State Committee Meeting


6:00 PM

The word document of the meeting can be found here


Christian Fyke—Interim State Chair of Pennsylvania

Benjamin Valimont—Interim Secretary

Kyle DeMarino—Interim Regional Chair of Eastern Pennsylvania

Hector Diaz—Interim Regional Chair of Central Pennsylvania

Brian McMurray— Interim Regional Chair of Western Pennsylvania

Jack Merritt

Bill Jones

Cortney Hazen

Gabe McGuire

Rachael Shanok

Timothy Snyder

Christian Clark



Craig Snyder

Alex Upton

Matt Fogal





  1. Introduction


The first thing we did was to confirm the date of the next statewide meeting & it was decided that it would occur on March 27th. There was a potential for a special guest from National but they are busy both the 20th & 27th.


Joel said that the working group for the National Summit is also scheduled for that week as well.


Our schedule going forward will be our regular leadership meeting & in between will be a Gettysburg Summit planning meeting.


  1. Regions


It is becoming apparent that we need to recruit the vacant regional chairs in the near future. We don’t need to do so tonight. But we need to be filling those positions soon.


Secretary Valimont shared the proposed regions he recently came up with.



Chairman Fyke stated a concern that the Northwest Region is still rather large. Secretary Valimont stated that the Northwest is the least populated. This set up a discussion on what areas should be where. To decide the final borders, we may need to recruit the additional regional leaders. Secretary Valimont stated that this issue came up because the 108th PA House District is due to have a special election soon. If we want to have an event like we did in Allegheny County, we are going to need somebody much closer to Montour County.


  1. Elections

Chairman Fyke stated that this problem might be solved when with an election. He stated that we probably should hold elections for our officers before the Gettysburg summit.


Jack Merritt suggested that we appoint an internal election commissioner. First we will need to announce that we are having an election & open the offices up for nominations. We would then conduct the election & finalize the results prior to the summit. We may end up suggesting a slate of nominees as we may not have enough people to run a full election.


Chairman Fyke stated that we are at risk of criticism for our officers not being elected in a democratic way.


It was suggested that we may want to do the elections at the summit, but that would present the problem of members who will not be attending. Chair McMurray countered that we send out a blast e-mail to conduct the election in whole or in part.


Secretary Valimont posited the idea that we could make a call for nominees. If no one comes forward for our current officers, we could then make those officers face a retention vote. That way every officer would have the backing of the voting members of the Pennsylvania Forward Party.


Bill Jones stated that we should just call for nominations & then see who comes forward. Then we can either have an election or retention vote. We just need to get this issue settled as soon as possible.


Chairman Fyke suggested that Bill Jones take the reigns as the election commissioner as his position is appointed. Jack Merritt also decided to join with Bill to help him with the elections. The also said that they need to work with communications on this.


  1. Affiliation/Compliance


The affiliation agreement & compliance memorandum have not come in yet. With issues that popped up for National in the past week, it is understandable that they were delayed. We do not need to go into those issues tonight however.


  1. Team Reports


Eastern Region Update


Chair DeMarino had events to update the leadership team on but he did state that he was considering reformatting how they do their meetings. He did say that they should set a goal of one in-person meeting a month.


Central Region Update


Chair Diaz recently went to a political salon to scope out the happenings there & perhaps utilizing the model for our purposes. There Libertarians, Republicans, & Democrats all talking together on the topic of freedom of speech. Events like this would ensure that we are not only talking to like minded individuals. Chair Diaz is going to try to do something like this in his region. The name of this event was Gracious Space.


Western Region Update


Chair McMurray stated that there was no updates to announce.




Secretary Valimont stated that he had contacted one of his old law professors—Professor Joseph Mistick. He was very encouraging of our efforts & that he also sits on a board of “Keep our Republic” ( Secretary Valimont also attended the last March on Harrisburg meeting. They are still working on getting legislation that would allow Municipalities to enact Ranked Choice Voting.


Secretary Valimont also stated that we had our last bylaws workshop & that all the members of the leadership team should have received a copy. The secretary  invited the leadership team to submit comments & questions to him & stated that he would like to open the process up to all the members of the Pennsylvania Forward Party at the March meeting. We will also need to know when the National team will want a copy themselves to go over. We also had a discussion on whether we should include term limits into the bylaws but nothing was resolved during the meeting.


Moving on to a legislative update, Secretary Valimont noted that the Pennsylvania House is finally back in session. Representative Rozzi relinquished the speakership in favor of Representative McClintion. She is the first female speaker of color. As he stated earlier, the lady who represented the 108th District ran & won a special election to fill the Pennsylvania Senate seat in her county. As such, when she took her Senate seat, a vacancy was created in the 108th. When she resigned, the new speaker has ten (10 days).




Gabe convince the communications team to set up a tik-tok. They have also been moving towards more regular meetings. Christian Clarke also brought up that the sign-ups on Nation Builder had dried up a bit & was wondering if there was an issue. Chairman Fyke suggested that he contact Steven Hartman from National to see if there is a technical issue going on.




Tim Snyder took over the discussion on fundraising. He began by stating that he had not talked to National yet & was starting become frustrated with them. He sent word over a week ago that it was extremely important for them to have a conversation. Whatever we decide tonight will be tentative depending on the conversations with national. We understand that they are very busy but at the same time, we cannot ask for money ourselves until we get some of the answers we need from National.


It was also brought up that Chairman Fyke should apply to be on the seven-person planning group for the Denver Summit. From Tim’s conversations with other states, nobody is far into their fundraising plans.


Their plan is to first come to this body with their fundraising plan for approval. It should be noted that we are moving very fast for this fundraising drive, we need to get the plan approved as soon as possible.


Our target is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000). That is made up of the $5,000 minimum that National is asking us to give them for our two voting delegates. An additional $12,000 to pay for eight additional delegates. This funding amount assumes that the delegates pay for their own travel. Travel from Pennsylvania to Denver is running under $500.00 a ticket. If we are really successful in our fundraising & raise another $5,000. All in all, we are looking at Denver costing us $22,000 to send our full slate of delegates. We estimate Gettysburg will cost $8,000. That estimate is very preliminary & could be wildly off. However, putting Gettysburg on top of Denver gives us our $30,000 target.


Chair DeMarino noted that he may have a conflict of interest with his job if he gets too involved with fundraising.


The plan that the fundraising team proposed is to start top down & inside out. Inside out is to ask the board, in this case the leadership team, to pledge their donations first. Within a week or so, we need the leadership team to pledge a commitment to this fundraising team. We only ask that you give a gift that you are comfortable with—whether it is $100 or $10,000.


Tim stated that they are looking for individuals who could match $10,000 in other fundraising. The team came up with an initial list of three names: Mark Cuban; Silvester Salone; &

One of the first things we will be presenting to any potential donors is how much our leadership team in total pledged to give.


The first thing we need to determine, however, is how to give. We cannot ask anyone to give money if we can’t tell them how to do so. We know that initially it will involve sending money to national but how will we be credited with that amount. We also need to know if the 70/30 split will apply to the $1500 to send additional delegates to Denver.


A general rule in capital fundraising campaigns is that ten people almost always end up giving over half of the total raised. We need to identify the people with the capacity to give us $1,000 or $5,000. Chairman Fyke has indicated that there might be people with the legacy organizations that have given significant amounts to those organizations but haven’t given to the Forward organization yet. They might be quietly waiting in the wings to see what we do as an organization.


If you or you know of someone who could give a thousand dollars or more, please contact Tim & let him know before we present to the general population of the Pennsylvania Forward Party. It usually takes six months to solicit the board & another six months to solicit your top ten donors. It then takes another year to solicit the next thirty. We have to do everything in the next five weeks. Tim then asked if anyone was against the plan they laid out. No one object with most voicing their support of the plan. We do have time to identify a few people with deep pockets and contact them. The real challenge is contacting who you might know. Its not about asking people for money it is telling people the story of the Forward Party & then listening to them about what they like about it. Always remember to stay positive. Positivity raises money—negativity never does. The main motivation for people is that they want to be significant members of significant organizations. They want to be part of the solution.

  1. Candidate Training/Conclusion


At the end of the meeting, Secretary Valimont reminded the group that the first of the candidate training events is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday March 8, 2023. He also suggested sending out a blast e-mail if at all possible.



Benjamin Valimont


I am an advocate for democracy & making our government work for us.