Letter: State Democrats need more democracy

Last year I ran for a seat on the New York State Democratic Committee, campaigning on a promise to speak up for the thousands of Democrats in Ulster County who care deeply about our core values of fairness, inclusivity, transparency and respect for the democratic process.

As a first step toward keeping that promise, I have introduced five proposed changes to the rules of the state Democratic Party that, if adopted, will make it more democratic in the way it operates. What I’ve learned since getting elected to the state committee, which is the official organization of the party statewide, is that its members actually have very little say in party affairs and decision-making. Meetings are announced last-minute and members are typically offered “up or down” votes on items pre-decided by the officers and executive committee — the majority of whom were not elected to the state committee.

The state committee can and should be a vital mechanism for listening to and integrating the voices of the Democratic Party base into leadership at the state level. This is the kind of bottom-up representation that gives our party its strength. This is how we organize to win.


A coalition of state committee members, both long-timers and newbies like me, will be advocating for the five rule changes at the next state committee meeting on July 25, and registered Democrats across New York can help by signing an online petition that urges party leaders to adopt the common-sense reforms. All the details, including the exact rule changes and a link to the petition, can be found at GrassrootsDemsNY.org.

At a time when more and more Democrats are stepping up and engaging in the political process, pressing our government officials to act in line with our values, we must insist that our party does the same.

Kelleigh McKenzie
New York State Democratic Committeewoman, 103rd Assembly District, Ulster County