August 18 – Voting Equality

the August Council of Clubs meeting
Saturday, August 18th at 10AM
IBEW Local 465, 7444 Trade St, CA 92121 (map)

As Democratic clubs we have the opportunity to make our voting methods more equal, honest, accurate, simple and expressive.

The methods we choose to use and support could ultimately be introduced to voters across the county, which is why we need careful consideration of the alternatives.

With the success of measures K and L in the City of San Diego, and with the great work done by SEIU 221 (with the help of Dem Club members!) and The Full Voter Participation Initiative ballot measure this November, fundamental changes to election rules are upon us in San Diego County.

Already there’s talk (from Republicans on the San Diego City Council) to move away from a Primary with Top-Two run-off in the General, to a single election in November using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).

Have you ever attended a club endorsement meeting with races that went to multiple rounds of voting? And where the candidates whose supporters voted and left the meeting early were disadvantaged against those whose supporters hung around through the subsequent rounds of voting?

Instant Runoff Voting (also known as Ranked Choice Voting) removes that issue and makes the voting process more efficient. One ballot is all that’s required. The idea is that you rank your choices in order of preference, and everything works out just as if you’d been there through multiple rounds. The highest vote getter goes through each time, and the lowest vote getter is eliminated.

Sounds great, but there are issues, as the voters of Burlington, Vermont discovered in 2009 – the following year they voted to reject Ranked Choice Voting and return to a Primary and Top-two General.

Codi Vierra, South State Regional Director at California Young Democrats, talked on Ranked Choice Voting (a.k.a. Instant Runoff Voting) and her experience using it for endorsement elections.

Ranked Choice Voting Presentation (PDF)

Codi talked to the fact that clubs already do multi-round voting, and that RCV will simply do the multiple rounds on one ballot.

  • Save time
  • Save paper
  • People who have to leave early can still participate in subsequent “rounds”

Codi argued that STAR voting (see below) fails the later-no-harm test because it can help defeat a favorite candidate

  • It can help a stronger opponent reach the run-off rather than a weaker opponent
  • It can cause the favorite candidate to come in third place by total score rather than second, cutting them out of the runoff round entirely

Michael Brackney, indexer of books at Brackney Indexing Service, offered appreciative and critical remarks about RCV vs. our “Choose One” Plurality Voting system (a.k.a. “First-Past-The-Post”), and then talked about Score Voting in the form of STAR Voting (Score Then Automatic Runoff Voting) as compared to RCV.

In STAR Voting, the winner is determined in two steps. First, all the scores for all the candidates are added up. The second step is an automatic runoff between the two highest scoring candidates. In the runoff, your full vote is automatically assigned to whichever of the top two you rated higher.

Michael described how with RCV second choice votes are only counted for those voters who happen to see their first choice eliminated before their second choice – if your first choice hangs around in the count longer, your second choice is never considered by RCV.

Michael emphasized that RCV also fails the later-no-harm test to put your favorite candidate first, if your favorite candidate is not a safe candidate as you could eliminate your second candidate and cause your least favorite candidate to win.



There’s a lot more information available online at

There were a lot of good questions and suggestions as to how this could be implemented at clubs, with the wider discussion being on how clubs need to choose wisely now, as there are consequences for all San Diego elections in the future.

Michael also got everyone excited at the start of his talk on why voting systems matter when he referenced the Princeton Study, and this graph.

More infuriating is this graph for the Elites

There’s a concise explanation of these graphs on the Center for Political Studies Blog, University of Michigan – Is policy driven by the rich, or does government respond to all?

And a quick video explanation from Represent Us.

This is why we need to change our voting systems, and the place to start is at our own clubs.

Thanks to our speakers who did a great job presenting and answering a wide range of questions, and to IBEW Local 465 and Nate Fairman for hosting us.

July 21 – Running for Boards and Commissions

the July Council of Clubs meeting
Saturday, July 21st at 10AM
IBEW Local 465, 7444 Trade St, CA 92121 (map)

July’s Council of Clubs featured a presentation from Mark Gracyk, of Helix Water District, and José Cerda, of Sweetwater Water District and founding of Chula Vista Democratic Club, on running for Boards and Commissions.

We’re often extolled to run for local Boards and Commissions as a stepping stone for other office positions, but what does it entail? How much help can we expect from the Party? Who should we recruit to help? Mark and José answered questions, and asked that we encourage our club members to step up for our communities.

San Diego County Boards, Commissions and Committees
County government includes those standing and special citizen boards, commissions, committees and task forces formed to advise the Board of Supervisors and County staff on issues and policy and to serve as links to the community. County committees are created as a result of State and Federal legislation, agreements with public or private agencies, and local needs. Boards, Commissions and Committees advise Board of Supervisors on issues relating to the welfare and quality of life in the County. They provide an inter-relationship between the citizenry of the County and the government of the County.

Citizen Advisory Committees range from short-term task-oriented to long-term standing committees with broad-based jurisdictional responsibilities. There are committees for County Service Areas (CSA), health and human services, criminal justice, elderly, planning, land use, parks, libraries, housing, and others.

The following information is available to assist you in participating in a County Board, Committee or Commission.

San Diego City Boards and Commissions

The City of San Diego has a variety of boards and commissions offering an excellent opportunity for individuals to volunteer their services on significant matters. Boards and commissions may be fiduciary, regulatory, policy-setting and/or advisory. In all cases, members’ contributions are invaluable to the Mayor, the City Council and the City.

View list of Boards and Commissions with description of their responsibilities, membership lists and their conflict of interest codes (if applicable).

Expiring Terms and Unscheduled Vacancies

Expiring Terms lists the terms that are expiring of City Board and Commission members by month. It includes the name of the board or commission, the member’s name and the date the term is scheduled to expire.

Unscheduled Vacancies lists any current unscheduled vacancies on City Boards and Commissions such as vacancies caused by resignation or death.

Interest Form

If you would like to be considered for an appointment to one of the City’s boards and/or commissions, you may print and PDF icon mail in an interest form or submit your interest form online.

For other questions or concerns, see the Frequently Asked Questions, call (619) 533-4000, or email [email protected].

We also discussed changes to the Bylaws of the San Diego County Democratic Party that affect clubs and these were subsequently sent to the Party’s Admin committee, to be voted on at the August 28, 2018 Central Committee meeting.

Ryan Hurd, Executive Director of the San Diego County Democratic Party, has shared a useful presentation of the newly created City Council Districts in San Diego County – available as a PDF here.

Many thanks to IBEW Local 465 and Nate Fairman for hosting us.

June 2018 – Robert’s Rules of Order

the June Council of Clubs meeting is
Saturday, June 16th at 10AM
IBEW Local 465, 7444 Trade St, CA 92121 (map)

This month’s Council of Clubs features a presentation from Doug Case on Robert’s Rules of Order and hearing the minority.

Roberts Rules of Order is is the most widely used manual of parliamentary procedure in the United States. At first acquaintance the rules may seem off-putting and archaic, but with a little familiarity their strengths and fairness become evident. Like other parliamentary authorities they share the general idea of rule of the majority with respect for the minority.

Doug Case is Political Affairs Director for Senator Toni Atkins. He worked in the Division of Student Affairs at San Diego State University for 37 years, is a dedicated volunteer and has served on both the College Area Community Council and the College Area Community Planning Board. Doug has also held numerous board positions with the San Diego Democrats for Equality, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/San Diego, Campus Pride, and the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

Doug would also like to remind us to support Pro Tem Atkins’ Socks Drive for Stand Down for homeless veterans. You can bring socks to the meeting, as well as locations around San Diego. More details here.

We’re back at our regular venue for this month’s Council of Clubs thanks to Nate Fairman and IBEW Local 465. If anybody needs a ride to get to the meeting just let John know and he’ll try to connect you with somebody else driving from your area of the county.

June 5th brought some pleasant surprises as well as some disappointments up and down the state. We didn’t lock ourselves out of Congressional races, but we have some candidates who weren’t favored by Democratic clubs. What we do next will have a large bearing on November’s races.

Save the date. July 22, from 12-4pm at Campland on Mission Bay. All candidates, campaigns and their volunteers are invited for a United Lunch – thanks to Rancho Santa Fe Democratic Club President Michael Gelfand.

Here’s a PDF to share with your club on the 2018 Post Primary Landscape.

We’ll also discuss what to expect at Tuesday’s Central Committee Meeting on Juneteenth.

Best countywide result this election cycle!

Emiliana Sparaco and SEIU 221 successfully collected enough signatures to get a proposition on the November ballot to move the San Diego County races to the General Election in November. Thanks to all the club members who took part in this effort.
As always if you have questions, suggestions, or constructive comments please communicate them to me, your Director of Clubs, or bring them to the Council of Clubs.

Upcoming Program suggestions for 2018:

  • Ranked Choice Voting – San Francisco, Oakland and the State of Maine – how about Democratic Clubs in San Diego County?
  • Chartering – streamlining the process, 2-year charters, club manual, helping new clubs
  • Keeping Track of Members – online lists, emails, payments, one-stop processing
  • Running for boards and commissions, why and how

Remember! This month’s Council of Clubs meeting takes place at:
IBEW Local 465, 7444 Trade St, San Diego, CA 92121 (map)


May 2018 – Leadership development – how to be a better President or Executive Officer

This month’s Council of Clubs features a presentation from Steve Rivera on Leadership development – how to be a better President or Executive Officer.

We’ve changed our venue for this month’s Council of Clubs as Nate Fairman has Shop Stewards Training. We’ll be back to IBEW Local 465 in June through the rest of the year. For this month we’re at Elijah’s Restaurant, 7061 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111 (map).

Many of you received an email last week purportedly from the Executive Board of the San Diego County Democratic Party. I did not support sending the letter and I propose we discuss positive steps we can take to address all of the concerns raised.

GO Team is in full motion with club members canvassing a record number of voters using MiniVAN on their smartphones. Learn how easy it is to walk your precinct and upload data without harming any trees!

We’ve extended the website to list every club endorsement in the county and to make it easy to search endorsements by club, candidate and race. We need your help to enter your clubs endorsements, and to check they are accurate.



As always if you have questions, suggestions, or constructive comments please communicate them to me, your Director of Clubs, or bring them to the Council of Clubs.

Upcoming Programs for 2018:

  • Robert’s Rules of Order – hearing the minority – Doug Case
    Chartering – streamlining the process, 2-year charters, club manual
  • Keeping Track of Members – online lists, emails, payments, one-stop processing
  • Remember! This month’s Council of Clubs meeting takes place at:

Elijah’s Restaurant, 7061 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111 (map)

April 2018 – Growing the Capacity of Your Club

SEIU Local 221
4004 Kearny Mesa Rd
San Diego, CA 92123

Growing the Capacity of Your Club

  • Andrea Beth Damsky, San Diego Progressive Democratic Club
  • Susan Peinado, Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County
  • Yahairah Aristy, La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club  
  • Gary Bland, Lake San Marcos Democratic Club