Where to Send Your Donations

At our last meeting, we were asked about the plethora of groups vying for your political donations.  There are many, many options, and it’s hard for anyone to make sense of it all.

The way I look at it, there are basically four kinds of causes asking for your political donations:

  1. Individual candidates, to directly fund their election efforts.
  2. Political party operations, for party operations and special events as well as supporting candidates,
  3. National campaign umbrellas (DNCC, DGA, etc), who distribute donations to candidates,
  4. Issue-advocacy groups and PACs: Everytown, Planned Parenthood, MoveOn, etc., who advertise for or against candidates based on their pet issue.

The top of your list should be the candidate(s) you support.  Give directly to the election result that’s going to affect your life, to candidates you like for their position on the issues.  Everything else is indirect. So support candidates, first and foremost. Giving to the county party should be almost an afterthought.  Think of us, please, yes… but a token afterthought is all. Support your candidates first and foremost, and then support them again!

In the bygone days of uncontested races, the national umbrellas made sense if you didn’t have a candidate to support, nor know which of the other states’ candidates was worth backing.  Today, Democrats in Georgia have been so successful in recruiting that you probably have to decide which local candidates to support!  So leave the umbrellas for people in the Northeast and the West Coast, or in Wyoming and Utah, whose local contests aren’t hot.

Even then, there are too many candidates to ask you to support them all.  Pick a total recurring donation that you’re comfortable with—recurring because it helps the recipients plan over their campaign—and divide it up however you like.  If there’s a contested Democratic primary and you have a strong preference, give to help win the primary. If you care against the incumbent more than for one Democrat, wait until the primary shakes out and support the winner.

Support the local races; they affect you most directly, and can’t get the attention of people far away, whereas a state-wide race draws on millions of Georgians and maybe the national umbrellas also.  Local races are cheaper, but have fewer donors: a small donation to a county race has more impact, proportionally. But state races need support, too, and if everyone only looks local, we can’t win them.   So pick a mix, whatever you feel good about… and then feel good about it.  You’re donating what you can do, thank you.

Issue advocacy groups only steer conversation; it’s candidates who get elected who do things.  So if there is an issue dear to you give to candidates supporting the issue more than to the advocacy PAC.  You’d be asking the PAC to support candidates, so just do it directly. You can give to the PAC also, if you like, to help with media buzz and in other states.  And there are reasons to do so—attack ads, for example, work from a third party, but not well from the candidates.

But mostly, it’s all about the candidates, so support them.  And remember that for the next couple weeks, our incumbent state legislators (Deborah and Jonathan) can’t take donations… but they’ll need them as soon as the session ends!


We Have Candidates! … And They Need YOU

Qualifying week is now over for all candidates in local, state, and federal seats…which means we have campaigns to run! 💙

We have a slew of campaigns that we will be working in the Oconee County local, state, and federal elections. That is amazing news, and a huge success compared to earlier ballots full of uncontested races! But it requires all of us stepping in to support these candidates.

Attached is a link to our new Master Volunteer Form that will let us match skills and legwork to the campaigns needing assistance. Please complete this form and let us know what you can do, what you are willing to do, what you are interested in, so that we can hit the ground running with these courageous community members who have stepped up to be our voice!!

“March for our Lives” Rally: March 24, 2018

“March for Our Lives Rally” will be held at 11 am – 1 pm, Saturday, March 24, at the Pavilion in Oconee Veterans Park, 3500 Hog Mountain Road, in support of thousands of high school students across Georgia and the nation who are insisting that lawmakers everywhere put an end to the mass killings of school children. The event is sponsored by the Oconee County Democratic  Committee.

We invite the public to offer its sympathy for the slain and support for young students everywhere as they seek solutions to school violence.  Jonathan Wallace and Deborah Gonzalez, Georgia House Representatives from Districts 119 and 117, respectively, will offer brief remarks in support of the goals the young students are seeking, as will Chalis Montgomery and Richard  Winfield, candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Democratic Primary in May.  Several high school students will speak as well, and civic leaders in the county have also been invited to attend and address the audience.

After the remarks, there will be time for the speakers and audience to talk with one another about the difficulties and obstacles faced to make communities safer.  At the conclusion of the program, many may choose to walk the trails in the Park in memory of those who have lost their lives in mass shootings.

The Issues You Care About

About two weeks ago we asked all of you to let us know what issues were important to you.  Even if you haven’t filled the survey out yet, you aren’t too late—watching that is going to be an ongoing thing for us for a while.  The goal, of course, is to better understand what things to pay attention to.  We’ve gotten about 20 responses so far, but that’s enough to see some interesting things.

Let’s look first at the issues we listed for you to rank:

The first item, Gerrymandering, was accidentally left out at first, which accounts for its low rating (it’s tied for top since we restored it).    What’s a bit surprising is that both Wastewater and Highway Infrastructure have support overall… but nobody’s going to go door-to-door for them (green).  Yet Highway Infrastructure gets more people to “click ‘Like’” than anything else… you just don’t think you’d get off the couch for it.  (Good to know, and we’re not judging!)

The winner for engagement is Gun Safety, perhaps top-of-mind because of the tragic events in Florida… and we’re glad to say we’re already working to do something visible about that.  Second place goes to Medicare Expansion, which our new state representatives have both pushed.

So, we think we’re working on the right things.  We all need to make it clear these are voting issues, and we need to recruit for those issues outside our own bubble.  Those flipped elections suggest that broader support is out there, so it’s okay to talk about it!

The other interesting note is about the write-in issues.  Half of the respondents have added write-in issues, which lets us know what you’re thinking of that we didn’t already guess was on your mind.  The most common were for jobs and for K-12 education issues other than funding and safety.  We’ve also seen several variations on racial equality, both economic and judicial; cannabis decriminalization; and environmental concern (local and national).

For the K-12 issues, we’re glad to report that we’ve found candidates to run for county school board; that’s where we get the leverage to influence those decisions.  For pay equity at least, our representatives have also sponsored non-discrimination and living wage bills.  The other issues you added… not so much progress yet; it’s good to know what to watch for!

Finally, we added the self-identification questions late, but we see a good mix of the left spectdrum in how we identify.  I’m particularly pleased with teh several “non-partisan” voters who are coming too us; we want a broad and inclusive reach!

Now, about 2018…

Didn’t we just do this election thing?  And win it?  Well, yes… but that was only the 2017 special election, one race per district to fill the seats vacated by former Representatives Quick and Williams.  There’s still the regular 2018 election, with a whole slate of state, district, county, and local elections, plus our representative in the U.S. Congress.

So… for the first few months of 2018 we’ll have an eye on the Georgia legislative session, and we always have an eye on Congress (which is surprisingly necessary despite so little actually getting done), but… it’s time to talk about the road to November 2018.

Election Calendar

From the Secretary of State’s office, here are the key dates:

  • Voter registration deadline for the Primary: April 23, 2018
  • Primary election: May 22, 2018
    • Primary runoff, if needed, July 24, 2018
  • Voter registration deadline for the General Election:  October 9, 2018
  • General election: November 6, 2018
    • General election runoff, if needed: December 4, 2018

Additionally, although we don’t yet anticipate needing one, there could be a springtime special election on March 20, 2018; if so, its voter registration deadline would be February 20, 2018, and any runoff would be April 17, 2018.  No reason we’d need that, but… you never know.

Open Offices

There are a lot of offices up for grabs; you should consider running.  (We can teach you how,.)

Our candidates page lists the races that we know are currently in contention, but we might have missed one or two.  (Please tell us, by Facebook message or email, if you think we did miss anything!)  But this is the list of all the races we know are open, regardless of whether they have a Democratic challenger yet.



There are enough here that we’re going to separate the legislative, judicial, and executive positions:


Judicial (non-partisan election)

  • Judge, state-wide Court of Appeals



  • Superior Court Justice for Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties, departing incumbent David Sweat
  • County Commissioner Post 2, incumbent Chuck Horton (R)
  • County Commissioner Post 3, incumbent W. E. “Bubber” Wilkes (R)
  • County School Board Post 2, incumbent Amy Parrish (R)
  • County School Board Post 3, incumbent Kim Argo (R)


  • Watkinsville City Council Post 3, incumbent Marcia Campbell
  • Watkinsville City Council Post 4, incumbent Christine Tucker
  • Watkinsville City Council Post 5, incumbent Dan Matthews

(None of Bishop, Bogart, or High Shoals have council seats open in 2018.  Bishop just elected a full slate to four-year terms, so they’re next up in 2021; the others have a half-council up in 2019.)

Interested in Running?

If you are, come to one of our meetings and talk to us about it.  Or contact us on Facebook or via this form to express your interest.

Even if you’re not sure, let us know; we can help you understand what the job would involve, what running for it would involve, and how we can help you do those things.  We can also help train you for the race, and maybe help you find volunteers to staff your campaign…

District 119 Candidate Forum, question by question

The Oconee Candidates’ Forum on Monday October 9th was, let’s be honest, a marathon: two races, six candidates, just under two and a half hours.   Which is exciting in terms of civic engagement, but does make it hard to find the questions and answers you were looking for.  So, while the full video of the entire evening is available here, this post gives you a question-by-question index into the video of the 119th district forum specifically.  (We have a companion post for the 117 forum too.)

District 117 Candidate Forum, question by question

We posted the entire video of the 117 session, but the questions being asked and links to those specific moments are below:

Calendar for 2017 Elections

It’s that time of year, as the “days until” countdown above shows.

The original schedule was adjusted slightly for the qualification deadline because of Hurricane Irma, but the critical dates are:

Last Day to Qualify: Friday September 15 If you want to run for any of this year’s offices, you need you have your paperwork filed and fees paid by today.  Typically that’s done at either the city or county election board offices.

Voter Registration Deadline: Tuesday, October 10  Anyone not registered to vote by this deadline can’t vote in 2017.   You can register on-line; remember you’ll need to bring a photo id to the polls.  (And if you miss the deadline, register anyway, to get it done… but you’ll have to wait until 2018 to cast your ballot.)

Early Voting: Monday, October 16 through Friday, November 3  If you want to vote, but don’t expect to be able to make the polls on November 7, here’s your window.  Early voting in Oconne is at 10 Court Street Watkinsville, GA 30677, Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM.  Absentee and mail-in ballots accepted in the same timeframe.  Saturday voting is available October 28 (only), 9am to 4pm, at the same location.

General Election: Tuesday, November 7 This is the big day.  Go to your polling place and cast a ballot!

Early Voting for Special Election Run-off: ends December 1  Assuming no candidate in the 119th race gets 50% on the first ballot (that’s the only race with more than two candidates), the top two face-off in a run-off.  The Secretary of State calendar doesn’t list a start for early/absentee voting on that (probably as soon as they can get ballots printed!), but the end is December 1.

Special Election Run-off: Tuesday, December 5 With four candidates competing for the 119th, if no candidate gets 50% of the vote on November 7th, it’s important that you cast your ballot again on December 5th.  (The run-off pits the top two candidates against each other.)

Interview with Deborah Gonzalez

This year, both of Oconee County’s two districts for the Georgia State House are up for special elections: both Rep. Regina Quick and Rep. Chuck Williams (both Republicans) have accepted other positions, as a federal judge and as head of the state Forestry Commission respectively.

Athens attorney Deborah Gonzalez is running in the 2017 special election for the 117th district, hoping to claim Regina Quick’s former seat.  She recently gave us an interview covering her background, her views on state government, and many of the issues facing the state house today.

Deborah told us of her life as an Army child, her first job in a factory, and the challenges raising her daughter as a single mother.  She went to law school to be able to give her daughter more, running her law practice as a small business.  Running for office she describes as “an responsibility, instilled in me by my father”… but also one that is worthwhile and rewarding for the people she meets, and for their stories.

Asked about the district she hopes to represent, which includes portions of four counties (Oconee, Clarke, Jaskson, and Barrow), she described the district as “gerrymandered” and said she had originally been worried the various constituencies would have different needs and concerns.  Instead, however, she has found that across the district, people largely want the same things: affordable care to keep themselves and their families healthy; a good education, whether college or technical training, and K-12 education before that; jobs that pay well enough to support themselves.  In that very basic sense, she finds the district very unified in its desires.

When discussing plans to keep in touch with voters after the election, however, she did acknowledge some separation, describing a need for county-specific contact people, and plans to keep her office available late at least once a month, in locations varying across the four counties.  This would make her accessible to citizens whose schedule might not allow them to see her during “business hours:” she promised that anyone in the office by 9:00pm would be seen.  This is an idea she borrows from former Atlanta Mayer Shirley Franklin, which she hopes will augment more traditional hours, as well on on-line and social media resources.

Like many candidates, Deborah has announced positions on many national issues on her campaign website.  However, we wanted to ask her about her views at the state level, since that is the office she is contending for.   As Deborah noted, we are nationally very divided today, but what divides us is known.  That creates an opportunity to find what will bring us together—a process which she believes government, and particularly the state government, has a large role to play.  It is also an environment in which her experience at mediation may be particularly helpful.

In Deborah’s view, elected officials have information, collected by aides or provided by lobbyists, that citizens do not have access to, nor time to understand.  She views it as the officials’ job to gather as many viewpoints as possible, consider all of them, and then to communicate accurate, reliable information to all stakeholders.  She cited the recent Campus Carry bill as an example of the system not working properly: the governor received over 14,000 calls against from citizens’ voices across the community, but passed the bill in response to about 1/100th as many supporters, many of them lobbyists.

And Deborah pointed out that the state government is relevant even on those national issues.  Healthcare, for example, is not only the ACA and its repeal and replace efforts: it includes expansion of Medicare, which  is a state decision.  So are school privatization decisions, livable wage and minimum wage laws, and other examples.  Asked about the top challenges facing Georgia specifically, Deborah lists representation as one: which voices are heard, who gets to vote, and how those votes are apportioned during redistricting.  All are issues addressed at the state level.

Deborah also brought up Internet privacy and accessibility issues during our interview; these are issues she feels strongly about, and has expertise in, from her previous work.  When I pressed about why she emphasized those, and why voters should care about issues that may seem abstract and technical, she reminded me of how deeply the Internet has penetrated our lives.  The issue for her is not only about bandwidth costs for large corporations like Netflix, but about Internet service costs to consumers, and costs to smaller entities: schools and on-line education offerings,  technology entrepreneurs, and “mom-and-pop” companies hosting their websites.  If Internet costs for those enterprises rise sharply, that causes a loss of access to what has become a necessary resource in modern business and modern life.

And, despite viewing the district as having been gerrymandered, Deborah sees an opportunity to flip the 117th.  The district voted for President Trump, but only by a 3% margin; her challenge, as she sees it, is ensuring turnout in the special election, particularly by those who are supporters, but hesitant of her chances: she feels she can win, but only with all of those voters’ votes.

Why We Fundraise

Oconee County Democratic Committee is a a supportive network of volunteers and advocates who work together to organize for a better Georgia and Oconee County. OCDC runs on due and donations received locally, and does not receive funds from either the state or the national Democratic party.

OCDC provides the overall leadership for the Democratic Party in Oconee County on issues like election strategy/ who to endorse in elections, community outreach and local Democratic fundraising.

  1. Candidate Development – The one and only reason we exist is to vet qualified candidates to run for any office.  in Candidate Development, we meet with individuals, assist in training and provide financial support. It is so important that we have funds to help our brave candidates. If we want to win elections we need people to run and if we want people to run they need to feel supported.
  2. Community Outreach – This is to get our name out there.  It is hosting events, going into neighborhoods to support local programs (i.e., neighborhood clean up, First Friday’s, school functions, etc.). We have lots of ideas to grow our presence in Oconee County and having funds will allow us to reach our goals by hosting and participating in a wide variety of events.
  3. Operational Expenses – Cost of buying campaign materials (signs, stickers, buttons).  Cost of rent, supplies, food for events, postage, media and our website.

Please consider making a contribution today or commit to a monthly contribution.  Click the “Donate” link on the menu above.

Also, please remember that our candidates also need support for their individual races: the committee can help and support them, but candidates need to buy their own yard signs and advertisements, run their own websites, feed and hydrate canvassers, etc.  Please remember to give to support our candidates as well.