Club Member Toni Atkins Continues to Make History!

Democrats for Equality,

Our members continue to make history, and one of our longtime club members has done it again!

Big news was mentioned early this morning by the L.A. Times, and was made official later by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León — our very own State Senator Toni Atkins has the unified backing of her colleagues to become the next leader of the California State Senate.

This is historic for a number of reasons.

As mentioned in the L.A. Times article, Toni Atkins will be the first woman to serve as President Pro Tem in California history, she will be the first LGBT leader of the state senate, and will be the first former Speaker of the Assembly in 146 years to serve as senate leader.

On behalf of all of our club members, we are so extremely proud today.

#Ourmembersmakehistory #womenlead #trustwomen #LGBTQ

Here is Kevin de León’s statement from earlier today:

“For nearly four years, it’s been a profound honor to lead a unified, progressive and collaborative California State Senate. Together, we’ve put the public interest over individual ambitions and made enduring progress on behalf of millions of Californians.

“Unfinished work remains – and so does our Senate’s important tradition of seamless and peaceful leadership transitions.

“To that end, I have announced to our Senate Democratic Caucus that a formal vote to elect our next Senate President pro Tempore will be held in early January and a formal transition later in the year.

“Better yet, I’m pleased to announce that our Caucus is unified in support for Senator Toni G. Atkins of San Diego to serve as our next President pro Tempore.

“We aren’t just making consensus – we’re making history.

“Four years ago, our Caucus elected the first Latino leader in over a century to lead the California State Senate – and, next year, Senator Atkins will become our first ever woman to be elected Senate Leader.

“Toni is a leader of great experience, achievement and integrity, and I have every confidence that she will lead America’s most accomplished legislative chamber to even greater heights.

“As always, I thank the members of the Senate for their confidence, camaraderie and unwavering commitment to the future of this state.

“Working together, I look forward to another year of extraordinary progress.”

Here is Toni Atkins’s statement from earlier today:

“Today, I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me, and I intend to earn that trust every day by working tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone.

“Kevin de León has led our Senate with strength, intelligence, integrity, and compassion – and continues to do so. Our collective policy achievements under his leadership have made our state a better place to live, work, raise a family, and attend school, regardless of race, religion, gender, or background.

“Given our national divisions, California’s example is more important than ever – and I look forward to working with our President pro Tem and all of our colleagues to ensure that the Senate continues to rise together to meet the challenges faced by the great people we represent.”

In Solidarity,

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Holiday Party Details!

Democrats for Equality,

Our annual Holiday Party is coming up NEXT SATURDAY! It’s potluck time, so join us Saturday, December 9 from 6-9pm at the home of Susan Guinn and Denice Feldhaus.

Please RSVP and let us know which dish you’d like to share on this form.

We are excited to join with fellow Dem Clubs throughout the county, including:

  • AAPI Democratic Club
  • Chicano Democratic Association
  • Clairemont Democratic Club
  • College Dems at San Diego State University
  • College Dems at UC San Diego
  • MLK Jr. Democratic Club
  • San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action
  • San Diego County Young Democrats
  • San Diego Muslim Democrats
  • San Diego Progressive Democratic Club
  • Veterans Democratic Club of San Diego County

The Enivro Dems are hosting their own holiday party earlier, but they were more than happy to join us and have this be their after party!

We want to encourage everyone who attends to bring diapers to help benefit Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher and San Diego County Building Trade’s Holiday Diaper Drive!

If you have any questions about our Holiday Potluck Party, please reach out to the club’s Operations Manager Emily Bonner at [email protected], or call 619-549-9585.

Finally, because our Holiday Party is held in lieu of a December meeting, our next club meeting will be Thursday, January 18th. It will be another big meeting as we will be considering endorsements for statewide races. So, mark your calendars accordingly.

In Solidarity.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Club Member Highlight: Jess Durfee

Jess Durfee has been engaged in Democratic Party politics and LGBT activism for over 30 years, the past 22 of those in San Diego.

Jess currently serves as the Chair of the Western Region Caucus of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He was elected to the Democratic National Committee in 2008 and re-elected in 2012 and 2016. He is one of only two elected DNC members in Southern California who does not live in Los Angeles County.

He served four terms (2004-2013) as Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party. During his tenure as Chair, the Democrats exceeded the Republicans by registration in the county and Barack Obama received 54% (2008) and 53% (2012) of the San Diego County vote for president. Under his leadership the SDCDP implemented the GO Team — a precinct leader program with around 1000 active volunteers.

He served as Co-Chair of the LGBT Caucus of the California Democratic Party from 2007-2011 and serves as the Lead Chair of the Voter Services Committee of the California Democratic Party.

In February of 2016, he was appointed to the California State Fair and Exposition Center Board by then-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. Since November of 2013, he has served on the City of San Diego SDCCU Stadium Advisory Board.

Campaign Flyer for Jess Durfee, DNC Western Caucus Chair

Jess held several positions with the San Diego Democratic Club (now known as the San Diego Democrats for Equality) where he served as president from 2001 through 2004. In 2003, he was a San Diego Pride honoree for his efforts to include protection of transgender people in the city’s Human Dignity Ordinance. He has been on the executive board of the San Diego County Democratic Party since 2002. He served two years as Director of Clubs. Mr. Durfee has been a member of the California Democratic Party Executive Board since 1999. In 1999-2000 he served as the field director for Toni Atkins’ successful run for the San Diego city council. Ms. Atkins now represents a large portion of San Diego in the California State Senate and served as Speaker of the Assembly from May 2014 through March 2016.

Before moving to San Diego he had a fifteen-year career as a high school agriculture teacher. During his tenure as an educator he served as president of his local teachers union and served in the state and national arenas as a political action leader within his union. While teaching he took leaves of absence to work as a political field director for the National Education Association and Washington Education Association and as a congressional aide for education and labor issues on Capital Hill.

Our members make history. Join or renew your membership here.

Yes, They Did! The First 4 Transgender Elected Officials

Democrats for Equality,

Last night was beyond historic.

Pundits in Virginia were saying that Ralph Northam recorded the biggest Democratic win in over 30 years, and the record-breaking seats that were flipped was the most in over a century!

New Jersey wasn’t even close.

Democrats won (and ousted) Republicans in New York’s Nassau and Westchester counties.

Voters in Maine told their Trump-loving Governor to pound sand, and voted to extend Medicaid coverage.

Charlotte, North Carolina elected their first African-American woman mayor.

Among a couple Democratic legislative wins in Georgia, one includes a long-held Republican seat that will feature TWO Democrats in a special run-off election. Peachy.

And our brothers and sisters in Washington State delivered a state senate electoral win so notable, that now every legislative chamber and Governors mansion on the West Coast is dominated by Democrats.

The most historic moment though — the election of Danica Roem as the first transgender candidate elected to a statehouse in the United States — was quickly followed by 3 more electoral wins from our transgender community!

  • Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender candidate elected to a major city’s governing body (Minneapolis City Council), and is the first transgender woman of color elected to office in the country!
  • Tyler Titus became the first transgender candidate elected in Pennsylvania to the Erie School Board!
  • And finally, closer to home, Lisa Middleton became the first transgender candidate elected to a non-judicial office in California!

Despite the media hype and the naysayers, last night was a BIG WIN for Democrats!

It was a shot in the arm that we needed heading into 2018. Locally, as you know, we have some high-profile elections coming up with seats that have been held, and are held, by incumbent Republicans. Coupled with the excitement, buzz, and enthusiasm that Democrats have been showing this year, we could be looking at another historic night less than a year from now.

Finally, reminder that our monthly meeting is next week: Thursday, November 16 at Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest. Social time at 6:30pm, Meeting starts at 7:00pm.

As you can see from our Endorsement Calendar (below), we will be considering endorsements for:

  • San Diego Unified School District C (Friendly Incumbent)
  • Congressional District 49
  • San Diego City Council Districts 2 and 8
  • Chula Vista City Council Districts 1 and 2

Due to our Holiday Party in December, club endorsements will resume in January. We will be taking up endorsement considerations from some of our competitive, non-incumbent statewide campaigns.

In Solidarity.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
San Diego Democrats for Equality

Club Member Highlight: Jamie Quient

Recently, Jamie was featured in a high-profile San Diego Union-Tribune article regarding her extensive work helping victims of human trafficking.

Jamie founded the nonprofit Free to Thrive which helps provide free legal service to victims and survivors of human trafficking.
She was a civil litigation attorney at Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch. Prior to joining Procopio, Jamie was a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Anello in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Jamie founded the Lawyers Club of San Diego Human Trafficking Collaborative. She received the 2016 Hope Rising – Rising Star Award from Point Loma Nazarene University for her anti-human trafficking efforts. She also serves as a member of the University of San Diego’s Kroc School Dean’s Advisory Board.

Also, Jamie was the 2016-2017 President of Lawyers Club of San Diego, a feminist bar association with over 1,300 members with the mission of advancing the status of women in the law and society.

Our members make history. Join or renew your membership here.

Club Members Being Honored & Diaper Drive

Democrats for Equality,

Over the last month, we have had the honor of sharing highlights on longtime club members John Lockhart and Bob Leyh.

These two U.S. Navy veterans will be honored and inducted onto the The Benjamin F. Dillingham, III & Bridget Wilson LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor 2017 Induction Ceremony on Thursday, November 9th.

The ceremony will take place at the San Diego LGBT Center from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, and we’d love to see as many club members turn out to help honor and celebrate their service to our country.

Please check out the Facebook event page for more details. Congratulations again to our two club members on this honor!

We have joined the effort to help collect diapers to benefit Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher and the San Diego County Building Trades’ Diaper Drive. Diapers collected will go the families in need. So, please bring diapers to our upcoming club meeting on Thursday, November 16th!

You may also drop diapers off at our club office: 1238 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103 (right above Uptown Tavern in Hillcrest).

In Solidarity.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy
San Diego Democrats for Equality