Chair’s Corner: monthly business meetings – the work of democracy

Photo by clarita at

As a local political party, the Tongass Democrats has to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work if there are going to be Democrats on the ballot. I’ve written in the past about what we do in our State Central Committee, but this week I thought it might be interesting to talk about what we do locally to maintain an infrastructure that supports Democratic candidates and elected officials in between elections.

Most of this “work of democracy” gets done in our monthly business meetings, and as an example of what happens at these meetings, here’s a rundown of what we did last Thursday. 

Great attendance
We had to add extra tables and chairs this month because of an unexpectedly great turnout on a beautiful sunny night in Juneau!

As with almost all of our meetings, there were some introductions of newcomers. The first time someone comes, we ask them for their name and if they attended the 2016 caucus.

This is important because attending the caucus is one of two ways to be eligible to vote when we have a motion on something (the other is to attend two consecutive meetings).

Routine business
Like most organizations, our first task is to adopt our past meeting minutes and hear reports from the Chair, Treasurer, and members of the State party’s Executive and State Central Committees. This keeps me and our other officers accountable, and it keeps members up-to-date on our overall business.

Standing Committee reports
We have two standing committees: Website and Strategic Planning.

Our Website Committee came about following the dismal November 2016 election, with a goal make our website a place for those interested in Democratic ideals — independents, non-partisans, progressives, and liberals — to get timely, accurate and in-depth information about the local Democratic party; local, state, and national political activity; and a variety of topics with a progressive political bent.

We heard an update on the website’s status, usage, and upcoming plans. Speaking of which: please email with your ideas of topics we should cover and/or information we should include on our site. is for all of us!

Our Strategic Planning Committee is not new but has stepped up its work on the party’s primary goal: electing progressive candidates at all levels of government.

The committee chair reported that the committee is currently drafting a Juneau-centric platform, similar to the ADP’s Party Platform (.pdf version), but focused on issues directly related to Juneau and our northern southeast region.  The committee is also working on an outreach plan to engage and partner with other like-minded organizations to establish local “coffee and conversation” gatherings to discuss topics such as education, health care, equality, labor, the environment, gerrymandering – topics near and dear to a progressive’s heart!

Year of Kindness Front Street Clinic collection project
Plans are coming together for the Tongass Democrats’ part of Juneau’s 2017 Year of Kindness initiative. We selected the week of August 7-11 to hold a collection drive for Juneau’s Front Street Clinic, which provides health care without regard to a patient’s ability to pay. If you’d like to help out, email

Precinct organization effort
We discussed a new initiative by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Alaska Democratic Party (ADP): precinct organization.

The State Party is currently organized at the House District level. But because so many of Alaska’s House districts are not geographically connected, it makes sense for many District organizations to organize at the precinct or community level so there can be organization and outreach in non-geographically connected districts around  the state.

We will continue the conversation at our August 3 meeting. If you’ve got an opinion or would like to participate in precinct organization, please be sure to attend.

Our legislative leadership joined us
Our Democratic delegation – Senator Egan, Rep. Kito, and Rep. Parish – attend our meetings when their schedules allow. Rep. Parish joined us Thursday and shared one primary message: the Alaska Legislature has got to pass a long-term fiscal plan, and it must be based on the House Majority Coalition’s budget proposal — of a broad-based, balanced, and fair budget — not the Senate majority’s proposed “use our savings and hope oil revenues increase” budget plan.

If you haven’t heard it, check out the House Majority Coalition’s July 6 press availability for details on the Coalition’s work on HB 111, the only bill remaining on the Governor’s special session call, regarding oil and gas production taxes, payments and credits, a critical part of a long-term budget plan.

As referred to in the press availability, here’s Senate President Pete Kelly’s July 4 Op-ed. Clearly the Senate Majority’s plan is incomplete. Just ending cash payments to the oil companies won’t fix Alaska’s budget. There must be more to the package: reforming oil taxes, restructuring the Alaska Permanent Fund, and reinstating a broad-based income tax.

Rep. Parish asked everyone to continue contacting our representatives and demand they support the House Majority Coalition’s plan. It’s the only sensible plan on the table. I encourage our readers to do the same.

We finished up at 7:15pm, slightly later than our normal 7pm end time, but we had so much to talk about!

If you reside in House District 33 or 34, are a registered Democrat, non-partisan, or undeclared, or attended the 2017 Democratic Caucus, you are welcome to attend our monthly meetings. If you reside in House District 33 but outside Juneau and want to participate telephonically, please contact me. We’ll make it happen.

Again, we meet the first Thursday of every month, 5:15pm at the IBEW Hall, 813 W. 12th Street in downtown Juneau. Please join us August 3 and be part of our mission to elect progressive candidates!

Until next week…
Nancy Courtney
Chair, Tongass Democrats
(907) 321-2285

Opinions in this article are those of the author and do not represent official positions of or the Tongass Democrats. 

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