Withdrew candidacy: 12.05.14
Janet M. Carson
President, Ohio Democratic County Chair’s Association
Chair, Geauga County Democratic Party
Vice Chair, Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus – Candidate Recruitment
8860 Apple Hill
Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44023
Ph. 440-543-4060 Email: Janet@insurancediversified.com
Overview: Setting the Future for the Ohio Democratic Party
The outcome of the 2014 General Election and the abysmal turnout by Democratic voters is a chilling reminder that we need real change. The Party we built in 2006 showed us what is achievable. Unfortunately, our Party has experienced a gradual decline of power since then.
Our opponents and their well-funded special interest groups have been controlling the conversation and implementing plans to secure their control of the state for years to come. We owe it to the millions of Ohio families, seniors and workers, whose voices will never be heard in this current environment, to take a hard look at ourselves. We must find our voice, correct our path and develop a message that makes it possible to secure the future of our great state.
Now is the time for the Party to show leadership and maturity. We need to recognize the November election results as a unique opportunity to fix what is wrong and strengthen what works.
This is our opportunity to create a stronger, more powerful and more effective party. We must seize this moment with shared goals and a common vision. This is our chance to create lasting partnerships between party leaders, elected officials, volunteers and Democratic voters – to chart a new era for the party – and a new future for the State of Ohio.
Democrats across the state look to leadership that represents them and understands the challenges Ohio families face. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to work along-side and for, our Democratic family – our county chairs, activists and candidates. We know voters align with the party they believe represents their values and we know we can reengage our Democratic voters with commitment, engagement and responsibility.
We need both a short term and a long term plan. Every party chair, every Executive Committee member, every ODP staffer and officer should know our plan and be able to articulate it. We need to know why we are Democrats and be proud to say it.
How we do it
- Define the Opportunity
- Strengthen our finances
- Embrace new policy objectives
- Expand Partnerships
- Enhance our communications/messaging
- Improve how we work
Define the opportunity
Our Party’s next Chair must have the vision, political acumen, fundraising, structural understanding, communications and leadership skills to move this party forward. The new Chair’s ability to listen and be open to the input of members of every level of the party will be essential if we hope to develop an effective plan for our party’s future. This will require the chair have the courage and skills to table their own personal goals and preconceived notions and objectively listen to all members of our party and then effectively incorporate that information into action. This is our opportunity to expand Party participation to create a stronger, more powerful and more effective organization. Now is the time to determine the direction the Party will take. We cannot be a top down organization only. We must truly involve our core constituencies in a meaningful way, demonstrating we understand that our base works with, not for – our Democratic family.
Strengthen our finances
We will need to lead the charge, manage a professional finance staff and meet with the key statewide and national contributors that will provide the resources to fuel our party as it reinvents itself and through 2025. We need an experienced and recognized Finance Chair who can focus the necessary efforts to raise the funds we need to win. I have the commitment of Senator Brown’s 2012 Finance Chair, an experienced successful fundraiser, to work with me to raise the millions of dollars necessary to grow our Party. Additionally, we cannot ignore the everyday donors that are the lifeblood of our family. We must win their hearts and minds and we will gain their donations and their voices.
Embrace core policy objectives
We need to build upon what makes us Democrats. When we embrace our core policies and control the conversation, Democratic candidates win – and when we set the policy the people of Ohio win. Our policy objectives and the political “conversations” that take place locally and statewide must become one. We need to build and expand our messaging so it resonates with voters, speaking so it is received by our diverse constituencies in a way that relates to them. We need to communicate with our base in person in addition to electronically, so our message is heard and not dismissed.
We need to look beyond the Columbus “beltway” and broaden our stakeholder base. Labor is a close ally and their support is vital, but we have grown too comfortable with the status quo. There are too many organizations, from which we expect support rather than earning it. We must start to change this course by identifying and expanding key constituencies and forging allied partnerships with each. Looking both locally and statewide, we can build a segmented plan that identifies each group/constituency’s needs and ways we can empower them and ultimately drive Democratic messages and votes.
Improve how we work
We cannot move forward without a full understanding of how we arrived at where we are today. It is time for us to discard things that impede our ability to grow the party, so that we can begin to reinvent. We must work in all the regions of our State, establishing 4 to 7 regional offices in key county party headquarters reestablishing relationships and rebuilding our grassroots structure. With this in mind, here are few key steps from my plan to improve how our party operates and serve as a starting point to begin the discussion that will build the framework to move our party forward.
Collaboration. This is our party, not his or her party. In order to grow, we must recognize that our strength comes from working together. Respecting all members of our Democratic family and recognizing their contributions to our success.
Farm Team. Without good candidates we have nothing. It is the responsibility of every party leader to actively mentor, groom and recruit candidates not only or local office, but with a mind towards higher office. We must use our elected officials as mentors and bring back our Elected Officials Committee.
We’ve made a start with the “Gen X” project, but I’d designate a Vice Chair who would be responsible to grow and expand our candidate recruitment and development.
Young & College Dems. The ineffectiveness of our state party has directly impacted our young and college Dem programs. If we hope to be successful we need to make them a priority and give them a real voice in our organization. We must have a continuing structure that doesn’t end with the graduating class. We must work to bring back the position of Executive Director for the Young and College Dems.
Embrace Our Diversity. If we truly are the party of the people we need to do a better job recognizing and supporting the diversity of voters across the state. Saying we do, then doing little or nothing to support all of our party isn’t enough. We must increase representation on our Executive Committee and honor our commitments through actions.
Strengthen and Expand our County Party Structure. Our county parties are the core of our State Party. Training, funding, empowering and respecting our county organizations will ensure we win across Ohio. Squeezing every Democratic vote out of every region of the State not only helps us elect more Democrats statewide, but also grows and expands our party structure and inspires our Democrats. We must do more regionally so we inspire and energize county parties and their Democrats.
Focus on Redistricting. Until we fix the unfair, unrepresentative way our districts are drawn, we will never have appropriate representation. There are several paths to a solution and we must find the right one and make it a Party priority sooner rather than later.