Rusty for Chair logo

The First 100 Days

Over the last 3 months, I have traveled to all 58 counties to speak with California Democrats about how we build a bigger, better, stronger Party. From Trinity to Tulare and from Mono to Mendocino, the message is the same – we must come together to directly confront our challenges and win in 2020 and beyond!

My conversations with Democrats across the State tell me that we have the chance to be an example to the rest of the nation. A chance to build a more inclusive Party that embraces our diversity – a beautiful tapestry of backgrounds, geographies, and ideas – and doubles-down on the historic energy and victories of 2018 to replace Trump in 2020. I’m committed to doing just that with each and every one of you!

But, there is little time to lose. The first 100 days of a new administration sets the tone and tenor for the months and years to come. So, here are my commitments to you and promises I will keep in the first 100 days as your Chair:

  • A New Misconduct Policy– Every single person should feel and be safe when engaging with our Party. We must reform the CDP by (1) establishing a culture change that makes it clear that misconduct, harassment, and bullying will not be tolerated; and (2) implementing a new system that ensures the pain and suffering experienced by the survivors of prior harassment never occurs again. Informed by a Task Force of progressive leaders, legal experts, and survivors I announced on April 2, I commit to enact a new misconduct policy within 30 days and propose any necessary bylaws changes at the August 2019 Executive Board meeting.
  • Grassroots Training and Development– The nation looks to California for progressive leadership. So, we have an obligation to continue to build a strong bench of candidates, organizers, and leaders to win at every level. Our County Committees, Democratic Clubs, and grassroots organizations must be stronger than ever before and we must give grassroots leaders the tools they need and want to compete year-round at every level of the ballot. I will hire a high-caliber Director of Training and Development in the first 100 days with the appropriate team to follow. Through a variety of tailored training methods and venues, the team will assist grassroots leaders with: (1) organizational leadership, management, and fundraising, (2) local candidate recruitment and development; and (3) program development to include, but not limited to, voter registration, phone and walk programs, and social/digital media support.
  • Answering the Big Questions Together – There are 3 big questions that our Party must answer:
    1. How should we fund our Party’s programs in a way that matches our values?
    2. How should committees be formed and what should they do?
    3. How should the ADEMs process be reformed to ensure we engage as many Democrats as possible in a voting process that is fair, equal, and transparent?

I commit to create 3 ad hoc committees within the first 100 days to answer these questions. Upon completion of each committee’s respective body of work, I will implement the recommended policy changes and propose any necessary bylaws changes at the following Executive Board Meeting.

  • The High Cost of Serving– It is too expensive for many Delegates to participate in their Party. Annual dues. Convention fees. Caucus dues. Transportation costs. Hotel costs. Food costs. It all adds up. We should, however, acknowledge the steps that have been taken to defray costs through various waivers programs. In fact, we must do more to publicize these options. But, we must continue to reduce cost barriers for students, seniors, and workers in low wage jobs – the Californians we are striving to uplift. I will review the direct costs to Delegates, commit to an immediate 25% reduction through either a reduction in dues/fees or a Party scholarship program, and provide a progress report at the August 2019 Executive Board Meeting.
  • The Party in Rural California– The Party’s Conventions and Executive Boards are too often in our State’s urban centers, while little attention is given to rural parts of the State. While legitimate reasons such as transportation accessibility and the costs or availability of union accommodations are often cited, every Democrat in every corner of the State counts. So, I will announce plans to bring an Executive Board meeting to a rural community – likely in the Central Valley – in the first 18 months as Chair. And to continue the connection with every part of our Party, I will personally visit Delegates in all 58 counties every year I serve as Chair.
  • More Seats at the Decision-Making Tables – Our Party is a big Party. More than 3,400 DSCC members represent more than 9 million Democrats across California. Yet, we only have 5 statewide Officers. I propose to expand the Executive Committee to 9 by adding an additional 4 Vice Chairs to more fully represent the diversity of California’s Democrats… including the participation of at least one undocumented Californian. Further, each Vice Chair should have specific assignments based on their prior body of work and be connected to the work of our Standing Committees. I will also review the current number, type, structure, scope of work, and support for Regional Directors, Caucuses, and Statewide Chartered Organizations and seek to expand their voice within our Party. I will bring a proposal based on these concepts for consideration to the August 2019 Executive Board meeting with a goal of implementing any necessary bylaws or policy changes by the end of 2019.
  • Financial Transparency– Each year, tens of millions of dollars flow in and out of our Party. And far too often, Delegates are unaware of how resources are raised, managed, or expended. I believe in a transparent budgeting process that ensures proper fiscal oversight and integrity of our programs. It’s how I manage a $4.5 million operating budget today. It’s how I will manage the Party’s finances. First, I will retain a reputable third-party accounting firm to complete a multi-year financial audit and assess the Party’s financial and accounting systems. Second, in consultation with the Controller and Finance Committee, I will submit a 4-month operating budget – including a fundraising action plan for the upcoming November 2019 Convention in Long Beach – for the remaining 4 months of the year at the August 2019 Executive Board and commit to submitting an annual operating budget for approval by the Executive Board each year I am Chair.

As you can see, there is no shortage of work to do. But, my commitment to you is that I’ll deliver on these important promises in the first 100 days as your Chair. I believe doing so will put our Party on solid footing to win back the White House in 2020 and build an even bigger, better, stronger Party in the months and years to come. I hope you will join me!

If you have more questions about any/all of the above, please contact me directly at 213-399-8872 or [email protected].

Thank you,

Rusty Hicks