I want to be clear about what happened on Saturday, 12/08/2012, at the Vice-chair election for the Utah Democrats.
After my friend and mentor Jim Judd’s untimely death last year, I ran for the seat as Vice-chair of the Utah Democratic Party for a second time. Jim and I had become good friends during the original Vice-chair election in 2011 and we had split the vote in the election, with Judd winning the seat. It was only natural that I run for the position again.
Jane Marquardt, purveyor of private prisons with Management and Training Corporation (MTC) also ran for the position. Marquardt sought to maintain her ‘prestigious’ spot on the Democratic National Committee (which goes to the highest ranking woman on the executive committee). Marquardt was appointed to the position in 2011 by her friend, Jim Dabakis, shortly after I lost and left the executive committee without a single female member.
The Utah Democratic Party has recently put its focus and financial resources toward recruiting Latinos. To this end, Jane Marquardt was not a good match for the position of Vice-chair. We cannot expect to recruit Latinos while simultaneously imprisoning their brothers and sisters in Marquardt’s border prisons like Willacy (know for their sexual abuse – Frontline). My understanding of Jane’s position (in talking to several of her close friends) is that although she is Vice-chair of the Board of Directors at MTC, she does not believe she has a hand in the decision-making process and therefore cannot be held responsible for the actions of the corporation. At the same time, the Marquardt’s family company profits from the disproportionate caging and abuse of LGBT people (especially transgender women) and undermines the very work of Equality Utah and other LGBT organizations.
During Jane’s speech, there was a disruption by a group of activists. I was not a part of the planning or execution of this protest. Uneasy with the then perceived sympathy for Jane in the audience after the disruption, I dropped out of the race to combine my supporters with Josie Valdez’s to ensure Josie’s win, even if it was at my personal and political expense. Marquardt took 59% of the vote in the first round of voting for the 7 candidates, but needed 60% to win. The top two people go to a second round of voting and Josie Valdez won the final election. Josie Valdez is a longtime Democratic activist, a former candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and most recently, a candidate for Utah’s Senate 8.
I am very satisfied with the outcome of the election.
(Here is my speech from December 8, 2013. I am sharing it because I still believe the Democratic Party of Utah needs a dramatic strategy shift.)
My name is Deb Henry and I am a Utah Democrat.
As a volunteer, campaign manager and candidate who has worked on campaigns on the federal, state, county and local level, I have seen the Utah Democratic Party from some flattering angles, and some not-so-flattering angles.
I do not believe that we will be able to elect a flawless Democrat in a state-wide race until our county parties are stronger. I believe that winning elections starts with electing Democrats locally — getting people used to the idea of the Democratic brand and trust — and then giving them reasons to vote Democrat in slightly bigger elections until we then reach the state level. We need to make some serious structural improvements that serve our county parties and local candidates to cultivate more candidates and more support.
It is for this reason that I cherish the endorsements of Dorothy Engelman of Washington County and Caralee Woods of Kane County where we have made significant progress in localizing Democratic values. I wish they could be here today.
I am not saying that fundraising isn’t important, either — but I do think that there are people out there hesitant to put their money into a pool that includes our more questionable donors at sums that make regular donations look like pocket change. I have helped raise 10’s of thousands of dollars nationally and locally for organizations such as KRCL radio, The Bicycle Collective, Josie Valdez for Senate, Peaceful Uprising and many other non-profits and campaigns. It will be so much easier to raise money when we stick to our values and therefore get buy-in to our vision.
Because of this perspective, I reject the idea that we have to take money from any institution or donor that actively and knowingly trades one person’s human rights for another. We will never have the respect of the general public until we put our values before money. It is bad enough that anytime a wealthy candidate enters a Utah Democratic race, all of the other capable, competent candidates are brushed aside. But never has this party had to face a person with uglier and more immoral money than the wealthiest candidate in this race.
Today you have a mighty choice in front of you that will affect my generation for years to come. I ran for office because I wanted to offer you a choice. I wanted to remind you that you always have a choice and it is your choices that define you and the Democratic Party of Utah.
Please use the following as you see fit. Our thoughts are with you!
Support for Deb Henry – Vice Chair of the Utah Democratic Party.
Due to the distance and time involved to attend the Central Committee Meeting from southern Utah, we will not be at the meeting on December 8, 2012. However, we want to go on record as supporting Deb Henry for the State Party Vice-chair position.
Deb has consistently and persistently recognized the importance of the Democratic efforts in southern Utah. She has maintained communication with those who live in more rural or distant parts of Utah and believes that the state party will benefit by supporting growth of Democratic activities outside the Wasatch Front. The number of party members outstate may not be great but their votes count and may one day be the difference in a winning campaign. Deb believes that there is room for party growth in those areas that heretofore have been ceded to the Republicans and she will work to make that a reality.
We are optimistic about Democratic growth in southern Utah and we stand by the candidate who has made it clear for a long time that she, too, believes southern Utah counts.
Were we able to attend the Central Committee meeting, we would vote for Deb Henry! We wish her all the best in her efforts to be an important part of State Party leadership.
Chair, Kane County Democratic Party
Chair, Washington County Democratic Party
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.~Barack Obama