Dallas, Texas — This past weekend, young Democrats from all over the country came together at the biennial Young Democrats of America (YDA) Convention in Dallas, Texas. It was a weekend to celebrate the collaborative power of the youth arm of the Democratic Party, but also unite under a banner of resistance. For New York and Washington state, that meant passing a resolution demanding the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) of the New York State Senate and the self-identified Independent Democrat in the Washington State Senate rejoin the mainline Democratic conferences to which they were elected.
Sponsored by the New York State Young Democrats (NYSYD) and the Young Democrats of Washington (YDWA), the resolution was passed in conjunction to the 2017-2019 YDA Platform which specifically calls for, “the reunification of Democratic caucuses and factions within state legislatures and localities in the United States to prevent rogue factions from denying Democrats the majority in these legislative bodies and preventing progressive legislation from being passed by these bodies.”
“I am proud of the Young Democrats of America for condemning the actions of the, ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ Democrats who actively betray our progressive values in order to gain favor and power with the Republican Party,” said NYSYD President Patrick Jordan. “YDA is one of two national organizations to condemn these breakaway Democrats, and it’s going to take working with Democrats across our great nation to ensure we unite our party and fight to stem the tide of this regressive administration.”
“The Young Democrats of Washington were happy to join the New York State Young Democrats to voice opposition to Democrats who choose individual power over representing the people that elected them,” said YDWA President LaKecia Farmer. “We have a chance this year in Washington to regain the majority in our State Legislature, and we look forward to helping New York do the same.”
Young Democrats of America, the official youth arm of the Democratic National Committee, now joins the chorus of elected officials, unions, activists, and DNC members calling on the IDC and its Washington State counterpart so progressive legislation can be sent to their respective governors’ desks for signatures.
While our President and other leaders of our nation did not provide the kind of guidance and condemnation we deserved in the aftermath of Charlottesville, the New York State Young Democrats condemns these actions wholeheartedly. We will not back down to White Nationalist, Neo-Nazis. We will not stop supporting our brothers and sisters of color, and we will NEVER stop fighting to stem to tide of racism, bigotry, and hate. We will resist.
Brooklyn Young Democrats Women’s Caucus Launch Speakers (left to right) Monique Chandler-Waterman, Latrice Walker, Christina Das, Diana Richardson, Keshia L. Adams, Steph Wheaton, Tremaine Wright, and Pamela Harris
Wednesday, July 26, 2017, marked a monumental evening for Brooklyn Young Democrats (BYD) with the official launch of their Women’s Caucus. Co-chaired by BYD’s Executive Vice President, Christina Das, and one of their newest members and community advocates, Keshia L. Adams, the caucus aims to strengthen community ties between women of Brooklyn, as well as empower more young women, with an emphasis on women of color, to run for office. Joined by eight of Brooklyn’s leading ladies, including Assemblywoman Latrice Walker of the 55th District, Caroline Piela-Cohen, Attorney & Community Advocate, Monique Chandler-Waterman, Executive Director of East Flatbush Village, and Assemblywoman Pamela Harris of the 46th District to name a few, this was an inspirational night for 60 young women of Brooklyn.
“There is a real issue when women make up over half the nation’s population, yet we hold less than one-third of elected offices,” BYD’s EVP Christina Das, a proud first generation Indian American said, “It’s a tragedy.”
In fact, in a city where women outnumber men by approximately 400,000, New York City still has a strong disparity of female to male elected officials. Sadly, only twenty-five percent of City Council members are women (13 out of 51 members), with four of them term-limited in 2017. Even with initiatives like 21 in ‘21, there is still tremendous opportunity for women to get more involved. Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright of the 56th District said, “it’s not only important to empower young women to run for office, but also build a strong community of women that will be there to support and uplift one another.”
Assemblywoman Pamela Harris of the 46th District echoed these sentiments speaking about her background as a former corrections officer and a survivor of sexual assault, “We need to advocate for women and speak up for ourselves. We need to educate ourselves on the discrimination that occurs daily, and not allow it.”
In Brooklyn particularly, a borough where the majority of small businesses are owned by women, there is an even greater divide of women-electeds holding office. Even with the increase in women running for office throughout the city, there are still far too few elected women. In fact, less than twenty-five percent of local offices are run by women, with the amount of women of color in those positions even less.
As a first generation native of Crown Heights, Brooklyn of West Indian descent, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson of the 43rd District spoke about gentrification, and emphasized the importance of women of color to put themselves out there to prevent products of gentrification from further under-representing the already marginalized. “It’s all about the rent,” she says, “and it’s vitally important that women educate themselves as renters and as homeowners in order to maintain their culture and values.”
So how can women get involved in their local politics? District Leader Tori Burhans Kelly of the 49th District encourages women to go to their District Leader and ask about how to get elected for local positions like county committee or community board. Other ways to get involved in your communities include joining a Brooklyn Democratic Club.There are seventeen clubhouses throughout Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Young Democrats that serve each community. These clubs will assist you in getting on the ballot and dial you into the issues that matter most to your community. There are also an abundance of nonprofit agencies working tirelessly to advocate and support your communities, like East Flatbush Village, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit committed to providing support and information to indigent populations.
“With so many different ways for women to get involved, now is the time to use these resources and come together as a community,” Christina Das said. “Now is the time to resist!”
With over 60 new and existing members of Brooklyn Young Democrats attending Wednesday’s event, Christina and Keshia are already channeling this momentum to propel the Women’s Caucus forward, and will be partnering with one of the night’s speakers, Amy Bettys from #GetOrganizedBK‘s Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights, and with Eleanor’s Legacy to organize a Civics and Campaign Workshop, as well as a session on Campaign Fundraising.
Check out New York State Young Democrats President Patrick Jordan, alongside Council of Presidents Chair and state committeeman John Midwood and Rural Caucus Chair Paolo Cremidis, speaking on a young democrats panel at the New York State Democrat State Committee meeting in Albany, NY on July 26, 2017 discussing the planned growth of the organization over the next 2 years.
The Executive Board of the New York State Young Democrats is proud to endorse the Young Democrats Forward Slate of candidates for the upcoming Young Democrats of America Convention in Dallas. The YD Forward candidates are strong, passionate, and experienced leaders that will continue to embolden young progressives into taking action wherever they are from. From promoting young candidates running for office, to strengthening relationships between the caucuses and their DNC counterparts for continued issue advocacy, the slate will empower state chapters with the resources and training to ensure progressive values are the future of this country. We look forward to working with them in the years to come.
The LGBTQ community in NYS is vibrant, resilient, and worth celebrating, especially in the Hudson Valley region. Last month was LGBTQ Pride Month, and across the Hudson Valley people experienced two annual pride celebrations, one in Hudson, the other in New Paltz. The recently formed Columbia County Young Democrats (CCYD) proudly marched alongside other local Democrats at the parade in Hudson. Though this was Hudson’s first parade with a Republican occupying the White House, this year’s parade did have a different feel to it.
The Democratic contingency in the parade was the largest I have ever seen. Marching with the Young Dems were the Hudson Democrats, Columbia County Democratic Committee, and the Greene County Democratic Committee as well as four of the candidates running for the congressional seat in NY-19.
The crowd in Hudson was, to say the least, happy to see us, especially us Young Democrats. We had just received our new CCYD banner and it was our first time ever having an identifiable presence at a public event. The streets of Hudson were packed, largely with Democrats of course. The entire city was ecstatic to see us.
As CCYD walked down the seven long blocks of Warren Street, we were greeted with cheers fueled by hope and excitement. Several people looked surprised, but happy to see that we even existed. This was Hudson’s first pride parade since the election, and you could tell that the City of Hudson had a heightened sense of awareness and urgency surrounding the current political climate. The way the crowd cheered on Democrats was something I have never seen before in Hudson. The residents in the parade and around the route knew that we were the leaders actively working to change the local political landscape, and for that they were grateful.
For many LGBTQ New Yorkers, the battle towards liberation and justice is just beginning. Rural LGBTQ New Yorkers, many of whom are not protected by the laws of larger neighboring cities, are even further away from full equality. Three crucial pieces of legislation have repeatedly failed to pass in the NYS Assembly and Senate. The Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would add gender identity and expression as a protected class in the state’s human rights and hate crimes laws. The Healthy Teens Act which would establish an age-appropriate sex education grant program for schools throughout NYS. And lastly, the Child-Parent Security Act, which recognizes the legitimacy of children born through assisted reproductive technology and legalizes surrogate parenting contracts. These are just a few examples to show that the fight for LGBTQ equality, even in NYS, is far from finished.
Marching in a parade may not seem revolutionary, but for the small-town communities in the Hudson Valley, it continues to be an important act of celebration. In rural NYS, LGBTQ people are in need of local political champions that will bring their voices to the table. CCYD is working tirelessly to ensure that every local office across the county is filled with progressive leaders who uplift, affirm, and fight for the LGBTQ community. It is our hope, that through the efforts of our rural young Democratic chapters, we can elect new Democrats, pass critical LGBTQ legislation in Albany, and finally have NYS model what LGBTQ justice and liberation looks like.
WHEREAS, a vacancy exists in the office of Downstate Vice President of the New York State Young Democrats;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, PATRICK JORDAN, President of the New York State Young Democrats, pursuant to Article V, Section 7 of the New York State Young Democrats Constitution, do hereby order and proclaim that an election for Downstate Vice President for the unexpired term be held on the sixteenth day of July, two thousand seventeen and that such election to be conducted in the manner prescribed by said section the New York State Young Democrats Constitution with the Presidents of the chapters of the Downstate Region of the New York State Young Democrats serving as the designated electors and that all perspective candidates shall apply no later than the Ninth day of July, two thousand seventeen.
GIVEN under my hand in the City of New York, Borough of Queens this twelfth day of June in the year two thousand seventeen.
In light of recent events the New York State Young Democrats are taking the necessary actions to remove the person from all levels of the organization. NYSYD unequivocally condemns any such heinous crimes and/or actions. NYSYD believes that those charged with these crimes are entitled to their day in court, but that those convicted should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
In light of comments of which I was made aware following convention, I want to make something perfectly clear about the board of the New York State Young Democrats: we will not tolerate any racially charged nor racially insensitive comments made by anyone who wants to be a member of this organization.
We will do anything and everything that we can do to tackle the issue of race. I will work with any chapter who asks, as well as the New York State Democratic Party, to fight this. If you have any statements on actions of individuals that were made at convention please report them to myself and any member of the board you wish to handle this. I will respond to any questions or comments as quickly as I can.
It is my belief that the diversity of this organization is one of its strongest as well as most important qualities. However, moving forward, I do want us all to have open and frank discussions and dialogues about how to address issues of race in the future of this organization.
The New York State Young Democrats (NYSYD) convened in Poughkeepsie, NY from May 5th through 7th to elect new officers, adopt rule changes, and attend trainings to learn the role and relevancy of young democrats on the local, state, and national levels under the Presidency of Donald Trump.
The newly elected Executive Board officers and caucus chairs consists of:
President: Patrick Jordan (Queens) Executive Vice President: Lauren Bailey (Albany) Treasurer: Stephanie Campanha Wheaton (Brooklyn) Secretary: Justin Westbrook-Lowery (Bronx) National Committeeman: Mohammad Alam (Manhattan) National Committeewoman: Stacey Eliuk (Queens) Legal Director: Michael Twomey (Brooklyn) Capital Region Vice President: Danielle McMullen (Rensselaer) Central Region Vice President: Brian Garcia (Broome) Hudson Valley Region Vice President: Jovan Richards (Westchester) Western Region Vice President: Heather Neu (Monroe) Chair of Council of Presidents: John Midwood (Dutchess) Caucus of Color Co-Chair: Jugba Santi (Bronx) Caucus of Color Co-Chair: Kyle Ishmael (Manhattan) Disability Issues Caucus Chair: Jim Kane (Dutchess) Jewish Caucus Chair: Brent Weitzberg (Queens) Labor Caucus Chair: Rebecca Lamorte (Manhattan) LGBT Caucus Chair: KC Hankins (Staten Island) Rural Caucus Chair: Paolo Cemedis (Chemung) Women’s Caucus Chair: Veronica Aveis (Brooklyn)
“When I decided to run for President, I wanted to have a strong team alongside me and I got exactly that,” said NYSYD President Patrick Jordan. “The team that was elected has a great diversity of skills and backgrounds. If we are going to kick out the Republicans and their allies, the work starts now with our local elections. We need to begin now to stop any brand of Trump’s politics that may arise and fight for Democratic values in our State in all 62 counties at all times.” Following the convention, in his first act as President, Jordan appointed Seamus Campbell of Brooklyn to serve as NYSYD Chief of Staff.
Young Democrats from all across New York State attended panel discussions about the role of labor unions during the Era of Trump, women in politics, and a training on how to write and develop a field plan for a successful political campaign – all vital skills as NYSYD prepares for the all-important mid-term elections next year. Speakers throughout the weekend included Assemblyman Michael Blake, former congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout, Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee Basil Smikle, and Chairwoman of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee Elisa Sumner. Additionally, NYSYD adopted changes to its Constitution to ensure accountability of the caucuses, fiscal responsibility, and clarified membership requirements.
On the second night of the convention, NYSYD held its 3rd Annual Awards Gala honoring:
Young Elected of the Year: New York State Assemblyman Michael Blake FDR Trailblazer Award: New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli Rookie of the Year: Justin Westbrook-Lowery Labor Leader of the Year: Michele Gilliam Chapter of the Year: Manhattan Young Democrats Alumni of the Year: Christopher Smith Woman of the Year: Amanda Pizzuti Man of the Year: Michael Corbett
This convention marks the last under the presidency of Mike Corbett. “Having seen all that Patrick has done in Queens and having worked with him for the past three years on the state level,” said Corbett, “I am honored to have been named Man of the Year but I am even more honored to have been succeeded by a man who has the most capable hands to lead this organization.”