The Young Democrats of America convened June 29th to July 1st in Salt Lake City, UT, for our nationwide conference. The Young Democrats of Massachusetts sent five members to represent the Commonwealth proudly on the national stage.
Salt Lake City provided a beautiful backdrop for the event, and when we weren’t out exploring, we had the great fortune of hearing from diverse speakers, participating in caucus and committee breakouts, and voting in three critical elections.
We’re looking forward to building on our momentum at the biannual Convention to be held next year in Indianapolis, Indiana. Make sure you sign up early for 2019 to join!
Salt Lake City
We were fortunate that the YDA Conference was held in such a fascinating city and beautiful area. When we weren’t attending to YDA business, we were admiring Salt Lake City’s efficient light rail system, exploring the city and its attractions, and enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Highlights include Temple Square, Ensign Peak, the Clark Planetarium, and the terrific restaurants in the area.
The YDMA attendees at this year’s YDA Conference in Salt Lake City Utah were fortunate to hear from inspiring speakers who encouraged us to focus our energy on what matters going into elections this year.
Philanthropist Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen America, shared his perspective on how income and wealth inequality threatens our democracy. Through his experience in financial management, Steyer saw first-hand how those with money manage to protect it and use it to make more at the expense of average working Americans. His message was clear—we must fight to put politicians into office who will protect the values and futures of all Americans, not just the ultra-wealthy.
We were also energized by Shireen Ghorbani, a brilliant candidate for Congress in Utah’s Second Congressional District. She told personal stories about the importance of community, healthcare, and welcoming immigrants. She showed us her father’s copy of a pamphlet explaining how laws work that he received from his senator when he moved to the US, a token that carries extra value for her as a half-Iranian working mom running for office. She reminded us that every race is worth fighting!
Finally, we also got to hear from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, whose profile was recently raised by his trip with a group other senators to a detention center at the southern US border. Although he initially said he could only spend a few minutes with us, he stayed a bit longer than scheduled to share stories from the border and help us see that there is tremendous work to be done fighting for decency and overhauling the way politics work in our country.
All three speakers did a fantastic job of firing up the crowd for the work to come leading into this fall and reigniting our hope of bringing about the inclusive and progressive vision we share for our nation’s future. What better way to celebrate the birth of our country, than to fight to protect our most precious values!
The YDA conference had meetings of all the caucuses and regions, along with a few trainings and the general sessions. Unfortunately, we couldn’t clone ourselves to attend them all (see the full schedule here)! Here are some highlights from the two days:
The Chapter Building training session focused on a huge barrier to chapters when planning their upcoming year’s activities – money! The session emphasized the importance of planning to setting chapter objectives, as well as developing a realistic budget to attain those objectives. Other states shared their experience building up financial resources, with a big emphasis on fundraising strategies.
The Labor Caucus is for union members and all union supporters. The group talked about the impact of the recent Janus v. AFSCME decision by the Supreme Court, which ruled that non-union public sector employees who benefit from union contract negotiations cannot be required to pay a fee to cover the union’s costs to negotiate a contract. The caucus then discussed how we as Democrats can support unions, with the main takeaway that we need to be in communication with local unions and labor federations to see how we can advocate for relevant legislation and candidates.
The LGBTQA Caucus meeting started with elections of new caucus chair Carrie McFadden (previously caucus secretary) and vice chair Isaac Kimes. The caucus plans to focus on LGBTQA+ in November, and have nominations for which candidates to specifically support across the country. They will be electing a new secretary at the next YDA meeting. In order to be a voting member, be sure to register as a caucus member before the next meeting!
The Women’s Caucus secretary Amber Sherman hosted a lively discussion with two excellent female leaders from the Salt Lake area, Salt Lake City Councilwoman Amy Fowler and former Utah State Representative Jennifer “Jen” Seelig. Their advice? Challenge the government and institutions, and make change happen!
The Northeastern Region meeting allowed us to discuss plans for our region and how we can work together in the upcoming midterm elections. The general sessions included YDA elections and committee reports. The minutes of the general sessions will be in made available by the YDA secretary to our YDA committee representatives. One of the reports included a recap of the YDA Lobby Day, with our own YDMA Public Policy Director Solomon Steen featured front and center!
Lastly, the Disability Issues Caucus held two meetings over the weekend. The first meeting covered changes to the caucus bylaws to clarify and ensure leadership succession is in line with YDA requirements. After the changes were submitted to and approved by the Rules Committee, the caucus ended the conference with elections for the new caucus chair, Seamus Campbell (previous caucus treasurer).
This was a great weekend of programming and was a lot of fun to participate! And we intend to bring these lessons and opportunities back home. We are building up all of our statewide caucuses, growing our chapters, and working to support this activity with the help of our brand new fundraising committee!
DNC Committee Elections
On Saturday, June 30, the YDA Committee voted in our new Democratic National Committeeman and Committeewoman. These are two seats the DNC reserves for YDA, providing us a direct channel to influence and learn from the broader party.
The two candidates who ran for Committeeman were Morgan Jameson from Virginia and Daqavise Winston of Indiana. For the Committeewoman seat, three candidates, Briana Cartwright of Florida, Tia Hopkins of Maryland, and Hannah Wroblewski of Nebraska, each ran a passionate campaign. Congrats to the winners, Morgan and Briana! Both took office immediately, and are already off to a great start!
YDA Convention 2019
Later that day, Young Democrats of America members voted for the next location for the 2019 Biennial National Convention. With an overwhelming majority of the vote, Indianapolis won the bid to host next year’s convention. We hope to see you there (although, obviously, many times before as well)!