New Leadership For A More Inclusive State Party
Why I’m running to be the next Chair of the Nevada Democratic Party
I’m William McCurdy, a first-term Assemblyman from the west side of Las Vegas. I was born and raised and have spent my entire life in Nevada. As a teenager, I grew up in poverty and around gang violence.
I dropped out of high school when my first son was born so I could earn the money our family needed to make ends meet. When I was working as the youngest construction foreman on a big job, I knew that I had to do more if I was going to give my kids the kind of life they deserved. I went back to get my high school diploma and enrolled in the College of Southern Nevada, where I earned an associate’s degree and graduated with honors.
While at CSN, I had the honor of serving as Student Body President. I took that responsibility seriously, fighting for my classmates by advocating against tuition hikes and supporting legislation for our state’s first need-based aid program. We made our voices heard, by organizing. With other student Presidents across the state we created a day of action to send students to Carson City to lobby the legislature on behalf of our community needs with a focus on attaining higher education funding.
For the past few years, I’ve continued that fight for my community and progressive values at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), where I work as a union organizer striving to secure better working conditions and better pay for our members.
And this past November, I was honored and humbled to be elected to represent Assembly District 6 in Las Vegas. The first bill I presented in the Legislature earlier this month was to give our workers a badly needed boost by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
As a lifelong Nevadan, as a union organizer, as an Assemblyman representing a working class district — I believe I have the background and the experience to help ensure our state’s Democratic Party lays the groundwork for another successful election cycle and beyond.
This is a new era and an opportunity for a fresh start for the NV Dems, and I believe we are at a critical crossroad. People are looking to see whether this organization will continue to be the force that it has been over the last decade. Together, we have to decide whether we are going to be permanently divided by the last election or unite together to keep electing Democrats and defeating Republicans.
Now more than ever, we need a Chair who will build a united, more progressive, inclusive state party that will lead us to victory again in 2018 and for years to come. I will be that Chair.
In Nevada, Republicans control the governor’s mansion and every statewide constitutional office. Donald Trump is sitting in the White House and the GOP has nearly unchecked power to enact their extreme agenda in Congress. These are dangerous times.
While we were tremendously successful in Nevada up and down the ticket in 2016, our margins in the most competitive races were razor-thin. We cannot be complacent — and we cannot afford a repeat of the results of 2014.
Whether it is students, millennials, the African American community, union members, or rural Nevadans, I see plenty of opportunities for us to reconnect with voters and improve our standing with these communities in this next election. It does not matter to me if you are a Democrat from Las Vegas, Reno, Elko, or Goldfield — we are all Nevadans, we all bring something to the table.
At the end of the day we need to talk to voters across every corner of this state to explain why WE have the right ideas for our state, and why OUR party is the best party for folks that have been forgotten for far too long. If we are smart and aggressive and ready to move forward, we can knock Dean Heller out of the Senate, reclaim the governorship and other statewide constitutional offices, and even expand our majorities in the State Senate and Assembly, while helping our elected officials in Washington D.C. provide a mighty check on Donald Trump.
Our platform for the Nevada Democratic Party:
1. Empowering County Parties and SCC Members
As an organizer, like you, I know firsthand the importance of lifting up grassroots voices to take political action. Our party needs to put a renewed focus on activating SCC members and local party organizations to be more effective and more involved.
- The state party should create a fully interactive training program to empower SCC members to serve as organizers in their communities.
- County Parties should have the training, tools, and authority to administer the VAN so they are equipped to organize their communities year-round.
- Our caucuses should be empowered to help engage and activate Democrats where they are, whether it’s the Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus in rural counties or the Young Democrats of Nevada at high schools and on college campuses.
- SCC Committees need to be empowered to assist more fully in governing the party and being a voice for the membership.
2. Creating an Accessible and Welcoming Party
If we want to become more accessible and grow the party, it has to be easier and simpler to get involved. You should not have to consult Robert’s Rules of Order to figure out how to become an engaged Democrat. Our arcane rules are a confusing barrier and turning people away. If we want to attract young and diverse members, we need to take a serious look at the structure and see if there are ways to utilize technology to encourage more participation. We need an action-oriented approach.
- The state party’s rules should be reformed and updated to reflect the realities of a modern political party. On issues like adding people to the SCC and fixing the caucus to convention process, our party would benefit from a task force that studies these issues and provides consensus recommendations.
- The state party should provide forums for involvement outside of the SCC, such as grassroots activist trainings, so that new potential members who are looking to get involved feel welcomed instead of feeling shut out.
- Being an active SCC member shouldn’t require that you be retired or have the means to afford to travel across the state. We should have video conferencing available for every SCC meeting and invest in the technology needed to make it work effectively.
3. Fostering a Culture of Respect and Transparency
It’s important to acknowledge that all of us as Democrats needed to show a little more respect for each other during the last election cycle — but the time to move forward is now. We must work together to ensure the values and priorities we ALL share are protected. Our Democratic ideals are now threatened on a daily basis under the Trump administration, and it requires that we stand united.
- If elected Chair, I will push for greater transparency on how decisions are made. I would schedule information sessions on how the party operates so that new members feel welcome and can learn how to be a partner in the process.
- Our voters deserve more respect. We cannot keep throwing money at communities of color and students during the final weeks of an election cycle and expect them to show up for us. We cannot keep writing off our rural communities and taking for granted our voters within them.
4. Ensuring Long-Term Sustainability
Unfortunately, money is a reality in modern campaigns, and we must prioritize keeping our party sustainable. We need to create a state party that functions independently of the boom or bust cycles of national campaigns.
- The state party needs a year-round organizing presence across Nevada and a year-round communications/research operation to hold Republicans accountable.
- To support these programs, we need to invest in building a more robust small-dollar fundraising program with grassroots supporters and form a Finance Council to make raising money a community effort.
- We need to obtain buy-in from our elected officials at every level to make supporting the state party a year-round team responsibility.
- We need to cultivate talent at every level of elected office. We cannot only focus our attention on Congress or the state legislature — we need to engage with and support Democrats running for local positions like mayor, city council, county commission and school board.