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Los Angeles County, CA March 2, 2004 Election
Smart Voter

What does the County Central Committee do?

By Peter J. Rudinskas

Candidate for Democratic Party County Central Committee; County of Los Angeles; Assembly District 48

This information is provided by the candidate
The work of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, in a nutshell
County Committee members are average folks who volunteer some of our time to serve our country by serving the Democratic Party. We are publicly elected officials that function, essentially, as the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Unlike many other progressive organizations or clubs, we have official duties, as defined by the California Election Code, and carry the official weight of the California Democratic Party for certain matters within our jurisdiction.

In the mythical lore of days gone by, "party bosses" called the political shots far from public view in the hallowed "smoke-filled room." Today's Democratic Central Committee bears almost no resemblance to this archetype of the past. Actually, all of our meetings are public and open to any registered Democrat. We meet monthly, normally during the second Tuesday at 7:00p at the United Teachers of Los Angeles caucus room (3303 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010). Members perform most of their work in subcommittees and local delegations, which are also open to public view by any registered Democrat.

Here are a number of areas within our purview (partial list):

  • Endorsements: We take positions on candidates and ballot-measures at the county and city level, including nonpartisan contests. There is a clearly delineated process that is designed to be fair and equitable to all candidates. The Candidate and Judicial Interview Committees, both of which I am a member, evaluate the written and verbal responses of all Democratic candidates for a given office and present any recommendation to the main body. We do interview all the candidates with an open mind, and come to our conclusions based on the merits of the situation. The integrity of this process has led to our endorsement as an increasingly credible measure of who the best candidate is, without undue favor to the personal relationships that may have come to undermine the quality of endorsees in decades past.

  • Resolutions: We take nonbinding positions on issues of relevance to the Party in the form of resolutions. These actions signal the body's consensus opinion to our Party's elected officials, who often may choose to allow the issue to take shape in the form of actual legislation. The Resolutions Committee goes to great lengths to refine any proposed language until it is the most reflective of the views of the broadest possible cross-section of the Democratic electorate.

  • Fundraising: Proposition 34 gives the County Central Committees special authority to raise contributions for Democratic candidates and causes. We host a number of annual banquets and serve as a conduit for individuals and organizations seeking to help like-minded candidates.

  • Voter Communication: The County Central Committee has the authority to purchase an official ballot statement or to utilize the Registrar's voter index to communicate directly with the electorate. We have utilized these previously to publicize our endorsements and demonstrate our leadership priorities.

  • Party-Building Activity: We have the ongoing responsibility of communicating important policy issues to the electorate and continuing to add new registered voters to our Democratic ranks. Within an election cycle, the attention turns to "get out the vote" efforts to maximize electoral participation.

  • State Central Committee and State Executive Board: The County Central Committee selects members to represent it at higher levels of Party leadership, such as the State Central Committee and State Executive Board, which, in turn, has the important responsibility of producing a biennial Party Platform and selecting members to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

  • Election Conduct: The Democratic Party has standing to enforce challenges to election-related conduct that would detriment one of our Party's nominees. If ever an election were as close as that observed in 2000 in Florida, we would have the responsibility of protecting the rights of Democratic voters.

  • Electoral Continuity: Should there ever be a vacancy by the party nominee that occurs after a primary but before a general election, state law specifically delegates the responsibility for selecting a replacement candidate to the county and state central committees of each party. This contingency occurs highly infrequently, however is most likely the primary rationale for our existence as a formal institution. Thus, your vote for County Central Committee is principally a means of indirect representation into this process.

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