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  • Kalamazoo, MI

2.1.20 Nine Months to Victory—Let’s Get Started!

We have just nine short months to work toward victory on November 3rd. It’ll take all of us to win this election and take our country back. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and jump in! 

Become a KCDP Neighborhood Captain!

It’s the best way you can make a real difference. Elections are won or lost neighborhood by neighborhood. With active Neighborhood Captains, we will get higher voter turnout. (Remember, Trump took Michigan by just two votes per neighborhood.) 

We need KCDP Neighborhood Captains in every precinct in Kalamazoo County. Every blue vote counts, even in deep-red precincts!

As a Neighborhood Captain, your work is 100% flexible. Give whatever amount of time works for you; a little is better than none! You can work alone, with a buddy, or with a team of your neighbors and friends. There are things you can start doing right now, and of course we’ll have plenty to do this summer and fall.  

Also important to know: You’ll be reaching out to strong and leaning Dems and Independents (not Republicans). And you’ll get training, supplies and ongoing support from KCDP!  

Recruit a buddy or build a whole team, if you wish

You may decide to ask neighbors, friends and co-workers to help you mobilize your neighborhood. They don’t have to live in your precinct. Most of us could name a dozen folks would be eager to pitch in! With more people, you can reach more voters. 

What does a Neighborhood Captain do?

–Make sure your neighbors are registered to vote and get them on the Permanent Absentee Voter List so they’re more likely to vote (Absentee Voting will be HUGE for the Democratic Party this year)

–Sign people up to to volunteer

–Distribute info about issues and Dem candidates 

–Help turn out the vote to get Democrats elected up and down the ticket!

Here’s how 

Research shows that face-to-face interactions have the most impact on voters. So we’ll encourage Neighborhood Captains to knock Dem and Independent voters’ doors in their neighborhood. You can go by yourself or with a partner, and training is provided. You can drop off a postcard introducing yourself and give them absentee ballot info.   

If you want to do more, you can! 

–You could also host a postcard-writing party at your house or a nearby coffee shop

–Organize a phone bank or text bank (training and supplies provided)

–Like, follow, and share Dem posts and pages on social media (we’ll help you find the ones that make a difference)

–Join KCDP-hosted phone banks, text banks, and door-knocking efforts to larger voter pools or in other neighborhoods, if you wish

We will respect your time and comfort zone and welcome whatever and however much you can do to help get Democrats elected! 

A quick word about Precinct Delegates

Precinct Delegates are elected to office primarily to vote at the Party’s county and state conventions. A prospective Delegate’s name will appear on the Democratic ballot in his or her precinct for the August 4th State Primary Election. There’s rarely competition, and Delegates can be elected with a single vote! After you get comfortable with your Neighborhood Captain work, you may decide you’d also like to become a Precinct Delegate. If you do, KCDP will give you the info you need.  

Join us to see if this volunteer opportunity is right for you! 

Saturday, February 22, 9:30 – 11 am

Tuesday, February 25, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Saturday, March 21, 9:30 – 11 am

Thursday, March 26, 6:30 – 8 pm

KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008

Bring a friend and check it out! Questions? Contact Jenny Snyder, corresponding@kzoodems.com or call/text 269-929-8888. If you plan to come, please let us know so we have enough supplies. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

Contribute to our Campaign Fund!

It’s 2020 and the real work begins. Thanks to you and our other supporters, we started this year on a very solid financial footing, which has allowed us to hit the ground running. We are more organized and energized than ever, but to win in November, we need to raise another $125,000 this year… and early money means we can do more, sooner. 

Join us in our efforts with a contribution today! Donate online at secure.actblue.com/donate/donatekcdp or mail a check to the KCDP at PO Box 2466, Kalamazoo, MI 49003. Your contribution will help support candidates, maintain our office, and pay for essential communication with members and voters. And, thanks!

Get on it!
The Permanent Absentee Voter List

Your city or township clerk may have mailed a form inviting you to get on their Permanent Absentee Voter List. If yours hasn’t, give them a call or stop by their office. Not sure who/where your clerk is? Click “Your Clerk” at the Michigan Voter Information Center site.  

Why get on the permanent list?

It makes voting super easy! After you return your request, you’ll get an application for an absentee ballot in your mailbox before every election. (In off years, it’s a great reminder to vote.) 

Then you can return the application to get your ballot in the mail, OR you can opt to recycle the application and vote in person at your polling place instead. Your choice, every election! 

Absentee Voting is tremendously powerful for Democrats—and democracy—because it encourages voting by folks who have trouble making it to the polls.

Help others vote absentee!

KCDP is hosting Phone/Text Banks every Saturday in February to contact people about getting on the permanent absentee ballot list. Join us from noon to 2 pm at the KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008. Bring a tablet or laptop; your charger; and a smile! Training will be provided. Questions? info@kzoodems.com. See the Facebook event for more information.

Help us register new voters! 

History shows that when more people vote, Democrats win. So we’re registering as many new voters as we can. Join us! 

Wednesdays & Fridays, 4 – 6 pm

Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose Street

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12 – 2 pm

Bernhard Student Center at WMU

Come for as long as you can…as many times as you can! Training is provided. Dress warmly; we’ll be outside. RSVP to Michael Kohler, kohler@dccc.org or text (309) 368-9123, to make sure we have enough supplies. Hope to see you there!

Voter Rights Update: Good News!

By Lee Kirk

A state appeals court on January 27 upheld a lower court decision that struck down major portions of a law that would have made it more difficult for citizens to launch ballot initiatives in Michigan. 

The law, passed by Republicans during the 2018 lame-duck session of the Legislature, imposed a 15 percent limit on the number of signatures ballot petitioners could gather from any one of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts. It also required petitioners to sign an affidavit indicating whether they’re paid or volunteer and display that designation on petitions.

The court struck down all three requirements, ruling they impose unconstitutional burdens on those signing and circulating ballot initiatives. The ruling largely affirmed a lower court’s decision issued last year.

Here’s your sign! 
“Hate Has No Home Here”  

Stop by the KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008, to get your sign for a suggested donation of $10. 

KCDP Office Hours—February

Monday: 9-12

Tuesday: 9-3

Wednesday: 9-8

Thursday: 9-3

Friday: 12-3

Saturday: 10-2

County clerk, prosecutor and treasurer are key to 10 years of fair elections!
Why Democratic seats on the Apportionment Commission are critical

The state’s new citizen’s redistricting commission will bring about fair, unbiased political district lines at the congressional and state levels beginning in 2022. But county-level districts are not safe from the threat of partisan gerrymandering.

Why? Counties in Michigan with more than 70,000 people (like Kalamazoo) have an Apportionment Commission that draws district lines for county commission seats in the year following each census.This commission is made up of just five people:

County Democratic Party Chair

County Republican Party Chair 

County Clerk (Currently Tim Snow, R)

County Prosecutor (Currently Jeff Getting, D)

County Treasurer (Currently Mary Balkema, R)

In Kalamazoo County, Republicans have dominated the redistricting process and drawn commission lines to benefit their party and incumbents. The result of the 2020 election for Kalamazoo County clerk, prosecutor and treasurer will determine whether we see fair district lines for the next 10 years! 

It’s imperative that we pay close attention to these county-wide races. We must win these seats with Democratic candidates who have a track record of standing up for Democratic values. 

So tell your neighbors how important it is to gain Dem seats on the Apportionment Commission, and campaign hard for your Democratic clerk, prosecutor, and treasurer candidates! 

For more information on how the county redistricting process works, see this helpful resource put out by League of Women Voters during the last redistricting process.

It’s time for Michigan to join Maine with ranked-choice voting

By State Rep. Jon Hoadley, 60th House District

For many people, Election Day is a cause for dread rather than celebration. Too often, we feel as if we’re going to the ballot box to choose the “lesser of two evils” or to cast our vote against the candidate we oppose rather than for the candidate we support. With this cynical view of voting, it’s no wonder so many people disengage with the political process.

The solution to this centuries-old problem isn’t actually as complicated as you might think—and it’s one that can trace some of its early roots right to Kalamazoo: ranked-choice voting.

Read Jon’s whole article here.  

Live in a township? Run for Trustee!

We’re looking for Democratic candidates for Trustee seats in almost every township in Kalamazoo County! Increasing our presence on township boards gives us a stronger voice on community issues. And having Dems in every race helps build voter enthusiasm, which bubbles up the ticket to elect Democrats to county-wide and state offices, too! 

Remember, every blue vote counts, even in deep-red districts! 

If you’re interested in running or know someone who might be, please reach out to KCDP Chair Margy Belchak, kcdp-chair@kzoodems.com, or text/call Margy at (312) 848-0225. KCDP will provide training and resources to help you run a successful campaign! 

Help local Dems run! 

Did you know that by joining KCDP, you’ll help local Dems run for office? This spring, we’re hiring staff to support candidates with a host of services. This costs money! To help, join and donate to KCDP here! Please consider a recurring membership of just $10 per month.  

KCDP officers elected

At KCDP’s regular “Third Thursday” meeting in January, County Committee members elected several new officers.  

Congratulations to (L-R) Treasurer Nicky Leigh, Chair Margy Belchak, 1st Vice Chair Vince Lavieri, Trustee Shardae Chambers, Trustee Joe Hawver, and 2nd Vice Chair Eponine Garrod. 

They join continuing members of our Executive Committee: Recording Secretary Wendy Flora, Corresponding Secretary Jenny Snyder, and Trustees Mark Miller and Melissa Fish.

KCDP committee chairs named

We are pleased to announce several new committee chairs:

Candidate and Campaign Support Committee – Maria Phelps, manager@kzoodems.com

Diversity and Inclusion Committee – Cory King, diversity@kzoodems.com

Membership Committee – Jan Mazei, membership@kzoodems.com

And we thank our continuing committee chairs:

Bylaws Committee – Mark Miller, mark.edward.miller55@gmail.com 

Communications Committee – Gary Sigman, communications@kzoodems.com 

Facilities Committee – Betsy Rice, facility@kzoodems.com 

Fundraising Committee – Margy Belchak, fundraising@kzoodems.com

Volunteer Committee – Jenny Snyder and Pam Gilchrist, volunteer@kzoodems.com 

To get involved in the work of a KCDP committee, email its chair for information. 

Meet our Volunteer of the Month—Nicky Leigh

She was hooked when…

“I’ve always been a Democrat. It’s what I heard growing up at family discussions—Eisenhower vs. Stevenson, Kennedy vs. Nixon, etc. What are their values? Who helps the most? But I wasn’t active with the Party until around 2006, and then I became a Trustee in Silt, Colorado, in 2008.”

Why volunteer?

“Time or tithe: I never had the money to buy anyone’s service, so I have to do it myself. I have volunteered mainstream or been involved with ‘activist’ groups since the 60s. Anti-war, gay rights, women’s rights, immigrants/refugee rights, minority rights, Black Lives Matter. Everything changes but it also stays the same. At our current rallies and marches, us older folks are always grumbling that, after 50 years, we’re still demonstrating for the same rights. If I don’t volunteer and try to change the system, I don’t have the right to grumble and complain.”

Something you may not know about Nicky…

“My mother was a Jewish refugee from Austria who made it to England before the war. I was born in England, and we came here in 1951 as UN Refugees. So I’m anti-war, pro-immigrant/refugee rights, pro-minority rights, and pro-women’s rights by birth. I grew up in New York City, went to college in Ohio, lived in northwest Connecticut, western Colorado, Florida (Orlando) and Kalamazoo. I’m gay—married in Canada, and divorced in the US. That took a while, since to get divorced, first marriage had to become legal! I have a daughter and grandson who live here in Kalamazoo. That about sums it up. Specifics upon request.”

Poll workers needed!

This could be you, getting involved in our democratic process in an interesting and important way! 

More than 400 new poll workers are needed in Kalamazoo County. They are paid for election days and for the training they attend. Pay rates are set by each city and township—usually around $150 for every long day’s work! Call your clerk for more info. 

If possible, you should be available to work at elections on March 10, May 5, August 4, and November 3, but it’s not a requirement to be available on all dates. To learn more, read the articles in our January newsletter.

You can get an application form online at the Michigan Voter Information Center. Complete and return it as soon as possible to your city or township clerk.

See our website calendar for details about KCDP events.

Help us Register Voters, every week: Wednesdays & Fridays, 4 – 6 pm, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St. Kalamazoo, MI 49007 and Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12 – 2 pm, Bernhard Student Center at WMU. Come for as long as you can…as many times as you can! Training is provided. Dress warmly; we’ll be outside. RSVP to Michael Kohler, kohler@dccc.org or text (309) 368-9123, to make sure we have enough supplies.

Phone/Text Banks, every Saturday in February, noon – 2pm, KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008. We’ll be contacting people about getting on the permanent absentee ballot list. Bring a tablet or laptop, a friend and a smile! Training provided. Questions? info@kzoodems.com

KCDP’s monthly “Third Thursday” County Committee meeting, February 20, 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  a business meeting to follow—come for any portion of the meeting you choose, free of charge; no reservation necessary. Everyone is welcome. Order dinner or just a beverage and join us! Questions? info@kzoodems.com.

District Committee Meeting, hosted by the Michigan Sixth District Democrats, KCDP and the Allegan, Berrien, and Van Buren County parties, Saturday, February 22, 10am – noon, Paw Paw District Library, 609 W. Michigan Ave., Paw Paw, MI 49079. 

Neighborhood Captain Info Sessions, Saturday, February 22, 9:30 – 11 am, Tuesday, February 25, 6:30 – 8 pm, Saturday, March 21, 9:30 – 11 am and Thursday, March 26, 6:30 – 8 pm at the KCDP office, 3254 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work to win in November! KCDP is looking for Neighborhood Captains to head up grassroots voter outreach, street by street within their precincts. For details, read the article in this newsletter and come to an Info Session to see if this opportunity is right for you! Questions and RSVPs to Jenny Snyder, corresponding@kzoodems.com or call/text 269-929-8888.

Joe Hawver

“Democrats fight for working people. Democrats fight for equity and civil rights. Democrats fight for universal health care and public education. Democrats fight for the marginalized, the oppressed and forgotten people among us. Democrats fight for equality. Democrats fight for the dignity of every person, especially undocumented persons living under the constant fear of family separation. Democrats welcome refugees. Democrats fight for better wages, benefits and working conditions for each person. Democrats fight for democracy and voting rights. Democrats fight for the animals, ecosystem and earth that gives us life. Democrats fight for a million other issues I haven’t mentioned. But each issue Democrats fight for expands the inheritance of human rights in the world. 

“Democrats fight for everything right. Democrats fight for everything we hope for our children and the future of humans and the planet. Democrats fight for the good in all of us. 

“That’s why I am a Democrat.” 

Connect with KCDP 

Send newsletter content to Jennifer Snyder: newsletter@kzoodems.com

Did a friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here. A few back issues are here.  

You can join the KCDP here. Send KCDP membership questions to Jan Mazei: membership@kzoodems.com.

Sign up to volunteer here.

Follow and share our Facebook page. 

And remember to stay in touch on our website

Thanks for reading!