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12.3.19 A packed calendar, friendly faces & voter news

Dems don’t take time off over the holidays! In fact, our December calendar is packed full. Read on for event details and voting rights news. But first, an update…. 

15 years later, the office is opening—again! 

Kalamazoo County Democratic Party headquarters opened at its current location in 2004, when Jennifer Granholm was running for governor. “At that time, we were the only county that had a permanent office in the state of Michigan,” says longtime KCDP volunteer Cathy Hosner. Most offices operated only during election run-ups.

“Our new office was quite an improvement over the pop-up offices we had in years before,” she adds, noting that building at 3254 S. Westnedge Ave. was chosen for its accessibility on a main road near downtown and on a bus line. 

A group of prominent local supporters calling itself the “Bucket Brigade” quietly raised funds for the office. And a number of faithful volunteers, including Cathy and her husband, Ken Hosner, Carol Heflin, Ann and the late Ed LaForge, Cheri Bell, and Ron and Nancy Crowell gave generously of their time and talents to furnish and organize the new building.  

Hosner remembers that the Carpenters Union Local 525 donated and installed the reception desk and that the LaForges donated our refrigerator—“which is still there!” Also still there, and still capturing attention in the lobby, is a display of presidential campaign memorabilia donated by the Hosners, who are nationally known collectors. The desk prompts history questions and conversation when visitors stop in.  

Volunteer Committee Co-chair Pam Gilchrist schedules staff for our iconic front desk. 

Home, sweet home

KCDP was fortunate to have an excellent sublessee this year—their rent checks fortified our 2020 war chest. But now we’ve moved back in! On December 1st, volunteers resettled the boxes of “stuff” that have been in storage. It feels great to have full use of our space again—in time to gear up for the big year ahead.

KCDP holiday office hours

Through December 21: Mon – Fri, 9 am to 5 pm (closed Fri, Dec. 6)

Office closed Dec. 22 – Jan. 5. 

Office reopens Jan. 6. 

Voting rights update

By Lee Kirk

U.S. District Judge Janet Neff issued an Opinion on November 25th that allows the Secretary of State to continue to put an independent redistricting commission in place to draw new congressional and state legislative districts once the 2020 census is completed. The commission was created after more than 61% of the voters approved Proposal 2 in the 2018 general election. The Republican party and individual Plaintiffs filed separate but similar lawsuits earlier this year asking the court to hold that Proposal 2 violated their First Amendment rights.

In her decision,the judge denied Plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have barred the Secretary of State from implementing the requirements of Proposal 2 into effect. Most importantly, she held that the Plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of success on ANY of their claims.

While her ruling is not a final decision, her ruling makes it clear that Plaintiffs are facing an uphill fight. We can expect an appeal of this ruling to be filed in the federal court of appeals, but this decision is a big, big win for our state and our democracy. To read the opinion, click here. 

Redistricting Commission info sessions

By Melissa Zinn, Kalamazoo County Field Director, Voters Not Politicians

Thanks to the 61 percent of Michigan voters who voted yes on Proposal 2 last fall, the days of gerrymandering will soon come to an end in Michigan, and the power to draw voting district lines will reside with an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

Who can be on the Commission? You can! You must be a registered voter, and a few restrictions do apply—see page 2 of the application booklet. You can fill out the application online, but you must print it, get it notarized, and mail it in. The application deadline is June 1, 2020. The Secretary of State offers free notary services at branch offices and at Michigan.gov/FreeNotary. 

Voters Not Politicians is also offering free notary services at its upcoming application workshops in the Kalamazoo area, including

Dec. 7 – Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007, 1-3pm

Dec. 9 – El Concilio, 930 Lake St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001, 6-8pm.

For more information contact melissalzinn@gmail.com

Margaret DeRitter

She was hooked when…

“I saw as a child how the people we elect as our leaders can have very positive or detrimental effects on national and world affairs. On the one hand was passage of the Civil Rights Act, and on the other was the Vietnam War. I was in junior high school when I made a speech opposing the war, and I also watched the Watergate hearings every day during the summer when I was 16. I had to forego political activism for 30 years while I was working full time as a journalist, but the first presidential election year after I stopped working at the Kalamazoo Gazette (2012) I covered my front yard with political campaign signs.”

Why volunteer?

“The only way we will ever be able to expand health care coverage, implement reasonable gun control, address climate change, and stop border separations of families is if we elect candidates who support our values. That starts at the local level, and winning over local voters can translate into winning back control of the U.S. Senate and electing a Democratic president. That’s why I’ve knocked on doors and made innumerable phone calls to encourage people to vote for and donate to Democratic candidates.”

Something you may not know about Margaret … 

“My first full-length poetry collection, ‘Singing Back to the Sirens,’ will be published in March by Unsolicited Press. It has nothing to do with politics, although I do sometimes write political poems.”

We had a great crowd for the second annual KCDP Women’s Luncheon at Theo & Stacy’s on November 8. Speakers included Betsy Rice, Mary Brown, Alisa Parker, Meredith Place, Stephanie Moore, and Barb Hammon. Thank you to Hadlee Robinson and Betsy Rice for organizing this successful event! 

See the KCDP website calendar for details

Phone-banking for year-end fundraising, Wednesday, December 11, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Bring a charged cell phone and come for as long as you can! Training provided. Questions? Fundraising@kzoodems.com.

Wrap-it-Up! Open Houses: Saturday, December 14, noon – 4 pm and Wednesday, December 18, 3 – 8 pm, KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Drop off your holiday gifts to be wrapped at our festive gatherings on two dates. Pick them up later or stay to chat and enjoy cookies and warm cider! Donations appreciated but not required. We’ll have paper and bows on-hand; bring your own if you wish. Nothing larger than an airline carry-on bag, and please bring irregular items already boxed. You may drop off food donations for delivery to Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes too! Questions? volunteer@kzoodems.com.

KCDP Holiday Party—free of charge! Rescheduled to Wednesday, December 18, 6 – 9 pm, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 357, 11847 Shaver Road, Schoolcraft, MI 49087. Celebrate the holidays and our 2019 successes with your fellow Democrat “snowflakes” and friends at this family-friendly event. Free lasagna dinner and drinks included. Enjoy live music and chat with our celebrity bartenders, elected officials and candidates. Donations and sponsorships welcomed at  https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kcdpholiday This party takes the place of our regular monthly “Third Thursday” meeting in December. Questions? fundraising@kzoodems.com.

2020 Kickoff: Wednesday, January 8 at KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Details TBA.

“Third Thursday” meeting, January 16, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, Traveler’s Cafe and Pub, 5225 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49001. Speaker (TBA) from 5:30 – 6:30 pm, with business meeting and officer election to follow, from 6:30 – 8 pm. Free of charge; no reservation necessary. Order dinner, just a beverage, or nothing at all, but do join us! Questions? Email info@kzoodems.com.

Sue Kovats-Bell

“The things that I value in life, and try my best to live by, come from the heart and soul of the Christian faith, “To love your neighbor as yourself,” Matthew 19:19. I believe the ideals of the Democratic Party are in closest alignment to best support and advocate this way of life. 

“Is everything perfect within this party? No. However, from my perspective and beliefs, the inherent ideals and elected legislators from this party best represent who I am, and what I want to see happen to achieve the local, national, and global changes that help to make our world of neighbors a better place to live for ALL!”