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    ADEM Election Results and New Co-Chair at Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

    By Louise “Lou” Fischer–

    It’s February, so while the California Black Bears are hibernating in Yosemite and the Bears of the Castro and SoMa are hibernating at 440 Castro and the SF Eagle, the political nerds in the Bay Area are going through a short hibernation until the California Democratic Convention in May, conveniently (and rarely) located in San Francisco. Here’s what happened recently.

    ADEM Election Results

    In last month’s column, I covered the little-known and obscure Assembly Delegate Election for Districts 17 and 19 in San Francisco  (http://sfbaytimes.com/obscure-democratic-party-election-weekend/ ). As expected, the Election in Phil Ting’s District 19 was a genial affair, which could have easily been mistaken for a proper Sunday Church Ladies Tea Party had they served tea and finger sandwiches with a few lace doilies tossed in for decoration. Assemblymember Ting’s “consensus slate” prevailed; there was dancing and celebration in the streets and the villagers rejoiced.

    In comparison, the ADEM Election in District 17 was the antithesis of calm and cordial—more “Boston Tea Party” than proper Ladies Tea Party. I half expected a modern version of the “Sons of Liberty” to storm in, grab 342 boxes of ballots and toss them into the harbor. The event was described as “a total s–t-show with over 2000 people outside in the pouring rain in a line that stretched 3 blocks, a wait of 2–3 hours to get in to a jam-packed, stuffy room to wait in another long line just to turn in the ballot.” That statement is an exaggeration; it didn’t rain. Depending on how you look at it, it was Democracy at its best or at its worst. No one was voting on the issues or the individuals. It was a Hunger Games competition of pure numbers; whichever side turns out more people wins.

    As a dedicated Democrat with an undiagnosed masochistic streak, I agreed to help check voters in and give out ballots. Along with my trilingual “day job” co-worker Chasel, I was assigned to the “Chinese language assistance table.” I think someone overheard me say that I had Chinese food on Christmas Eve, so apparently that made me qualified. I did a lot of smiling, pointing and transcribing name/address information onto forms while Chasel somehow managed to carry on 3 simultaneous conversations in Cantonese, Mandarin and English—a feat he repeated over and over for 2+ hours. I was awestruck by his talent and patience. In the end, Assemblymember Chiu’s slate won handily by capturing 14 out of 15 delegate spots. 

    If you missed out on the chance to be a delegate and still want to be involved, the Democratic Party is all about inclusion, not exclusion. We don’t build walls; we knock them down. Kimberly Ellis, the former Emerge California Executive Director and current candidate for Chair of the Democratic Party, is running on the message: “You’re Not Just Wanted; You’re Needed,” with the added, “You don’t have to be a delegate to participate and we need you because it’s all of us together.” I’m one of Kimberly’s biggest fans and will be supporting her in this race even if I have to convince people to stand in line for 2 hours in the pouring rain. Information about the upcoming Convention is on the CADEM website:  www.cadem.org .

    New Male Co-Chair at Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club

    In other news, my term as Immediate Past Co-Chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Club and Eric Lukoff’s 2-year term as male Co-Chair ended on January 14. In 2017, I served as Co-Chair with Eric for “365 days of pure joy, rapture and sleep deprivation.” Last year, together with his “second Co-Chair wife,” Gina Simi, Eric deftly led the club through so many elections that we actually lost count. His technical skills brought the club to new levels of efficiency, and his dedication and work ethic were unwavering.  

    I worried about the long hours he put in writing bylaws, policy platforms and opinion pieces, not to mention coding complex spreadsheets and forms while leading 50+ diverse and opinionated Board Members. But how do you stop a genius, and why would you? Thank you, Eric, for all of your hard work. You were the yin to my yang. You balanced me out—no small task! Together, we were two opposites who complemented each other and made each other whole. Your 2nd year with Gina was a symphony to behold. The two of you were so in synch. Enjoy your new role as Immediate Past Co-Chair, and get some sleep!

    Taking over for Eric is David Fujimoto, Alice’s first male Co-Chair of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. David and Gina are ending the run of consecutive Jewish Co-Chairs that goes back to 2015. While it is more an item of trivia than diversity, at least Brian Leubitz, Eric and I never accidentally scheduled meetings on Jewish holidays! I have a sentimental connection to David; he was my first Alice “husband”; we joined the Alice Board the same year, and then served as Field Co-Chairs in 2010.

    Together, we pushed the boundaries of field visibility and political activism by dressing up like the movie characters from Men in Black while doing field outreach or by bending a few rules, such as sneaking the bed sheet-sized Alice banner into places where it did not belong—specifically behind the Mayor’s podium during a nationally televised news event! I have immense respect—and a whole lot of love—for David. He has been a leader at Alice for many years, and will bring strong organizing skills, legal experience and a calm, cool demeanor to the role. Congratulations to David, and continued thanks to Gina for her hard work last year and for providing Alice with leadership, brilliance and a healthy sense of humor for another year. 

    Louise (Lou) Fischer is a Former Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club and has served as an appointed and elected Delegate for the State Democratic Party. She is a proud graduate of the Emerge California Women’s Democratic Leadership program, was a San Francisco Commissioner and has served in leadership positions in multiple nonprofit and community-based organizations.