Officers Election 2019 – Candidate Statements

Positions: (all members vote on all positions, except Vice Chair*)

Statewide Officers (5)

Chair

Vice Chair (To be elected by our Regional Chairs*)

Secretary/Parliamentarian

Treasurer

Communications Officer

Regional Officers (10)

1 – Northern Coastal Regional Chair
2 – Northern Regional Chair
3 – North Central Regional Chair (Open Write-in)
4 – Bay Area Regional Chair
5 – Gold Country Regional Chair
6 – Central Regional Chair
7 – Central Coast Regional Chair
8 – South Central Regional Chair
9 – South Coast Regional Chair (Open Write-in)
10 – Inland Empire/Desert Regional Chair

To see your region, click here.

Officer Candidates and their Statements

Chair

Joy Sterling

Joy Sterling, for Re-Election as Rural Caucus Chair

I have loved every minute serving as Rural Caucus Chair these past 15 months. It has been an exhilarating and very gratifying experience. I hope you will give me the chance to continue to work with you. 2020 looms large and we have much to accomplish. I would be honored to have your vote and ultimately your partnership in moving forward.

As you know, I wear many hats: I am CEO of my family’s winery, Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County. I am serving my second term on the State Board of Food and Agriculture, appointed by Jerry Brown, and am the Board’s lead on Rural Broadband. I have been named to the California Broadband Council (CBC) Advisory Task Force and the California Emerging Technology (CETF) Advisory Group. And, most recently I am honored to be named Co-Chair of the CDP Legislation Committee. I will continue to be a conduit between these statewide conversations and the CDP Rural Caucus, so our voice is always at the table and we remain in the loop. As I hope you have come to learn, I have a very high bar for tenacity, building relationships and collaboration.

One of my top personal priorities is Broadband Equity.  I feel very strongly that if there is one thing we can do for our rural communities it is: deliver universal, high speed Internet. So much will flow from that. I am very excited to be part of a team developing a statewide broadband plan to put on the Governor’s desk.

I am also on a mission to speak with every legislator who will listen about passing legislation this year to ensure clean and affordable drinking water for all.

We have no shortage of rural specific issues to address: fire resiliency, Lowell Young’s resolution to bring PG&E under state control, turning more attention to sheriffs’ races, especially those who do not support the State’s sanctuary law, and the same for Water District elections, to bring a knowledgeable, strong rural voice to key decisions about our water.

We need to grow the Caucus membership and build on our momentum by re-engaging all the great volunteers who made us so successful in the midterms. Hard as it is to believe, the California Primary is less than a year away.
The Caucus deserves a passionate and high energy, hardworking Chair, who will work collaboratively with our members and CDP leadership to build a stronger rural voice within the Party, garner the tools and resources we need to win in 2020, and help our Rural Caucus Regional Chairs effectively network around the state.

The Rural Caucus has made tremendous strides, and I promise to keep us moving forward. By building bridges, unifying coalitions, cross-pollinating experiences, information and successes and engaging our elected leaders, I am confident we can continue to build a stronger base of rural Democrats and expand Party investment in our counties.

I pledge to be a relentless advocate for all rural interests and concerns and look forward to your input and partnership around the state.

I hope I have earned your support and trust. I respectfully ask for your vote for re-election as Chair of our Rural Caucus.

 

Secretary

Victor Azevedo Costa

My name is a Victor Azevedo Costa and I am running to be the next Secretary/Parliamentarian for the CDP Rural Caucus. I was born and raised in the Central Valley as a first-generation college student and son of immigrants, where supporting community and fighting injustices has been my core values since my formative years. My passion for political activism was ignited through my involvement in student government. As an elected statewide officer for the Student Senate for Community Colleges, representing the 2.3 million students in the system, I focused my efforts on advocating for more student representation in the shared governance process and lobbying for policies that benefitted our marginalized student groups. This opportunity opened the door and allowed me to hone my focus on investing in community organizing and working on political campaigns throughout California.

As Secretary/Parliamentarian, I will ensure that we are in compliance of our governing documents, streamline dissemination of relevant information, work with Executive Officers to look into improving and/or expanding our governance structure, and increase transparency for the Rural Caucus. Rural communities are constantly overlooked in the political system, including our own party. Despite this, it is crucial for us to expand our influence to protect us from legislation that will harm more than benefit, elect bold Democrats willing to reverse conservative policies that have damaged our communities for decades, and prioritize solutions that cater to our problems rather than one-size-fits-all solutions.

I look forward to all of us working together and hope to earn your vote for Secretary/Parliamentarian!

 

Treasurer

Elizabeth “Lise” Talbott

I am a lifelong Democrat committed to ensuring that the Party handles all matters, includes its finances, ethically and with integrity. I welcome all opportunities to put my MBA to good use. I am the current Treasurer for the Stanislaus County Democratic Central Committee, and have many years of experience with Treasurer duties for several nonprofits. I value clean recordkeeping, transparency and strong financial management. I’m proud to have passed all audits from my various Treasurer roles with zero findings, and have helped other organizations get their financial records in order.

In addition to my Treasurer experience, I also hold a number of leadership positions: Waterford City Councilmember (Stanislaus County); AD12 EBoard Delegate; Central Valley Democratic Club, Political Activities Chair.

 

Michael Duran

I spent a week in Kings County, during the 2018 Midterms, as the Volunteer Voter Protection Attorney for the CA 21st CD.  My work was, as always, self funded and again I took vacation time to do it.  I worked with campaign staff and volunteers, both local and many others from the Bay Area.  TJ Cox defeated the incumbent by less than a thousand votes.

I believe that the path back to national power runs through the middle of the country, especially rural America.  I know that if we can articulate a vision for a better future for those left behind, and if we can then, as a Party, deliver on that emerging narrative, the country will be stronger.

We must protect the gains made in places like Hanford, Lancaster and Delano.  We can expand our victories and vote out remaining G.O.P. House members in California.

I am committed to that work and ask for a chance to serve as the CA Rural Caucus Treasurer.

I am a long time volunteer beginning with McGovern ’72 and volunteering in every presidential election since then.  I have often volunteered in Midterm, State and local elections at other times.

In 2017 I was named an alternate to the L.A. Co. Dem. Party.  I attend those meetings.  In 2016 I spent just over a week doing voter protection work in Durham, N.C.  My wife joined me the night before the General Election.  In 2013 I did the same work on Election Day in Fairfax, VA.  In 2012 my wife and I flew out to Virginia to protect the vote in Charlottesville, VA on Election Day.
I am a proud Democrat and know ours is Party of the majority of all Americans.

 

Communications Officer

Hilary Hodge

Now, more than ever, we need our fellow Californians and our policy makers to understand rural America, our values, and our needs.  We have resources and farmland but crumbling infrastructure.  We have hardworking communities but few jobs. We have neighborhood watch groups and volunteer firefighters because resources for our service personnel are limited.  We have incredible community organizations but lack funding. We are resourceful without resources.

I believe the Democratic Party reflects our values in Rural California. My goal is to ensure our needs are heard and understood. It is time that we are legislated for, not legislated to.

This is why I am running to be the Communications Officer of the California Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus. I believe in rural values and understand the need for rural representation in organizing, policy making, politics, and in communication.

My goal is to bring a powerful voice to the Rural Caucus of the California Democratic Party, to help amplify the work of small towns and rural communities, and to ensure consistent and clear messaging with our membership. I will maintain a relationship with our constituency and our communities, build bridges with city-centric allies and urban communities, and ensure that the Rural Caucus is heard.

I am a marketing professional, living in Nevada County, California.  I specialize in Social Media Marketing Management and have a foundation in traditional media relations. I’m a former columnist for The Union, our local newspaper. I have a background in Public Relations and Media Outreach, so my connections to television, print reporters, and other media professionals could be beneficial to the Rural Caucus. My expertise is in cutting-edge media technology and communication trends. I also maintain a connection with traditional communication practices and techniques.

A background in both traditional media relations and digital communications is essential to getting our message across in the 21st century.  Rural communities are on the forefront of the digital divide but we shouldn’t get left behind.

My bachelor’s degree is in English Literature from UC Davis.  I serve on the board of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce. I am a member of the Nevada County Democratic Central Committee and a delegate to the state party.

I would be honored to share my expertise and serve as the Communications Officer of the California Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus.

 

North Coast Regional Chair

Logan Harvey

My name is Logan Harvey and I would be honored to represent the North Coast as a regional officer in the Rural Caucus. I was born and raised in Sonoma and currently serve as a member of the Sonoma City Council. I am a lifelong Democrat an received the endorsement of the Democratic Party, the Sierra Club, the North Bay Labor Council, Teamsters 665, and the Sonoma Index Tribune/Press Democrat during my successful race for Sonoma City Council.

My background and current office have given me a good understanding of the issues that rural areas face and how we must be represented differently than urbanized areas. I ran on a platform of balancing tourism with local life, protecting open space, and promoting affordable housing. As a rural caucus regional chair I would work to promote the issues of clean drinking water, broadband access for all, affordable housing, and support for rural hospitals.

I would be honored if you support me, Logan Harvey, to be your Northern Coastal Regional Chair for the California Democratic Party’s Rural Caucus.

 

Northern Regional Chair

Elizabeth Betancourt

As a lifelong active Democrat, my pride at the success of our state in implementing policies emphasizing values of equity and transparency has only grown as I have become more aware their connection to our everyday life as Californians. These values are central to the California Democratic Party’s platform. However, as a rural voter since 2011, I have grown more and more disappointed in the way rural voices are incorporated into the Party as well as into California’s policymaking process… despite the attention our resources get. Natural and working landscapes, sustainable forestry, water-retaining meadows, and natural infrastructure all embody the rural physicality, and are elements of recent policy shifts, but the people who live here are not included in those policies.

As a state employee for nearly four years, I’ve noticed that policies made for rural landscapes are made by individuals from large metropolitan areas, with little to no experience on the land. We in California are proud of our iconic rural landscapes, and yet much of rural California feels separate from Sacramento. My husband and I own a small farm in Shasta County. I represent rural interests, and will promote our inclusion in the Democratic Party platform, including economic policy that doesn’t leave behind the 80% of California that is rural: part of the state’s essential adaptive and mitigative response to climate pressures.

In my nearly 20 years in climate adaptation and resources management, I have helped small communities and larger regions to become more sustainable and self-sufficient. Much of my work has been with Native American Tribes; these first Californians are marginalized,and have never been recognized for the essential role they play in healthy landscapes. Tribal interests must be represented; it is in our best interest that all Californians be recognized and respected.

These issues must begin with the Democratic Party, and the Rural Caucus is a natural starting point for the conversation. We must bring to the forefront some of the challenges we face as rural communities during the election season, including the high cost of running a campaign in 11 counties rather than a portion of one; the challenge of reaching voters who have been ignored by the Democratic Party for a decade or more; and working with a state government that generally doesn’t understand or respond to the issues of the rural voter. As the Northern Regional Chair for the Rural Caucus I look forward to working with rural inhabitants throughout the region to develop common-sense policies for consideration by the Rural Caucus and Party as a whole.

 

North Central Regional Chair

Open Write-in

 

Bay Area Regional Chair

Renee Zelmer

My motivation for running for Bay Area Regional Chair of the Rural Caucus is two-fold:

(1) Although I live in the Bay Area, rural issues are relevant in our region! I live in the Town of Moraga, a community with ranch land and vineyards. Broadband coverage, water quality, fire danger from open space and densely forested areas present ongoing challenges and threats.

(2) I believe I can contribute to the Rural Caucus through my experience, strong work ethic and network.

I currently serve as Chair the Economic Opportunity Council, which is the Community Action Agency or anti-poverty fighting agency of Contra Costa County. Most Community Action Agencies are located in rural areas. Through quarterly meetings with my counterparts, we discuss needs of the poor and underserved throughout the state. At recent public hearings, I was surprised to learn that displaced residents of Butte and Lake counties are among the homeless in Contra Costa.

As a trained legislative and policy analyst, I have worked on environmental issues, healthcare access, broadband issues, economic development, youth and family services and senior needs. I served two terms on the League of California Cities Board of Directors and was Director of the League’s Recreation, Parks and Community Services Department. During my tenure, medical marijuana and the role and impact on cities were a key topic of study and discussion.

During the 2018 election cycle, I partnered with labor councils and organizations, health advocates, and in district and out-of-district activist groups to help with the effort to flip CD10 and CD21.

When I volunteer for a job, you can count on me. Since first elected as an ADEM in 2017, I have been a member of the Rural Caucus. At the 2018 convention, I gladly stepped up to volunteer with check-in and sign-ups at the general Rural Caucus meeting.

I will serve you well as the Bay Area Regional Chair of the Rural Caucus. I hope I can count on your vote.

Thank you.

 

Gold Country Regional Chair

Amy Champ

I am excited to run for Regional Vice Chair for Gold Country, CDP Rural Caucus for term 2019-2021. I am working primarily in the area of community college, vocational education, related research on rural issues and training young people to serve in jobs related to rural needs–healthcare, forestry, tourism, farming, green energy–and economic development and empowerment in the Central Sierra. I currently occupy this seat, and I would love to keep serving the Democrats of my region by supporting our candidates, staying connected to rural issues at the state party level, and advocating for our needs at the legislature. We need an advocate who will fight for the Central Sierra and that is what I will do. Thank you for your support!

 

Barbara Farkas

My focus as a member of the Rural Caucus is Voter Education and Collaborative Problem Solving. As a 40 year resident of the “Gold Country”, with two recent Associate degrees in Forestry and Natural Resources from Columbia College, my education contributes to community through emphasis on conservation, and forest restoration. My community activism has been directed towards safety, health, education and rural community wellness. Through participation in the Rural Caucus Water Study Group, and collaborative efforts for accessing Broadband Internet for our rural residents, I have a solid understanding of the importance of networking and good communication.  Our Rural Communities are also concerned about Fire Safety and cancellation of Homeowner’s Insurance Policies, both problems that require solutions coming from our Rural Caucus members working together.

I am also excited about finding new ways to, “get out the Rural Vote”, and to widen the spectrum of Democratic voters. For 2020, there is no doubt that we need to start early by listening to Non-Voters and to No Party Preference voters, hearing their concerns about what WE can do to secure their Vote. Our rural voters must also believe that we are stronger by working together, than we are by being divided, and that Democrats in Sacramento and Washington D.C. work to represent us.

As the Gold Country Rural Caucus Chair, I will work hard to enhance our Rural Community’s successes and represent your voices within the Rural Caucus at large.

A Vote for Barbara Farkas, as the Rural Caucus Gold Country Chair, is a Vote for Community First!

 

Central Regional Chair

Joe A. Souza

I am a long time Democrat and resident of the Central Region. I have Serve on the Stanislaus County Democratic Central Committee as a member, treasurer, Vice Chair and Chair. I am currently Co-Chair of the Turlock Democratic Club. I understand the needs of the rural caucus and have lived for 43 years on our 40-acre ranch. I understand that within the Democratic Party we have a Big Tent and believe that all views should be heard.

 

Juan Vazquez

My name is Juan Pablo Vazquez And I have been a activist since 2015.

I have organized multiple events that helped get rid of Jeff Denham in CA10 including:

One of the largest protest in front of  Denham’s office with over 225 people.

Modesto March for Science with over 250 people.

Modesto Immigrants March with over 200 people.

Canvases in CA10

I have also worked along with the CA10 Progressive Alliance and other community organization to organize dozens of event including:

La Lucha Sigue March from Merced to Modesto (49 miles)

Bird dogging Jeff Denham

Mass protest @ Jeff Denham Town Hall

Multiple Vigils

And so many more.

 

Central Coast Regional Chair

Glenn Glazer

I have served the Caucus, not just as a representative of my region, but with bylaws revisions, elections and successful challenge defenses. On behalf of the caucus, I have pursued rural broadband and PG&E takeover resolutions in concert with other members of the caucus.  The long, slow tasks those represent have only just begun and I am seeking re-election to continue those fights on behalf of rural Californians.

 

South Central Regional Chair

Susan Rowe

Welcome CDP Rural Caucus Members! My name is Susan Rowe. I am running for re-election as South Central Regional Chair of the CDP Rural Caucus. It has been an honor to serve you the past two years and to also represent you the other Regional Chairs as the CDP Rural Caucus’ Vice Chair. I have been an active Member of the Rural Caucus since 2007. I am a dedicated, hardworking progressive volunteer and have served in this position for the last 10 years. I would appreciate your support and your vote for my re-election. To learn more about me and my campaign please go here: https://tinyurl.com/SusanRoweRegionalChair Let’s get more CA Rural Democrats Elected!

South Coast Regional Chair

Open Write-in

Inland Empire/Desert Regional Chair

Resa Barillas

I live in the High Desert and the concerns of our community are unique but widely unaddressed and unsupported by our Republican legislators. While they grandstand about gas taxes, our neighbors struggle to find work within the community. While they lament equal rights, our LGBTQ and POC kids feel unsafe in their schools. And it can’t go on. Our region within the California Democratic Party is undervoiced, and so few activists among us have the capacity to take on more than our existing commitments. And that’s why I want to run for IE/Desert Region Chair. Our community needs to have a voice and I want to work with other communities like mine who need the same. We can all raise each other’s voices by hearing each other and working together, acknowledging what we as rural communities experience in our day-to-day, in our work on the ground.

A few core issues affecting my community are:
– Water Rights (we’re home to the Cadiz water project!)
– Depleted jobs market
– Mass incarceration (we’re also home to the Adelanto Detention facility)

Please feel free to reach out with any questions.

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*SECTION 5:  ELECTION OF OFFICERS

  1.   Each officer shall be elected for a term beginning when they are sworn in at the Rural Caucus Regular Election meeting and ending after the newly elected Officers are sworn in as an outcome of the election at the following Rural Caucus Regular Election.
  2.  Officers elected mid-term at a Special Election shall complete the remaining term of the office
  3.  All Officers shall be elected by the entire membership of The Caucus, except the Vice Chair.
  4. The newly elected Regional Chairs shall elect the Vice Chair from among their number who qualify.
  5.  All voting for The Caucuses Officers shall be by ballot.
  6.  Member dues must be paid or waived prior to voting.
  7. Except for the Vice Chair position, the election process shall be governed by “Election Rules and Procedures” adopted by the members and included as special rules in “Addendum 1” to these Bylaws.
  8. No later than 30 days following the Regular Election, the Chair shall call a Vice Chair election meeting providing 7 to 10 days’ notice and will accept nominations from Regional Chairs to be included on the slate of candidates for the position of Vice Chair.  The Regional Chairs shall elect the Vice Chair by a majority vote from said slate. The vote count shall be recorded specific as to how each Officer voted and published with the minutes.