In publicizing the procedural move to elect a new chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party, Sioux Falls Democrat Sheldon Osborn said the proposed party constitutional changes were summarized in a letter from Rachelle Norberg, a party activist in Vermillion.*
A supporter of the snap election gets me in touch with Norberg, who provides this guest column on what’s afoot and why her contingent (I’m pretty sure her “we” is not editorial) wants to replace current SDDP chair Ann Tornberg:
Thanks to the Dakota Free Press for hosting our editorial input here! We really appreciate the opportunity to explain and expand a bit on the proposed amendments to the SD Democratic Party’s Constitution.
The amendments as proposed make a number of grammatical changes, and clean up a few areas, but the heart of the proposed amendment would change the term and election date of the State Party Chair. Currently that election is held in the same year as a Gubernatorial election, a point, which we feel, does not serve the interest of having a strong Chairperson in place to layout a plan and lead us through an election. Moving the election prior to May 1 of each odd numbered year allows the chair to be elected at the same time as other party leaders across the state. And, more importantly, gives the incoming chair time to take the reins and build momentum through the next election cycle.
Secondly, we believe that the move to a four-year term for Chairperson has not served the party well and we should return to a 2-year term. Any person who finds success in the office would be able to run for unlimited terms of re-election but it would give us an opportunity to make changes in leadership when needed.
If these amendments pass, we intend to hold an immediate election.
According to the SDDP constitution, there is no requirement to give notice of an election, but in an attempt to be transparent and give adequate notice, we included a notice of this intended election in the cover letter that was submitted to all SDDP State Central Committee members more than 10 days ahead of the coming meeting as required by the Constitution. Anyone interested in running for the Chair or other position has had time to make that intention known and to work for or against the proposed changes. We encourage anyone interested in seeking these offices to make their intentions known.
As for the optics and the “politics” of it, we know this isn’t pleasant and it’s not fun. But, can we really be worried that the SDDP is going to get worse press than this? Do we really think the status quo is worth protecting?
We don’t hold Ann Tornberg responsible for all that ails the SDDP. She has tried her best, and for that we thank her. What we do hold her responsible for is a severe lack of management ability that has led to low fundraising, dropping voter registration numbers, a nearly invisible message, and at the center, zero of anything resembling a strategic action plan for the State Party. The Executive Board has made numerous attempts to initiate strategic planning processes and set goals, which were either ignored, or misguided into “listening sessions” that fell on deaf ears. Many of your Democratic Party participating readers will likely share their own frustrations and experiences of Tornberg’s inability to lay out clear pathways to success despite her two years of trying.
So, without any attempt to conceal our intentions, we ask SDDP Central Committee members to stand with us for bold, decisive action that can unite our party behind new leadership.
Vermillion, South Dakota [submitted to Dakota Free Press, 2017.04.24
I’ll second at least one of Norberg’s motions: Democrats, if you want to be chair, let Dakota Free Press know! Let’s discuss your qualifications here on the blog and, if the snap election takes place, get an idea of who’s best for the job!
*p.s.: Norberg sits on the SDDP Executive Board and Central Committee by dint of her presiding over the South Dakota Young Democrats; however, the proposed SDDP constitutional amendments are not sponsored by the Young Dems, and Norberg is promoting these amendments and the snap election as an individual activist, not in her leadership role.