THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LEE COUNTY
There are over 100,000 citizens of Lee County who have registered as Democrats 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 127 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. Our objectives are to register as many Democrats within the county as possible; during campaign seasons, to identify voters supportive of Democratic candidates; and to ensure the highest possible base Democratic voter turnouts in all elections held within the county.
Every two years, the newly elected precinct committeewomen and committeemen elect a county Chair and a Vice Chair of the opposite sex, an Executive Secretary, a Recording Secretary, and a Treasurer. They serve a term of two years and can be reelected. In addition, a State Committeeman and a State Committeewoman are elected for a four year term. The seven officers plus a Parliamentarian, appointed by the Chair, are responsible for conducting the affairs of the Democratic Party in Lee County in conformity with the Charter and Bylaws of the Florida Democratic Party,
The DEC meets at least 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 Room 103 at the Edwards Building, 10051 MacGregor Blvd. Fort Myers 33919, unless otherwise advised. Meetings are held on the fourth Monday of the month designated 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 and the chairs of the standing committees, 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 Monday of the designated month at the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Lee County located at the Edwards Building 10051 Macgregor Blvd. Suite 101 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 & Technology Committee.
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 127 precincts in Lee County have more than 1,000 registered voters.
FILLING PRECINCT POSITIONS
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.
A limited number of At-Large Members may be appointed by the DEC Chair, subject to approval by a majority of members present and voting at an official DEC meeting. They enjoy such voting and other privileges as if elected from precincts.
Presidents of Lee County Democratic Clubs and chartered local Democratic Caucus Chapters are Automatic Members, as are state and countywide Democratic elected officials. Automatics Members enjoy votings privileges, but may not serve as officers of the DEC.
Honorary Members may be recommended by any officer or Steering Committee member, but must be approved by two thirds (2/3) of the members of the DEC present and voting. They exercise all powers of membership except the right to vote.
Emeritus Members are loyal Democrats with a history of distinguished service who are no longer able to participate on a regular basis, They have no voting privileges, are not required to meet attendance requirements, and are not computed when determining a quorum.
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.
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