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Local Democrats vote for state delegates


Alex Glanville/special to the town crier
Hillview Community Center was full of attentive voters listening to candidate speeches. More than 40 individuals ran for 14 delegate spots to attend the state Democratic Convention in May.

More than 700 people from State Assembly District 24 stood in the rain Jan. 7, waiting to enter Hillview Community Center and vote for local delegates to the 2017 California Democrats State Convention.

Voters selected seven men and seven women to represent the district at May’s state convention. According to Alyson Abramowitz, convener for the day, 775 Democrats voted for the delegates. Margaret Okuzumi was elected to the executive board of the state Democratic Party.

Abramowitz said she expected more than 1,000 people to attend. Lenny Siegel, a Mountain View city councilman who won a delegate spot, said beforehand he was less optimistic.

“When we had the caucuses for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, people were paying attention,” Siegel said. “But the Raiders are playing on Saturday.”

The split in the Democratic Party between Clinton’s and Sanders’ visions for the party was visible at the event. Outside Hillview, several self-described “Bernie-crats” distributed fliers for the candidates they supported. Several of those candidates were different from those endorsed by the Democratic Party.

“This is not a huge ideological split,” Siegel said. “But the people I’m working with see that the party does not implement its platform because some of our elected officials are beholden to major financial interests.”

The consensus of the day was that Silicon Valley Democrats envision state politics as a way to promote a national agenda.

“People like me believe that for the Democratic Party to take on the Republicans nationally, we have to reinvigorate it,” Siegel said.

Abramowitz was largely in agreement.

“California may be a place where we both need to be against Trump and also in support of continuing our continued services for our constituents,” she said.

Repeated attempts to reach officials at the Republican Party of California were not returned.

Shay Franco-Clausen – endorsed by the Bernie-crats, State Sen. Jerry Hill and the Democratic Club of Sunnyvale – received more votes than any other female delegate. She said she was “excited to explore and improve our Democratic Party.”

“It is time for the people’s voice to be heard through the delegates,” Franco-Clausen said.

Her wife Yolanda and their three children were integral to her campaigning Jan. 7. The Franco-Clausens put campaign stickers on coffee cups handed out to voters by the Grassroots Slate, a self-organized group of delegates who, as Siegel said, “are ideological in the sense that we are weaning the Democratic Party from big money” along the lines of Sanders’ 2016 campaign.

For Franco-Clausen, getting children involved is part of the democratic process.

“This is how you teach kids to be included,” she said. “You involve them.”

Newly elected District 24 Assemblyman Marc Berman was in the crowd with several of the delegates he endorsed.

“There is clearly a strong grassroots effort to recommit the Democratic Party to its progressive ideals,” Berman said in a later statement.

In addition to Franco-Clausen and Okuzumi, female delegates include Sally Lieber, Jackie Wheeler, Elspeth Farmer, Amy Pearl and Emily Ramos. In addition to Siegel, the male delegates are Lucas Ramirez, Cory Wolbach, Mehdi Alhassani, Steve Chessin, Johannes Muenzel and Kenneth Carpenter.

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