The Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) central committee did not convene at all for its usually scheduled, second-Tuesday evening meeting this month. Its May 2020 meeting has been rescheduled as a teleconference which you can participate in by going here; the bare-bones agenda is here.

I am taking this time prior to assuming office in June, to understand better the structure and workings of the Democratic Party. I will share my perceptions in this newsletter and welcome all questions or corrections. Please pass it along to whomever might be interested; if you send me their email they can receive my newsletter directly in the future.

Constitution of the LACDP

Members of the LACDP are elected from within Los Angeles County’s (LAC) 22 constituent State Assembly Districts (AD). There are two additional partially-contained AD’s that caucus with LACDP. For reference, California is carved into 80 total ADs throughout the state, and 40 Senate Districts (SD); there are 53 federal Congressional Districts (CD).

Elected LACDP members are required to attend all monthly meetings, and appoint an alternate who may attend in their stead. The alternate may be recognized to speak at meetings, but will vote only in the absence of the elected member. Members conduct work within nearly 20 standing committees {Ballot Measures, Budget, Campaign Services, Candidate Interview, Credentials, Community Outreach, Election Protection & Oversight, Finance, Events, Judicial Interview, Labor, Legislative Action, Organizational Chartering & Development, Program & Education, Resolutions, Rules & Legal, Voter Registration & Development} to which LACDP members are appointed by the Chair.

There are roughly 154 LACDP members elected directly during the Spring primary of even-numbered years – 7 from each of the constituent 22 ADs, with additional representation from the two partially-contained constituent ADs. The appointed alternates double the party’s membership.  In addition each of the LACDP’s approximately 6 dozen chartered clubs and organizations­ may appoint associate members who may speak but not vote. The LACDP chair also appoints associate members. Registered Democrats in LAC who are elected to city and statewide offices are Ex-Officio members of LACDP.

From Local LACDP To State Democratic Central Committee

Each of California’s 58 counties has a county-level Democratic Party Central Committee (DCC) which is tasked by the State Democratic Party Central Committee (DSCC) with:  (i) Growing the Party locally (ii) Helping volunteers plug into election-related activities (iii) (a) Deciding the Democratic Party position on local ballot measures and (b) deciding whom the Democratic Party supports in local, non-partisan races. The DSCC is composed of approximately 3,000 members.

LACDP itself represents 2.8m Democrats. But membership in the LACDP does not automatically translate to membership in the State Party Central Committee. Both elected members and their alternates apply come the Fall for these positions at the state level, which are made by appointment of the Chair.

Note that these delegates are different from the “ADEM” delegates to the State DCC elected directly from within each AD in odd-numbered years (in contrast with LACDP members who are elected in even numbered years, via LA County primary ballot).

Ex-Officio LACDP members who are city and statewide elected officials, are automatically members of the State DCC, to which they also appoint delegates.

This video is an excellent description of the very complicated structure of the Democratic Party.

LACDP Leadership

Locally the LACDP is structured with a chair (currently Mark Gonzalez) and two gender-balanced vice-chairs; the party is careful to balance gender at all levels of appointments. There is a corresponding and recording secretary; a controller and parliamentarian. As well each constituent AD delegation has a chair and its 22 ADs are divided into 7 geographic regions, each with a regional chair. There are 20 regional directors statewide, elected at the DSCC.

What is the purpose of all this?

Ultimately this structure supports the party’s nominee for President of the United States.  The nomination occurs at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), postponed this year until August in Milwaukee, further refinements TBD as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Delegates to the DNC are selected through a parallel structure based additionally on congressional districts. They are not funneled strictly through the DSCC. The vital, allied purpose of the DNC, analogous to that of local County and State DCCs, is really the kernel of what all this is about:  setting the Party’s official policy positions for the years that stretch from one DNC to the next.

Likewise at the state level the Party DSCC convenes not just to address the business of its governance including election of statewide Party officers and regional chairs, but also, critically, to approve the Party’s state platform, resolutions and endorsements.

Up and down the line, from DNC to local Democratic Party clubs, committees convene to define the policy platforms, positions and candidates who represent the Party.  It’s a circular structure:  it is what it is. But there is a big effort structurally, at least, to ensure inclusiveness and even-handedness. Somewhere, somehow the ends may not precisely reflect the theoretical means. And perhaps the convolutions and complications of the structure are part of that disconnect?

I want to do my small part toward representing voters’ views accurately. Please be in touch to let me know yours and what you wish to see the Democratic Party advocate for moving forward. And I’m a novice at all this too, so please don’t hesitate to correct my understanding; I have no intention to mislead!

            -Sara Roos.  LACDP member-elect for AD 54.