FB - County Central Committee Members

By Jasmyne Cannick

Black Votes, Black Voices: The Democratic Party

There is a saying that if you want to hide something from Black people, put it in a book. Similarly, if you want to hide something from Black voters, put it on their ballot with an intentionally confusing name and don’t do anything to educate voters about the position.

Every four years, far too many voters in Los Angeles County skip down their ballot over the names of people running for an obscure position known as County Central Committee Member.

Those names are people running to be your voice and vote in the Democratic Party.

County Central Committee Member is an intentionally confusing way to say LA County Democratic Party Delegate. That’s what it should really say on our ballots, but it doesn’t, and so many people oftentimes just skip over that section of their ballot unaware of the importance of this position.

This has allowed the status-quo to control the Democratic Party for decades.
In fact, many of the people who run for these positions have held them for decades and if you think about it, the Democratic Party does very little to educate voters on the position, what it does on behalf of the voters who elected them, or to cast a wide diverse net to get new voices and views into the Party. I believe this is one of the reasons why there are very few Black people elected to County Central Committees and even fewer of us under 50.

The seemingly intentional neglect by the Democratic Party in educating voters about the importance of County Central Committee Member elections hinders the party’s commitment to true grassroots democracy. When voters remain unaware of the significance of these elections, it undermines the party’s capacity to connect with and represent the diverse voices within local communities. I’ve gotten more emails from the LA County Democratic Party about going to rallies than I have about the upcoming election and increasing voter turnout. Why is that?
Every four years 7 people are elected at-large by Democratic voters in each of LA County’s Assembly districts. Those people become Delegates in the LA County Democratic Party and get to vote on who gets the endorsement of the party and what the position of the party is on any given issue.

For example, no matter where you stand on the war between Israel and Hamas, if you are a Democrat, you know that the Democratic Party has been known to take a position on conflicts outside of the US. Well, the only people who get to decide on what that official position is, usually through a resolution, are the Delegates elected. This happens at the local, state and national levels. Being a registered Democrat doesn’t give you a vote. The Delegates vote for you, so it’s important to choose wisely. It’s important to choose Delegates whose values and views align closest with yours.

Another example is how long it took the Democratic Party Delegates to finally come out against former LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Delegates in the party, including myself, tried to get a resolution passed calling on Villanueva to resign in 2020 and it failed. It would be another two years before enough Delegates had changed their position on Villanueva to get a resolution passed. But by then, irreparable damage had already been inflicted on the community under Villanueva’s leadership and we’re still dealing with the effects of his administration.

County Central Committee Members wield a lot of power and influence over politics in Los Angeles County. It matters who is elected because they are essentially the Board of Directors for the LA County Democratic Party.

Do not skip over the candidates running for County Central Committee in your area. Research them, reach out to them. Ask them what their values are. Ask them why they don’t have a campaign website in 2024. Ask them what they have done in the 10 plus years that they have been elected to the County Central Committee and why you should send them back for another four years.

The lack of education about this critical position not only perpetuates a gap in civic knowledge, but also limits the potential for robust, bottom-up engagement in the party. The Democratic Party needs to elect Delegates who are focused on actively promoting transparency and information-sharing, ensuring that all voters have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their local party leadership and, by extension, the direction of the party as a whole. We have got to stop electing County Central Committee Members who belong to the status quo and treat the party like their own exclusive private club. They are elected by a vote of the People, your vote.

The Democratic Party’s continued tendency to take the Black vote for granted is a concerning trend that cannot be ignored. For far too long, the party has relied on the unwavering support of the Black community without adequately addressing their pressing concerns and demands. It is essential to recognize that the Black vote is not a given but a precious expression of trust in the party’s ability to represent our interests.

Just like it’s not enough for the Democratic Party to pay lip service to Black votes, it’s not enough for Black voters to just be registered Democrats. We need to have a voice and a vote inside of the Democratic Party as Delegates at the local, state, and national level.

Don’t sleep on electing County Central Committee Members.

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