusion and opportunity for all Americans. This comes with challenges on all levels. But while many states have found answers to what works best, those solutions too often stay in one state.
Ensuring a fair process
A fair, transparent, neutral DNC supports our values of inclusion and opportunity. The DNC’s role is to ensure those values are unassailable in the presidential nominating process, from the beginning to the end.
Using data to drive our message
Democrats win when we talk about who we are and what we believe. As voters become less attached to institutions and parties, showing Americans how much our values overlap with theirs and the positive impact a Democratic vote can make on our shared vision for the country becomes even more important. But we need to deliver that message effectively, using and building the right data and tools make sure our efforts are impactful.
Advancing our cybersecurity
Our communications, strategies and data are an essential part of determining how we move America forward. With challenges to security information constantly evolving, keeping it safe must be a priority.
Building effective, enduring partnerships
Right now, it’s more important than ever for our progressive party to come together around a coordinated strategy. We cannot operate in silos we need to act as one. Our collective focus must be on building the most effective, unifying DNC to fight for our values an elect Democrats at all levels who will stand up for what’s right.