02.10.2020

Representation Matters: Historical number of African Americans running in Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee races

Representation Matters: Historical number of African Americans running in Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee races
There’s been plenty of concern voiced about the lack of candidates of color in the Democratic Presidential Primary following the exits of Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and Cory Booker from the campaign. We’re now finding many of those voices of concern within the Democratic Party of Sacramento County to be purely artificial alarm.
 
Slates are a strategic method to increase the chance of winning in an election. Unless, there’s an acceptance with Black people continuing to have little to no representation, it seems like a reasonable expectation for an African American to be present on the slates of each Supervisor District for the Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee. However, as slates start to come to light, the obvious question is, “where are the Black candidates?”
 
In Sacramento County nearly 20% of the Democratic voters are Black voters. Black people consistently vote for the Democratic Party in excess of 85% which is more than any other demographic group. Yet there was only one Black candidate (less than 5%) elected to the Sacramento County Central Committee in the last election. In expecting this ongoing erasure of the voice of African Americans, an effort called the Community Champions was organized to recruit and promote Black candidates for the Central Committee.
 
The Community Champions combined with other African Americans getting more politically active resulted in a record number of African Americans to qualify for the ballot for the Sacramento County Democratic Party Central Committee. Now Democratic voters of Sacramento County have an opportunity to vote for candidates that more closely align to the commitment that African Americans give to the Party. But what is even more apparent is the need for local political activists to be as inclusive of African Americans as African Americans are loyal to the party.
 
It needs to be explained how any individuals organizing slates for the Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee would not provide for representation that reflects the commitment African Americans give to the Party. This omission could provide context on a local level for why candidates of color in the Democratic Presidential Primary has shrunk to only being Andrew Yang.
 
Central Committees are the local entity that feed up to the California Democratic Party which is statewide. The Central Committee often choose the candidates that local Democrats will eventually vote for; raises funds on behalf of candidates and the Party; builds the Party by recruiting new people and identifies new candidates. Theoretically, the Central Committee represents all of the local Democrats within a county.
 
In the past few years, the Democratic Party of Sacramento County has actually made strides including African Americans in leadership roles. Today three of the seven members of the Executive Board are African American women. None of them joined the Central Committee as elected members which is the largest portion of Central Committee representation above Club Representatives and Ex-Officio members.
 
Elected members of the Central Committee are voted on based on Sacramento County Supervisor districts. The Supervisor Districts of Phil Serna (District 1) and Patrick Kennedy (District 2) are diverse areas and have noticeable concentrations of African Americans. District 1 includes North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights, Natomas, and Oak Park. District 2 includes Meadowview, Parkway, and Valley Hi.
 
At a minimum, it would be expected that slates for the Democratic Central Committee would include African American candidates for these districts. For perspective, all of Placer County has fewer African Americans than Districts 1 and 2. In this year’s election, there’s a slate in Placer County that actually has as many African Americans for Democratic Central Committee as revealed for some slates in all of Sacramento County. That seems ludicrous or simply revealing.
 
Despite the obvious opportunity for inclusion, only three of the five Community Champions have been invited to the table by politically established slates. Noticeable, is the absence of a single African American in Districts 1 and 2 on the slate of the Progressive Labor Alliance (www.sacpla.com). This slate did manage to include two African American candidates out of the twenty-seven people on the slate or less than eight percent.
 
Regardless, this is a failure of representation on a slate that includes several heavy-hitters of the Democratic Party of Sacramento County. In years past, some would explain that slates are determined after the filing deadline and there simply weren’t any African Americans who qualified for the ballot. Thanks to the Community Champions, that excuse is no longer available.
 
Homelessness, affordable housing, and police brutality have huge effect throughout California and a disproportionate impact on the Black community. Addressing these issues should be key to any slate for the Democratic Party of Sacramento County. It’s beyond farcical that the group, African Americans, who gives the greatest loyalty to the Democratic Party would get the least amount of consideration on a slate.
 
Thankfully the voters of Sacramento County can do something about that. On March 3, 2020, be sure to vote for representation and inclusion. Learn more about the Community Champions and be sure to vote for at least one African American in each district.
The Community Champions are:
 
Other African Americans on the ballot include Maureen Craft, Deborah Hibbler, Kendra Lewis, and Robert Peters.
 
If there’s a legitimate concern about fairness and representation within the Democratic Party about who is on stage during the Presidential debates, it would serve all well to take note of how the Party reflects those values at the local level.

 Contributing Writer, LaMills Garrett 

LaMills Garrett

LaMills Garrett is a California Democratic Party delegate representing Assembly District 6.  He's committed to addressing issues impacting African Americans, the poor, and the marginalized.  LaMills is determined to help bring about fair representation of Black voices within the Democratic Party.  Mr. Garrett is also a lifetime member of the NAACP and serves on the Board of the Placer Food Bank.  Follow Lamills at: https://medium.com/@lamills_48847m.com/@lamills_48847
 

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