ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LEE COUNTY
There are over 100,000 citizens of Lee County who have registered as Democrats voters because they believe in the principles and ideals of the Democratic Party. Those principles and ideals include the right of all people to have freedom of expression, religion and the pursuit of happiness as well as a quality education, a clean and safe environment, a secure and healthy future, a fair living wage, secure retirement, equal opportunity, and access to quality health care. Although we are less than 30 percent of the registered voters, together we can make our voices heard and our votes count in local, state, and national elections.
The Party’s governing body is the Democratic Executive Committee (DEC). The members of the DEC are elected precinct committeemen and committeewomen who represent one of the 171 precincts in Lee County. In addition, there are members appointed by the Chair so the total membership reflects the demographics of the county. Local elected Democrat office holders are automatic members as well as the presidents of Democratic organizations residing in the county.
The DEC meets once a calendar quarter for the purpose of conducting business. On those months without a business meeting, the DEC sponsors special meetings to discuss issues or to conduct training. The meetings are held in the County Commissioners’ chambers of the Old Court House on the fourth Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. The Chair may call additional meetings provided that members are given ten days written notice outlining the purpose of the meeting. All meetings of the Democratic Party are open and all registered Democrats have a standing invitation to attend.
The Steering Committee, which includes the officers, the chairs of the standing committees, and the five district coordinators, administers the policies and affairs of the DEC. Between meetings of the DEC, it has the authority to make decisions for the DEC. The Steering Committee meets on the second Wednesday of the month at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Lee County located at 1924 Park Meadows Dr. in Fort Myers at 7:00 p.m.
The DEC uses a committee structure that encourages participation of its members. The Steering Committee works with six standing committees and special or ad hoc committees as needed. The standing committees are: the Membership and Credentials Committee, the Finance and Fund-raising Committee, Candidate Recruitment and Appointment Committee, the Young Democrats Committee, the Audit Committee, and the Affirmative Action Committee. Special committees established by standing rules are: the Campaign Committee, the Communications Committee, and the Informational Technology Committee. To ensure that the committees reflect the views of a cross section of the county, committees with five or more members are composed of representatives from all five County Commission Districts.
The office of precinct committeeperson is the most important position in the Democratic Party. A precinct committeeperson is a Democratic Party official at the local level elected by the Democratic voters of the precinct to serve as the Democratic Party leader in the precinct. The precinct committee person’s primary responsibility is to get as many Democrats and other voters in the precinct to vote for Democratic candidates.
By statute, precincts with less than 1,000 registered voters can have a precinct committeeman and a precinct committeewoman; precinct with over 1,000 registered voters have two precinct committeemen and two precinct committeewomen. All except 13 of the 171 precincts in Lee County have more than 1,000 registered voters. Thus, the total number of precincts positions in Lee County is 658.
Precinct committeemen and committeewomen are elected every four years at the time of the presidential elections. Precinct positions that are not filled in the election or positions that are vacated for whatever reason can be filled by an election by the majority vote of the DEC members at a quarterly or special meeting called for that purpose.
Indicator of Strength
It is important to fill these vacancies because one indicator of the strength of the Democratic Party in Lee County is the number of precinct positions filled. Thus, the ongoing challenge for the DEC is to fill vacant positions and train the incumbents to organize their precincts to get out the Democratic vote at election time. The Membership and Credentials Committee is primarily responsible for filling vacancies and for providing precinct committeemen and committeewomen with the tools to do their job.
Assisting the Membership and Credentials Committee in carrying out its responsibilities are District Coordinators who are elected by their peers at a district caucus. District Coordinators help fill vacant positions but their primary task is to support the precinct committeemen and committeewo men in their districts. That support includes seeing that the committeemen and committeewomen have undated precinct organization manuals, instructing in all areas encompassed in the manual, and providing them with their precinct voter lists.
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