State Committee Meeting
The word document can be found here
Christian Fyke—Interim State Chair of Pennsylvania
Benjamin Valimont—Interim Secretary
Kyle DeMarino—Interim Vice-Chair of Eastern Pennsylvania
Héctor Diaz—Interim Vice-Chair of Central Pennsylvania
Brian McMurray—Interim Vice-Chair of Western Pennsylvania
Brian McMurray—Interim Vice-Chair of Western Pennsylvania
- Brian McMurray’s E-Mail
Brian McMurray was attending the Pittsburgh Penguins games & could not make the meeting. However, he sent an e-mail to Chairman Fyke containing several updates & agenda items. The first of which was his plans to hold a meet up in eastern Allegheny before the Special Elections on February 7. The location of the event is to be held at Grist Grounds Coffee Shop.
- Political Party Equality Act
Part of Brian’s email contained some information on the Political Party Equality Act. This had been brought up in the Discord earlier at which time Secretary Valimont stated he had reviewed it as well. This is an act proposed by a group calling themselves The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition (https://politicalpartyequality.org/index.html) which claims it is comprised of several of the third parties in Pennsylvania seeks reforms that would make the nomination process & ballot access in Pennsylvania uniform between the major parties & third parties.
Secretary Valimont, however, pointed out that there was a major problem with the act; namely that it seeks to do away with primaries & allow all parties to name the candidates by their own party rules. Inevitably this would be creating a system in which party bosses decide who will be the candidates. Whoever we decide to be our liaison to the other third parties needs to inform them that unless they change what the act would do to primaries, we cannot support it. This would run counter to our goal of creating a non-partisan final five primary.
- Keystone Party
Brian had also talked with Gus from the Keystone Party to see where our two parties can work together. Gus suggested that there are many areas that we can work together & he embraces many of our ideals. It sounds like he is very interested in bringing our organizations together. We should promote learning more about the Keystone Party and why they left the Libertarian Party. But we need to know whether or not if they are just an ally or if there is a merger opportunity with them.
BallotPA is setting up another petition to repeal closed primaries. Ballot PA is a project of the Committee of Seventy and is a growing coalition of civic, community and business organizations committed to open and free elections in Pennsylvania that lead to responsive and accountable government. Most notably they are the leading voice in Pennsylvania to repeal our closed primaries. As such, they are asking our members to sign their petition. Secretary Valimont mentioned that he signed their petition during the previous legislative session & noted how automatic & user friendly their system was.
Rachel asked the question of what they want to replace it with. Secretary Valimont stated that in the previous session they were vocal supporters of former Representative Quinn’s bill that would have made it so that independents could vote in the primary of their choice.
Although that bill did not create non-partisan primaries, Secretary Valimont noted the statement made by David Thornburgh, the President & CEO of the Committee of Seventy, during his testimony before the State Committee considering Quinn’s bill. Mr. Thornburgh called himself a stubborn Pennsylvanian. He takes one step at a time. He was there to talk about the proposal in question. House Bill 1369 was before them now and he remained laser focused on getting it passed.
- Pennsylvania Forward Party Status
For the people on the call who had not been on the previous call, we went over our current party status. Pennsylvania Forward Party is not yet a Political Body. We are holding off on becoming one because once we do, we will no longer get financial support from National. This is due to the fact that National’s status right now is that of a PAC & not a political party. National did provide us with a memorandum stating the timeline we are looking at to become a Political Body.
This topic, with the candidate training, was revisited at the end of the meeting after Chair DeMarino had joined the call. There are several people thinking about ruining for municipal offices in the Eastern Region & they need to know what Pennsylvania Forward can do now & during their runs. Chairman Fyke went over the training sessions that were discussed in Section 3 Advisory Report.
Depending on how long it takes us to become a Political Party, it may affect the races we pursue in 2023. If the Pennsylvania Forward Party has not become a Political Body by the end of March, some candidates may want to opt for an independent run. One of the big legal hurdles, as stated before, because National is currently classified as a PAC, when we become a Political Body, we will be cut off from them financially. We need to be fully independent when we do so.
- Advisory Report
Ethan Demme has been one of our major advisors. Chairman Fyke has been meeting with Ethan every other Friday. During their last meeting, Ethan reported that he is starting to have more time to devote to the Pennsylvania Forward Party. Mr. Demme had been the state lead of Pennsylvania for the Serve America Movement (SAM). Unfortunately, a series of events had prevented Mr. Demme from participating more fully with the Forward Party. He now has enough time to help advise individuals from the leadership team (or people that could be). He also wants to be a resource for the leadership team as a whole. Mr. Demme has been in the political arena his whole career & expected to run for office this year but for his other time commitments.
Mr. Demme also wants to kick off a training series for candidates. Anyone who might consider running, we want to do a once a month training session beginning in March. We also want to use this for our collaboration efforts with other groups.
In that regard we do need to start seeking candidates to run for office. It may take a person a whole year to decide if they want to really run for office. We want them to sit through these classes to help them determine if they want to run next year or not—especially if we want to build a ticket around a set of candidates.
Rachel asked how that would work & Secretary Valimont noted that in Pennsylvania, Political Bodies & Minor Parties can use the same nomination papers for a slate of candidates as long as they are all within the same district. This is very useful for the statewide offices, this is most likely the method the Keystone Party used to put up candidates in the last election for Governor, Senator, and all the other state wide offices. This way the signatures are applied to all the candidates instead of just one. Just to be clear, this is just to get on the November ballot.
Secretary Valimont also noted that there is a local government academy that is an independent non-partisan organization promoting excellence in local government(https://localgovernmentacademy.org/). Each year, Local Government Academy offers approximately 30 educational programs, including day and evening classroom-style programs, round-table discussions and webinars.
Courtney did not have an update on when our stuff would be ready from legal, but there were some big things that came up that she could not talk about at the moment. These things caused a slight delay for us, but the National team has met to discuss Pennsylvania.
National is kicking off the messaging working group that will be about ten to fifteen state leads with several members of the national leadership council. They will be working on messaging & getting us some easier to swallow talking points.
In a couple of weeks, National will be providing best practices for state leads, defining what is a state lead, & characteristics of state leads. Finally, they will begin to implement background checks. Furthermore, Nation Builder, the program used to build the Forward Party website, will also be getting some new tools that will be beneficial to our purposes.
A question was posed of how do we find out which races will be open when. Courtney stated that this will have to be done by someone in the Pennsylvania team who loves wonky research. This most likely be Secretary Valimont. He did state that we need to be aware that Pennsylvania has a lot of municipalities. In Allegheny County alone, there are one hundred thirty municipalities (https://apps.alleghenycounty.us/website/munimap.asp). This is a project that needs to be done county by county. One volunteer can not do all of this—we will need to prioritization.
- Team Reports
Communications—There is a January blast e-mail ready to go for the General meeting on the 23rd. Other than that, there has not been much action on this team since the past meeting. They have been sharing news stories particularly about the new PA House Speaker.
Research—The new legislative session has begun in the General Assembly. As the communications team stated, the new speaker is claiming to be independent. If the Special Elections of February 7 go as expected, that would mean the Pennsylvania House has 101 Republicans, 101 Democrats, & 1 independent—the speaker. The House committees have not been assigned yet, but the Senate state committee has already begun to work on bills. These are both senate bills & are not being impeded with the Speaker controversy in the house. The first bill, SB 1, would require voters to provide valid identification in order to vote in an election. The second bill, SB 130, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to require the General Assembly pass legislation to audit elections and the results. Secretary Valimont is not aware of any bills so far, this legislative session for open primaries, ranked choice voting, or independent redistricting reform.
At the Statewide meeting on the January 23, Secretary Valimont will see the interest in doing scorecards this year. Secretary Valimont will probably update the ones we completed last year as most of that work will be done on Nationbuilder.
Chairmen Fyke suggest that Secretary Valimont provide a few names we could have our members contact so that they could ask for bills on these subjects.
Finance—Neither Jack nor Tim, are in attendance tonight. Chairman Fyke gave their report. Both were in the drop-in session on Monday & were seeking to recruit more members of the fundraising/finance committee. They did have one taker, Bill Jones who has been a voice in our Framework Sessions. He ran for office down in Alabama in the past. He plans on getting involved much more this year.
Bylaws—There hasn’t been many updates since the workshop that took place the Monday before Christmas. This was mainly due to the holidays taking up everyone’s schedules. Both Chair Diaz & Secretary Valimont were waiting for tonight’s State Committee meeting to set up another workshop. When we are ready with a final version the bylaws will be submitted to several members (if not the all of the members) of the Pennsylvania Forward Party for comment. After that we will submit it to National’s legal department so that they can tear it up.
The next workshop was setup to be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 7:00 PM.
Organizing—Brian is looking to get event for eastern Allegheny County in the next few weeks. Chairman Fyke stated that he would like to start seeing an in person event in the state each month. He would like to see two a month but one at a minimum. We need to inspire members even outside of leadership to start hosting these events.
The debate that Chair Diaz has been planning has continued to be obstructed by the Director of Civic engagement at his alma mater. She will disappear for weeks on end. He might even show up during her office hours & wait there to meet with her. If that doesn’t work, he will start looking for another venue to host the debate. Ethan knows the owner of brewery that might let the debate be held there.
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