Commentary

Save the date: Celsi is March 21st

Nominations for Dick Celsi, Governor Barbara Roberts Young Democrat and Bill and Gladys McCoy Awards Are Now Open!

Celsi Celebration – March 21, 2020

Get your nominations in by January 21

The 2020 Democratic Party of Multnomah County Dick Celsi Fundraising Event will be held March 21, 2020.  Three individuals will be recognized for their service and commitment to the Party.

Nominations for the Dick Celsi Award, the Bill and Gladys McCoy Award, and the Governor Barbara Roberts Young Democrat Award are now open. You may offer nominations by using this link to our nomination form. Nominations are due by midnight the night of January 21,2020.

The Dick Celsi Award

Dick Celsi – “Celsi” as his friends called him – served as Chair of the Multnomah County Democrats during the 1970s and Chair of the State Democratic Party during the 1980s and into the 1990s. A Democratic Socialist, he was a strong voice for the poor, homeless, and those without means.

In honor of Dick Celsi, a Precinct Committee Person (PCP) who emulates Dick Celsi’s dedication to the Party and to grassroots activism will be selected to receive the Dick Celsi Award. To be eligible for this award, the PCP must not have previously received it, must not be a State or County Democratic Party Officer, and must not have been an officer of the Multnomah County Democrats within the last six months. 

Governor Barbara Roberts Young Democrat Award

Barbara Roberts served as the 34th Governor of Oregon from 1991 to 1995. She was the first woman to serve as Oregon Governor, and was also the first woman to serve as Majority Leader in the Oregon House of Representatives. She also served as Secretary of State for two terms, and, most recently, as a member of the Metro Council from 2011 to 2013. 

In her honor, the Governor Barbara Roberts Young Democrat Award is presented to a young Democrat who has significantly contributed as a volunteer for our organization. To be eligible for this award, the recipient shall be no older than 37 as of January 1, 2020.

Bill and Gladys McCoy Award

Bill McCoy in 1972 became the first African-American elected to the Oregon State Legislature. His wife Gladys became the first African-American member of the Portland School Board in 1970, and then the first African-American Multnomah County Commissioner in 1979.

In their honor, the Bill and Gladys McCoy Award recognizes a present or past-elected official who resides in Multnomah County and who has provided significant service and support to the Party.
We thank everyone of our volunteers and we thank you for helping to choose the award recipients. Please use this form to submit your nominations.

Multnomah Democrats Chair Statement on House District 36 Election

In order to bring forward nominations to replace Representative Jennifer Williamson as State House Representative for District 36, the elected and appointed precinct committee persons (PCPs) of that district will hold a convention at Portland State University Smith Memorial Ballroom, starting at 10am January 12. The Democratic Party of Oregon, in partnership with Multnomah Democrats, are organizing the convention in accordance with state law and party bylaws. The PCPs of that district will vote to forward three, four, or five nominees to the Multnomah County Commissioners. The Commisioners will select one person from those nominees to serve the rest of the term.

Currently, several candidates are also declared and campaigning for the Democratic Primary to serve in that position. That primary vote will be held in May. Some of the candidates for the primary are also seeking nomination for the temporary appointment.

Lurelle Robbins, the chair of the Democratic Party of Multnomah County (Multnomah Democrats), released the following statement:

The Democratic Party of Multnomah County in conjunction with the Democratic Party of Oregon have convened a nomination convention for HD 36 on January 12th.

The precinct committee persons (PCP’s) for HD 36 that were elected in the 2018 May primary plus any additional PCP’s that have been appointed to fill any remaining vacancies since that time will be the voting body. They will be charged with making decisions on what names to forward to the County Commission for consideration.

Registered voters may become elected to these important PCP positions on the May 2020 ballot and may file with the Party or at the Multnomah County Elections Division.

If the Nominating Convention forwards three, four, or five names to the County Commission, they must select from the names submitted to them.

The PCP’s are entrusted with this important task; that of selecting the names to be submitted to the County Commission for appointment to fill the vacancy by Oregon State Law.

I encourage the PCP’s to take their duty and this responsibility seriously and to choose the best candidates. I served in that capacity at a nominating convention when Representative Bonamici was appointed to statewide office and again when she was appointed to fill the Congressional vacancy due to the resignation of David Woo. I also served in the nominating convention that resulted in the appointment of Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward.

This process has served us well in our representative democracy of which the PCP’s are the representatives. I see no compelling reason for the PCP’s to not exercise their duty and right to choose the best candidates in their collective estimation to serve in the upcoming short session.

The voters of the district will be given the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice in the May 2020 primary.

Lurelle Robbins, Chair
Democratic Party of Multnomah County

Michael Burleson, Rules Committee Chair

Michael Burleson, Chair of Rules Committee, sees role as leveling the field.

If you were fortunate enough to attend October 12th Comedy, Candidates, and Cocktail fundraiser, you heard Michael Burleson’s spot on impressions of George W Bush, Trump, and Bernie Sanders. He then took a moment to make his campaign pitch for Portland mayor. Besides running for mayor Michael is the new head of the MCD Rules Committee, which is why he is featured here.

Even at the tender age of five, Michael Burleson knew he believed in science, but he found himself the odd person out when after “a hokey presentation on how improbable it (evolution) was,” he was the only child left raising his hand attesting to the belief in evolution after someone said, “Wait, is evolution the one where we evolved from monkeys?” In suburban Texas, almost everyone was a conservative Republican.

That didn’t stop him from voting for Al Gore in his second grade mock election—a decision he is still proud of. “An Inconvenient Truth” taught him about climate change in 2005 when he was 12, contrary to those around him. “Basically, the gist is this; I’m a Democrat because the Republicans were and are anti-science.”

Michael Burleson is a relative newcomer to Portland, having come here for law school in 2016 after attending the Texas State Democratic Party convention in San Antonio. This is after he had convinced his parents to become state delegates for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, before Michael could vote. He became active in the party through his support of Bernie Sanders in 2015.

Michael’s first Multnomah Democratic event was probably in December, right after the 2016 election. It was a fellow Bernie delegate who suggested he get involved with the Rules Committee. Because it is the Rules Committee that creates the bylaws and standing rules for the organization and “if I wanted to “combat the institutional nepotism that keeps out brown, black, young, and working class folks from our party, this is where I needed to start.”

According to Michael, the Rules Chairman needs to have “a combination of parliamentary skills and the knowledge and strength of character to deal with systemic oppression.” In both of these areas, Michael feels competent. His understanding of parliamentary procedure started with high school debate and continued as he worked with the model United Nations in college. From his junior year in high school he also participated in Student Congress, where students learned how to pass bills and resolutions in a congressional setting. These experiences were so formative that he highly recommends them to young people.

Michael’s character has been forged through a number of experiences. First, his church, though backward about evolution, grew to be very social and racial justice conscious. He started organizing with them around issues like payday lending, and led a study group on school segregation while attending UT, Dallas. Throughout that time, the number of people whom he met who struggled to work several jobs and take care of school-aged kids troubled him. This led to a stint teaching at CitySquare AmeriCorps in Dallas, Texas, with a population that was largely low-income, minority, and/or refugees. He and his girlfriend, who was Pakistani and spoke three languages, taught a mock trial class together. But even with their combined skills, it was incredibly difficult to help students from around the world achieve the same reading comprehension as their peers. It was harder still to find kids whose parents cold pick them up at 3pm.

“My work at AmeriCorps, and in organizing, and later at the Innocence Project of Texas, still informs my dedication to racial and social justice. Specifically, I believe that our bylaws, even now, disenfranchise people of color and working people. A lack of time limits, seemingly endless meetings, and unwritten rules all plague us even now.“ Progress had been made. “the process for amending the bylaws and standing rules is now one month. We have a systematic program to put primary challengers on equal footing with incumbents through our candidate accountability program. We enacted STAR voting to further our voices. But there is more work to be done. I try to come to the position every day with the ides of doing what is right and not necessarily what is popular But, if I can, I try to make what is right a reality by constantly repeating the message of social and racial justice and elevating the voices of those in our party who are disenfranchised.”

When he’s not working on class action lawsuits for a local law firm while he waits to take the bar, Michael bikes, likes indoor rock climbing and would like to get back to karate. His ease with impressions comes from a few years of theater in middle school.

Aiming for Goals

Some of the goals Michael would like to accomplish are: 1) make the party chair a paid position at $15/hr to enable working people to be elected; 2)create firm time limits for central committee meetings; 3) limit the number of standing committee meetings before decisions are made on pending resolutions, bylaws, and other action items; 4) publish Robert’s Rules Cheat Sheets in all major languages; 5) move central committee meetings around town so that people of color are more represented at the meetings; and 6) identify other forces systemically oppressing people seeking to get politically involved.

Join the Effort

Michael is looking for committee members who would like to join him to “promote a socially and racially just democracy.” He would like to see more representation from women and minorities. Committee meetings are once a month, but can involve some homework. Innovative ideas, policy expertise and guidance on elevating other voices within the party would be greatly valued. If you are interested in providing input at every state of the development of our party’s rules and bylaws, contact Michael at rules@multdems.org.

MultDems co-sponsor Lights for Liberty, July 12 Vigil against human concentration camps in America

Download this statement as a PDF

As human beings, we should all be against the inhuman caging of men, women and children in concentration camps.

I invite you to join in solidarity opposing the camps by attending Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps on July 12, 2019. Become part of this nationwide statement of values in opposition to ripping families apart. Our America welcomes immigrants and does not put those seeking asylum into concentration camps. 

The Democratic Party of Multnomah County calls upon all Americans to join the massive outcry for an end to the human concentration camps that are established and maintained by the Trump administration. We as a country welcome those that experience injustice elsewhere. We as a nation value human rights both within our borders and across the globe. Democrats will not accept that this administration represents us when it takes children from their families, locks people in pens, and denies them basic human rights like access to water and family. Our government’s treatment of children and families seeking asylum is reprehensible.

Multnomah Democrats are proud to join with fellow sponsors of Lights for Liberty including Dolores Huerta and United Farm Workers Foundation who continue their noble advocacy for justice in America. We share their outrage at the policies of the Trump administration and at the suffering of vulnerable people at the Southern border. We thank the organizers, both national and local, for making this event happen.

Join Multnomah Democrats at the event we are co-sponsoring at Terry Schrunk Plaza (SW 3rd Avenue, between Madison and Jefferson St) at 8:30 pm Friday July 12, 2019 or at other events in the area:

  • Terry Schrunk Plaza, on SW 3rd Ave, between Madison & Jefferson St 8:30 pm
  • ICE Detention Center, 4310 SW Macadam Ave, Portland 7:30 pm
  • Hillsdale Food Carts on SW Sunset Blvd 9pm
  • Unity of Portland, 4525 SE Stark St, Portland, Oregon 97215, 8pm

For other locations around the state and nation, visit https://www.lightsforliberty.org/localevents

Signed,
Lurelle Robbins
Chair, Democratic Party of Multnomah County