We did it! Tina Podlodowski and Joe Pakootas have been elected to lead the Washington State Democrats

Tina Podlodowski speaking at the Maggies

On January 28th, 2017, Tina Podlodowski and Joe Pakootas were elected to lead the Washington State Democratic Party as Chair and Vice Chair. Read the victory press release

Archived content follows.

With Democratic Party reorganizations happening all around Washington State, our party needs to take a hard and unflinching look at the past election cycles, reconcile, and come to a place of forgiveness – by everyone – for opportunities lost in the past. Unless we can do that, we can’t trust each other, and will never be able to rebuild the party in the way that Washingtonians and America needs us to.

No matter if you “Felt the Bern” or “Stood with Her” it’s a new day. We have to make a new way here in Washington too. There has to be room for those new to the party and those who are lifelong Democrats to come together. Together, we can do this, and make progressive change a reality.

Under the current party chair, we have not had control of the State Senate since the creation of the “Roadkill Caucus” in 2010, and the defections of both Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon in 2012. Our majority in the House has dwindled from a comfortable double-digit lead to one that is razor-thin and easily lost.

And we did not secure that House margin at all in this past election – in fact, there were seven legislative races where we allowed Republicans to simply run unopposed. In county races, Democrats lost seats in Western Washington counties we should have been expected to win – Pierce, Thurston, Snohomish and Grays Harbor.

We were all but shut out east of the Cascade Mountains. In Pierce County, we lost the county-executive position for the first time in 16 years, and lost three of the four available seats on the county council. Counties like Grays Harbor, Pacific, Mason and Cowlitz – that haven’t voted GOP in a presidential race in decades – went to Donald Trump.

We did not do enough to support candidates, fundraise, train and support our volunteers, and both engage and gain the trust and support of voters to win.

Tina speaking at a special nominating caucus of the Pierce County Democrats
Tina speaking at a special nominating caucus of the King County Democrats, during a break in the proceedings

Right now, the GOP is attacking the rights and safety of people of color, Native Americans, immigrants, women, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community – we must vigorously and openly stand up for the people that we claim to represent without hesitation.

Working people face a devastating economic threat from Donald Trump and his Republican allies in our state. Our party must stand up for them, represent them, and include them. We can’t do that if we keep losing these critical state and local elections.

We must change, and change requires leading with our Democratic values, and finding new leadership in a new party chair and vice chair to accomplish it.

Our next party chair and vice chair must believe in the real sharing (not consolidation) of power. S/he/they must put the needs of others first, be accountable, foster transparency, and help our volunteers, candidates and staff develop and perform as highly as possible for the betterment of our state.

We need State Party leadership committed to simplifying our processes and procedures so that we are inclusive, rather than restrictive. The current party chair has been “in charge” – as executive director or party chair – for over a decade. We need new State Party leadership that reflects progressive values, and has the managerial, electoral, fundraising, and leadership experience to revitalize our party.

New leadership must be able to perform a thorough assessment of the true and accurate condition of our party, no matter how uncomfortable that might be. This must be accomplished during their first 90- 120 days in office with the input and help of the newly elected state central committee, and result in the plan that charts our paths forward together over the next several election cycles statewide. This plan should be presented, discussed, and approved at the April 2017 meeting of the state central committee.

Joe Pakootas at state party meeting
Joe Pakootas speaking at a meeting of the Washington State Democratic Central Committee

This goes far beyond a “listening tour” to a robust and unflinching look at our voter registration, voter turnout, candidate recruitment, candidate support and overall election results in the last few cycles; includes a serious “audit” of party assets that includes volunteer recruitment, engagement and support, communication, diversity, technology, offices, and staffing; how and where we have raised and spent our money; how have our elected officials voted our platform and supported the party; and how we have measured both our failures and our success.

Finally, we must ultimately clarify and communicate our values as democrats – and make those values relevant to the lives of voters in Washington State and show what we as Democrats stand FOR, on every issue and in every election.

The Washington State Democratic Central Committee chooses its chair and vice chair at the January 28, 2017 meeting in Olympia, Washington. The state central committee is comprised of 176 members – a male and a female state central committee member from each of the 39 counties, and a male and female member from each of the 49 legislative districts. By state law, candidates for chair and vice chair need to be “gender opposites”. By tradition, the chair and vice chair come from different parts of the state.

Tina Podlodowski and Joe Pakootas are running as a “ticket” for new leadership, would be honored to have your help and support and vote to win election on January 28th in Olympia at the state central committee meeting.