By Zoe Dunning
Alice Board, Co-Chair
I’m exited to write my first column as Alice Co-Chair, and honored and humbled to serve alongside my fellow Co-Chair Ron Flynn. I would like to extend my gratitude to my predecessor, Martha Knutzen, and thank her for her dedication and leadership to this club and the Democratic Party over many years. I am glad to have her wisdom and advice as she continues on in the role of Immediate Past Co-Chair of Alice.
This first column is both a tribute to Alice’s rich history as well as a call for your engagement as we look forward to 2014.
As a member or ally, you have probably attended one of our membership meetings, or come to our annual Pride Breakfast we produce every June on Pride Sunday. You might not know, though, that this club was the first registered LGBT Democratic Club in the nation. Alice was founded in 1971 by Jim Foster, a gay rights activist who had been organizing to elect pro-gay candidates in San Francisco for several years. Until that time, there had been some gay and lesbian advocacy groups, but gay political goals had never been incorporated directly into the platform of a major American political party. Foster chartered Alice to initiate gay advocacy within the Democratic Party and led the way for many more LGBT Democratic Clubs across the country. The club has a proud tradition and, of course, it all happened right here in San Francisco.
My friends who are not as politically active ask, why become involved in a Democratic Club, or an LGBT one at that? Well, because public policy impacts every one of us. Every candidate elected to represent us, and every ballot measure that gets approved by the voters makes a difference in our daily lives. Decisions regarding our drinking water, our educational policies, our LGBT youth and seniors, our parks and our taxes, in addition to dozens of other issues, are left to the voters and our elected officials. Democratic clubs play a vital part in organizing like-minded citizens with a specific interest – a neighborhood, a demographic – and using their collective power to endorse candidates and initiatives. These clubs support their endorsees with direct mail, field volunteers and phone banks to help them win on election day. In the past few years alone, Alice members have walked hundreds of precincts and even written personalized post cards reminding targeted registered voters to get out and vote for the club’s endorsees. It’s because of Alice’s strength in helping its endorsees win at the ballot that it has established a well-earned reputation as one of the most influential and effective Democratic Clubs in the city and in the state. We do this all with a volunteer board and with the generous contributions of money and time from members like you.
I’m excited about what 2014 has ahead for us – a competitive Assembly District 17 race, five incumbent Supervisors up for reelection, and what appears will become a robust list of state and local ballot measures. I hope you will join us in 2014 by getting involved in our club’s activities and supporting Alice. Together we can give our community that critically important “seat at the table”. Because as Missouri State Senator Jolie Justus likes to say, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” I hope to see you at an Alice membership meeting soon!