Open Seat Victories


Last night the new New York County Democratic Committee met for the first time. MYD placed over 80 people on County Committee in 2013 and MYD President Benjamin Yee was elected to be the 3rd Vice Chair of the County Committee. But what does this all mean?

What have we accomplished?
A portion of MYD's 2013 County Committee contingent

2009: Five years ago MYD ran its first Open Seat Project. That year we put 60 young people on County Committee and held up our first meeting for nearly an hour by contesting the race for 3rd Vice-Chair when we nominated then President Al Benninghoff. Five years ago, I was Vice President of MYD; I didn’t know what County Committee was and, to be fair, they didn’t know what MYD was. We operated independently of each other out of nature. But after introducing a contested election MYD was well known. Vilified by some, it was also commended by many for its democratic efforts, including winning an award from our friends at Chelsea Reform Democrats the following year.
2011: Two years later, MYD ran the second Open Seat Project. We worked with the County Party and Democratic Clubs to get young Democrats involved in a way that helped everyone. We didn’t run anyone against County’s leadership picks, but that doesn’t mean we backed down. We fielded even more candidates than in 2009 and pushed for the re-establishment of the County Committee Youth Sub-Committee. A mouthful to be sure, but something concrete for which we’d been asking since 2009. Our good friends, District Leaders Jenifer Rajkumar and Paul Newell, chaired the committee.
2013: In a sense, we’ve come full circle. The contest which got us our reputation for grassroots activism in 2009 – the election of 3rd Vice Chair – was happily offered to the current President of Manhattan Young Democrats in recognition for all the help MYD has done electing Democrats. A young Democrat, Nico Minerva was elected Chair of the Party. But this is just the beginning.
At the end of last night’s meeting, a County Committee member came up to the MYD group taking a photo at the stage. While I don’t know exactly who that guy was, he was trying to point out to our group that the Rules Report was never actually ratified by the Committee. This isn’t true, mind you, I’m pretty sure we passed that report with a fairly unenthusiastic, but also uncontested, acclamation. 
The point, however, is that he was there because he saw a group of 50 people who were clearly part of something larger. If you looked around that room, out of a Committee of 2000+ seats, there weren’t that many people. And there was virtually no group as large as MYD’s. While this only became clear after we reassembled from our disparate districts, be absolutely confident that, with 50 of our 80 people actually showing up to a meeting, we represented an incredibly powerful voting bloc. And that is why he wanted to come over and talk to us.
Last night, the youngest Chair and Third Vice-Chairs I’ve ever seen serving in a Democratic establishment were elected. 
So, what did we accomplish? Young Democrats are being recognized as a force by the New York Democratic Party and they are taking us seriously. This election isn’t the end of our organizing, it’s the beginning of our leadership.