We didn’t mourn. We organized.
Highlights from a year of organizing in Washington County.
2017 was challenging from a national standpoint. However, at the local level, we as Democrats and as concerned citizens have made a difference in our communities. Join us in reflecting on the gains that the Washington County Democrats have made this year!
Feet on the Street!
We were actively involved in flipping the Hillsboro School Board from a 4-3 GOP majority to a 6-1 progressive majority, ushering in new Board Members Martin Granum, Erika Lopez, Jaci Spross, and Mark Watson to join Democratic incumbents Lisa Allen and Kim Strelchun. Additionally, we helped to elect two progressive women, Felicita Monteblanco & Holly Thompson, to serve as board members with the Tualatin Hills Parks & Recreation District. This past fall, we got the word out with our organization strength to pass the Hillsboro School Bond.
We started 2017 by attending as many marches, rallies, and parades we could! Our Washington County Democratic contingent was at the Portland’s Women’s March, marching in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of others to amplify the intersectional voices of the feminist movement and eclipsed Trump’s Inauguration.
We showed our support for evidence-based scientific research by attending the March for Science and congregated downtown at the March 4 Truth Rally, which was organized by one our Precinct Committee Persons, Lisa Stiller. You may have also seen us at the annual Hillsboro 4th of July Parade, this time with Senator Jeff Merkley and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, or at the Washington County Fair talking politics and registering our fellow residents to vote. We trekked over to Multnomah Days in Multnomah Village with the House District 35 Democrats and passed out leaflets about voting for Measure 101 at the Sherwood Holiday parade with Indivisible Sherwood & Our Revolution Sherwood.
Building Grassroots Capacity
We have seen dramatic growth in the number of voters who have signed up to become Precinct Committee Persons (PCPs). Subsequently, our Training Committee provided a series of training sessions for those interested in grassroots organizing, like our bi-monthly
introduction on getting involved at the county level (WashCo Dems 101), training sessions on public speaking (Speaking up for the Reticent), and seminars on parliamentary procedures to encourage more active participation at meetings. To facilitate participation for working families who have limited free time, members have also approved a new procedure to make the process of becoming an appointed Precinct Committee Person easier.
Since the beginning of 2017, we've recruited 250 new Neighborhood Leaders, bringing our total to 750 members who want to start make meaningful connections with their Democratic neighbors! Neighborhood Leaders has been adopted by the State Party as a model for all 36 Oregon counties to use and make Oregon more blue, and we hope you will sign up and help us reach our goals of 1000 Neighborhood Leaders in time for midterm elections.
Additionally, we partnered with other Metro counties, working to build bridges within legislative districts that cross county lines. We initiated a tri-county meeting of our House District Leaders and are looking forward to more opportunities for collaboration.
Members have actively created space for their own activism this year. Our membership welcomed the formation of the Women's Caucus, Black American Caucus, and Progressive Caucus. We’ve also hosted events from postcard writing parties to forums about the trajectory of the Democratic Party.
Twice this year, the WashCo Dems have picked up trash on both sides of Scholls Ferry Road as part of our participation in the Adopt-a-Road program. Members also participated in Family Promise Beaverton’s Drive In-Sleep Out fundraiser to put the brakes on homelessness in our community, raising $460 towards funding warming shelters during the harsh winter season.
Smart Organizing and Building the Bench
Our Campaign Committee, made up of our House District Leaders, continuously works with volunteers in district and recruits candidates for local office in their house district. We have connected with other grassroots groups, such as Our Revolution and Indivisible, both to raise awareness for our activities and to encourage new voices to join our party.
The Endorsement & Contributions Committee has been busy vetting and supporting great local candidates who represent our shared values. In 2017, we contributed $7000 toward our Hillsboro School Board candidates, enabling them to hire staff and to drive turnout by funding important mailings.
We pride ourselves in being the only county in Oregon that has a FULL-TIME Field Director, who helps us to maintain a strong organizing presence. He has been instrumental in sustaining our Neighborhood Leader Program and in helping us pass the Hillsboro School Bond.
Our next task is to pass Measure 101 in the January special election. We have been part of a grassroots coalition of over a dozen Washington County-based organizations seeking to pass the measure. Having co-hosted the Washington County Kickoff & Canvass event, we are proud that the WashCo Dems are leading the efforts to mobilize our voters to ensure that families and children keep access to their healthcare.
Our office in Hillsboro has served as a base of operations for the coalition. Every Monday evening, we've hosted phone banks and on weekends served as a resource for various canvassing groups. We helped to organized door-to-door canvassing efforts in Beaverton, Hillsboro, and Tualatin during the critical GOTV phase of the campaign. We even sponsored a phone bank during our November Central Committee meeting!
We owe a deep gratitude to the dedication of the Finance Committee, which has done a stellar job in overhauling three very successful fundraisers to keep our work going. We are on target to end the year with close to $20,000 net income - almost double our 2016 total! We are well positioned to have a smooth operation in 2018 and to support local candidates running for office in School Board, City, County and other Board races.
This past year, we focused on creating small-scale fundraisers to sustain our Blue Horizon Fund, which keeps the doors to our permanent home in Hillsboro open. We raised $430 from Hillsboro Hops game ticket sales and raised over $650 at our first Open House/Winter Holiday Craft Fair!
Notable Standing Committee Highlights!
In 2017, the Communications Committee expanded from just three volunteers to a dynamic team of a dozen volunteers. Through the hard work of our new press release team, we were able to attract newspaper and television news coverage. We have also expanded our social media presence, established a strong online presence through our main Facebook page and our Values in Action page, and we hope to do the same for our Twitter feed.
We have developed publicity resources to support party-endorsed candidates running for office, and we’re in the process of developing rapid response procedures to spread the word about WashCo Dems values, issues and the candidates that the Party has endorsed.
After a long hiatus, the IT Committee was revived this year and is now in the process of overhauling our technology and information infrastructure. Our current project is develop a new website presence that will be informative and easy to use, not to mention bilingual and user-accessible.
The Latinx Outreach Committee returned in 2017 and organized a strong group of Latinx leaders. Washington County is one of the most diverse counties in Oregon and through engagement activities, the Latinx Outreach Committee has worked to ensure our Washco Dems party can be representative of that. In doing so, we have boothed at the Hillsboro Latino Cultural Festival, hosted a DACAs and Dreamers Call to Action Meeting with Hillsboro Councilor, Olivia Alcaire, and attended a variety of house parties with local Latinx leaders and volunteers.
Platform & Resolutions Committee
This was another active year for the Resolutions & Platform Committee. Our PCPs passed fourteen resolutions covering topics from the protection of the Elliot Forest to support for Police De-escalation Training to the National Popular Vote (NPV) Interstate Compact.
Legislative response, however, was disappointing. While the Elliot Forest was protected from sale and a good dialogue was created around Community Health Centers and Sanctuary Status, several important issues were stymied by legislative inaction, such as on the NPV and groundwater protections. We continue our efforts to raise awareness through wider distribution of our resolutions and through visiting with our representatives.
Finally, we began efforts to create a county-specific platform in addition to establishing Legislative Action Item (LAI) priorities. We anticipate that this work will be completed in early 2018.
As we enter the new year, we must continue to build coalitions and to elect Democrats at all levels of public service. To do so, we will continue to invest in our Neighborhood Leader Program to encourage our neighbors to participate in the political process, and we must continue to raise the funds needed to sustain our organizing strength. We look forward to connecting with you and continuing this work together.