Updated: Sep 23, 2020
There is a three to four week period just a few days after filing to run for public office when chaos ensues...
Organizations you greatly respect--and some you may have never heard of--come knocking (or e-mailing) with the intent of finding the right candidates to endorse. I've been on the other side of the table. For years I managed endorsements for the Sierra Club here in Marin County. My familiarity with the Sierra Club's endorsement process, however, didn't fully prepare me for the sheer number and diversity of questionnaires I received this election cycle. Nor did it inform how endorsement interviews would be handled in a pandemic, with dozens of candidates from various races all crowding Zoom rooms.
Why participate in endorsement interviews?
Whether it is the Democratic Central Committee of Marin (the "Marin Democratic Party"), the North Bay Labor Council (NBLC), or the Marin Women's Political Action Committee, each of these distinct endorsing organizations are comprised of community leaders from diverse interest groups. The NBLC, for instance, represents over 70 thousand working people and some 70 union affiliates in Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino, and Marin Counties. The Marin Democratic Party conducts outreach to the 55.31% of Marin's voters (and the 66.2% of Fairfax voters) that are registered Democrats. Participating in endorsement processes helps candidates like myself become aware of issues that other stakeholder groups may care about, helps candidates to clarify and refine our positions, and gives candidates the opportunity to practice our elevator pitch and speak to diverse groups of people. Endorsements are essentially seals of approval from these organizations that signify the viability of a candidate and whether or not a respective candidate is the right choice for the job. Once endorsed, a candidate has access to mailing lists, volunteers for phone-banking and text-banking, donations, and marketing materials such as endorsement logos for campaign materials, or mailers and door hangers paid for by the endorsing organization. For example, my endorsement by the Marin Democratic Party (and the California Democratic Party) afforded me the opportunity to appear on door hangers with other endorsed Democrats on the ballot (such as Joe Biden, Senator Kamala Harris, and a whole cadre of local candidates).
What does the process look like?
The endorsement process typical starts with an e-mail that includes the questionnaire and potential dates for endorsement interviews. Questionnaires can range in size, number of questions, and specificity for each particular race. Some questions are more boilerplate, but still require attention and care if you want to stand out. With each question we are trying to signify competency, thoughtfulness, and trust to these organizations. Over the course of about two weeks, I had produced roughly 60-70 pages of writing--with peer-reviewed citations from research that helped inform my positions and perspectives. Again, this alone is a great incentive for participating in the endorsement interviews. How do you feel about living wages? Stream setbacks? Staffing on fire engines? Council members discuss and decide on a wide variety of topics, and these endorsement processes help to bring some of those topics into view. Once questionnaires are submitted, viable candidates are invited to interviews with interview committees to see if they are mission/value-aligned and if the candidate is someone they can work well with. Furthermore, you may have great ideas, but if you don't have a real chance of winning an election (are you raising money, do you have a support base, etc) then organizations may not want to endorse your candidacy. This time around, as expected, the endorsement interviews were all held on Zoom. To make matters even more complex, the shift of elections to even years (this is the first time we are dealing with this) resulted in each organization being overwhelmed with races to review. This left some of these groups with few choices but to have quick "round-robbin" style interviews with all the candidates for the races, which can certainly help incumbents since the time for Q&A is limited and doesn't give challengers (like myself) much time to make distinctions between policy. On the same token, the limited time benefitted the most prepared and provided candidates with the "nudge" they need to be concise and specific.
Which Processes did Chance Participate in?
I participated in a wide variety of endorsement interviews: Democratic Central Committee of Marin ("Marin Democratic Party")
Marin Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 1775 North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Marin Women's Political Action Committee The Sierra Club Marin County Young Democrats California Democratic Renters Council (questionnaire/application only)
The results I'm proud to say that I have been endorsed by nine local and statewide organizations, whose missions and values align with mine in a multitude of ways. Each of these endorsements are coveted and they speak volumes about community-wide support for my vision, work ethic and leadership, which I am committed to bringing to the Fairfax Town Council.
Along with the Marin County Democratic endorsement I received the California Democratic Party endorsement! And along with the along of receiving the sole endorsement from the Marin Young Democrats, I also received the endorsement from the California Young Democrats. Finally, my commitment to a wide-scale, rapid and just approach to addressing the climate crisis through much of my professional and volunteer work in California helped me earn an endorsement from the Marin Sunrise Youth Hub, too! If you support any of the organizations I mentioned, I'm sharing the full set of photos below, which you can share with your friends on social media and by e-mail. Or just download and share the animated graphic above!
Don't forget, the full and updated list of endorsements can be found on my website here: https://www.chanceforfairfax.org/endorsements