For the first time in my life, I am running for elected public office. Yes, when you vote for President, there’s a chance you will see my name on your ballot!
If you’d have asked me before if I was ever going to run for any type of public office, my answer would have been no.
But then a few things happened.
In 2017, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found dead of a meth overdose in the West Hollywood home of Democratic donor Ed Buck. Buck, was 63 and White, a longtime political donor, a one-time West Hollywood City Council candidate and a well-known figure in LGBTQ political circles. Moore was Black and gay and had worked as an escort.
Ed Buck contributed thousands of dollars to the California Democratic Party, candidates running for office and those in elected office.
At the time of Moore’s death, the California Democratic Party and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party was being led by one of Buck’s longtime friends — Eric Bauman — someone who I believe helped to protect Buck with his silence and willingness to look the other way.
A year and a half later, another Black man was dead from the same cause in Ed Buck’s apartment. His name was Timothy Dean.
I believe that California’s Democratic Party–at all levels–is in the middle of an integrity crisis. Our Party no longer reflects the interests of the people it serves and many of its members are disillusioned–I know because I am one.
Black people have been complaining for years about how the Democratic Party takes our votes for granted.
That’s not the kind of political party I want to belong to. One that sees the lives of Black people as expendable. As Democrats—particularly Black Democrats–that is not the type of return we expect on our years of investing in the Democratic Party with our time and our votes.
So I am running for a seat on the County Central Committee.
The people who function essentially as the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are known as County Central Committee Members and they are elected by a vote of the People every four years.
These local offices are extremely important because it’s the County Central Committee Members who get to vote on who gets the endorsement of the Party, financial support and what issues the Party addresses.
For example, when it was time to decide on who was getting the Democratic Party’s endorsement in the District Attorney’s race, I felt bad when members of the community showed up to the meeting thinking they could come and vote simply because they were registered Democrats.
While the monthly meetings of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party are open to the public for any registered Democrat to attend, only County Central Committee Members are allowed to vote.
That’s right. Just being a registered Democrat does not make you a part of your local Democratic Party. You have to pay your dues, be in good standing and be elected to the County Central Committee to have a vote that matters and more importantly counts.
These positions are not highly publicized by the Party and that’s why the status quo keeps getting elected and re-elected.
In California, County Central Committee Members are elected by registered Democrats via our 80 State Assembly Districts. This means, that the Assembly District you live in will dictate the seven County Central Committee Members who you can vote for to represent you. I live in Assembly District 53.
And let me be clear. My district is not a Black district. Thanks to gentrification and the high cost of rent, Black people live everywhere–not just in South L.A.
Black people should run wherever they live. We do not just have to run for public office in Black districts only because we have a stake in whatever community we find ourselves in.
Only registered Democrats who live in Adams-Normandie, Boyle Heights, Downtown Los Angeles, East Hollywood, Hancock Park, Huntington Park, Koreatown, Larchmont Village, Pico-Union, Westlake, Wilshire Center and Vernon can vote for me.
But whether you can vote for me is not my point. My point is that everyone, no matter what Assembly District you live in, will have the opportunity to vote for members of their community to represent them in the Democratic Party. Too often the County Central Committee seats are treated the same as candidates for judge. We either skip over it or pick names based on if they look like the names of Black people. We’ve seen what years of doing that has done to our criminal justice system. Well, it’s had the same effect on the Democratic Party.
As voters, we have to do our research and stop taking this critical elected office for granted.
There are very few Black people elected to County Central Committee in Los Angeles County and even fewer in leadership. If we want the Party to take us, our vote and our issues more seriously then we have to be at the table–versus on the menu.
There is no compensation for this elected office and the Members volunteer their time to help run the Party.
Only the top seven vote-getters will be elected from each Assembly District and only registered Democrats or No Party Preference voters who request a Democratic ballot, can vote for County Central Committee Members to be elected to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
In closing, you want to elect County Central Committee Members whose votes and silence cannot be bought. You want to elect County Central Committee Members who will hold the Los Angeles County Democratic Party leadership accountable to the People and not to their favorite elected officials. Most importantly, you want to elect County Central Committee Members who will look out for and represent everyone with integrity.
These seats are very important and directly impact the makeup of your local Democratic Party.
Jasmyne A. Cannick is running for County Central Committee in the 53rd Assembly District. Learn more about her campaign at voteforjasmyne.com.