State of the County Party Address

Endorsement Convention, February 13, 2018

Sally Lyall – LCDC Chairperson

Activism sums up 2017 and the beginning of 2018 – from the Women’s March last January and protests throughout the year, to the birth and growth of our Rapid Response Teams, and to a commitment that is thriving and experienced every day in our lives and in the Lancaster County Democratic Committee.

Activism is seen in packed forums on DACA, Healthcare, and Planned Parenthood, down to the need of our districts to find larger accommodations for all who want to attend our meetings. At one district’s greeter training last November, over 60 people packed the room! Activism reaches into the Underground at headquarters where it’s not uncommon for 15-20 people to show up to make fundraising calls. Candidates are stepping up to run for office because they know the time is NOW. They’re not waiting until their schedules are perfect. They’re in it now!

A year ago, our committee person strength covered only 53% of our county Democrats. This year, thanks to district leaders solidly committing to recruit neighborhood organizers, the number of county Democrats who have a committee person has gone from 53% up to 70%. Hats off to the standout leadership in our districts! Democrats throughout Lancaster want a reason to meet each other, realize that they’re not alone, and know that their precincts have a Democratic organizer they can turn to.

Year-round activism and running Democrats in all elections every year are our keys to turning Lancaster Blue, changing the power in Harrisburg, and balance in Washington. When Republicans think they can’t win, their bench of eagerly awaiting candidates dries up. The steeper the climb, the less appealing the race, but we Democrats do our best training on steep hills!

Truth is, regardless of the district or how unlikely a Democratic win, we need to run our best in every election every year. If Democrats can win in unlikely races in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Alabama, we can win in Lancaster, too!

We’ve proven that! Here are some facts to savor:

  • Three Democrats were elected mayors in Lancaster – Danene Sorace in Lancaster City, James Malone in East Peterburg, and Harold “Brosey” Kulman in Marietta.
  • Democrats were elected to school boards in Columbia, Conestoga Valley, Donegal, Elizabethtown, Manheim Central, Manheim Township, and the School District of Lancaster.
  • Democrats are now presidents of 3 school boards – the School District of Lancaster, Manheim Township, and Manheim Central’s in there, too, with both the President and VP. of the school board.
  • Democrats were elected onto the governing councils of Adamstown, Columbia, Drumore, Ephrata, Manheim Township, Marietta, Millersville, Lancaster City, and Lancaster Township. Our victories are won by candidates who are not afraid of the opposition or steep hills! They are won by smart, hard-working, competent candidates who knock on all doors, speak to voters, and ask respectfully for their vote.

Activism unfortunately doesn’t guarantee victory. We owe a debt of gratitude to 28 candidates who ran their hardest but didn’t make it into office – not this time, but they will. They may not have won, but they opened peoples’ eyes and they helped close the gap so we may win in the future. Fewer than five votes per precinct kept us from winning the decisive third commissioner’s seat in Manheim Township…but get ready for next time! Only 9 votes kept a Women’s Marcher from winning a seat on Mountville Boro Council… but get ready for next time! Speaking of next time, as we collect petition signatures and do our door-to-door work, we must always look for future candidates and campaign team members. That’s how we grow.

Finally, one of the greatest gifts of recent activism is the power that has come from speaking up. Once silent, our voices are now being heard loudly through the MeToo movement. The stories of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct sicken but sadly do not surprise us. At the recent convention, the PA State Dems delegates unanimously voted to enact a Comprehensive Sexual Assault & Harassment Code of Conduct to be implemented for all elected Democrats, from the State Party Chair to the County Chairs to Committee People.

At LCDC, we have earned the right to take pride in our election accomplishments, pride in our growth as an organization, and optimism in our future which shines with the continued activism of all of us.

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