Democrats are organizing to impact the 2018 primary elections and strengthen the Democratic Party after an increase in support for the group following the November election.
“The Green Dems were meeting regularly and there were about six to ten people meeting every month in Tasty Diner. Every month after the Nov 8 election, attendance went up,” said their president, Sheldon Fishman.
The “Green Dems”, as Fishman describes the group, welcomed the new attendees and used the momentum to update their strategic framework.
“They were welcomed and they have come in and we have a new logo and a new Facebook page and new bylaws and we have started collecting dues for the first time in 3 years,” said Fishman. “We’re building up a base and giving people a platform to share their information,” said Fishman.
The group has updated their infrastructure with a goal in mind: They are priming for an effort to gain political influence.
“We are trying to impact the primary elections,” said Fishman. “Our goal is to put together a scorecard and maybe have debates.”
The group is also encouraging members to become involved and one of their own is running in the 2018 election.
“In order to impact the county democrats, we decided to encourage our members to become precinct officials,” said Fishman.
The program director, Danielle Meitiv, better known as the ‘FreeRange Mom’, announced her run for county council at large two weeks ago. She is running as a Democrat, has a progressive platform that takes a strong environmental position and believes that the Democratic Party can be effective in Montgomery County.
“I think there’s a lot of things we can do locally. Most of the actions that impact climate happen at the local level,” she said.
However, Meitiv says that Democrats need to work hard to gain ground on the Republican party. “The Dems have really slacked off in [building their party]. We’ve lost 1000 seats. The only way we’re going to get those back is by building the party,” she said.
As such, the goals of the Green Dems are to work with activists and from within to strengthen the Democratic Party. They are also networking with other various progressive and democratic groups, according to Meitiv.
“This fall, we are planning along with the association of Black Democrats, to hold an environmental justice summit,” said Meitiv.
The opportunity to use new technology to spread their message has been another cause of an increase in community involvement.
“Online presence is critical” for community involvement said Danielle Metiv, the program’s director. “We are definitely relying a lot more on Facebook. It’s how a lot of people found out about our meetings.”
However, the group has been around for long before Facebook.
The Green Dems have been around since at least 1990, according to Will Friedman, a member of the club who made his first dues payment in 1998.
“We have survived, going on 30 years,” he said.
However, with the expansion of the club and increased community involvement, the group has been able to expand beyond their simple beginnings.
“At the beginning, I recall we did things like cleaning up streams and playgrounds and we did things like that,” said Friedman.
Now, they have different tools, and their goals are broader.
“The goal is to bring environmental sensibility into the democratic party, bring democrats into the environmental movement,” said Meitiv. “We’ve been working on highlighting different enviro challenges that we face locally”