Jim Thompson, Candidate for Chair of YCDP
As you know, I have announced my intention to seek another term as your Chair of the York County Democratic Party.
For the last decade you and I have knocked on and canvassed thousands of doors, made thousands of calls at phone banks, attended over one hundred York County Democratic Party forums, five YCDP County Conventions, ten South Carolina Democratic Party State Conventions, countless Issues Conferences, candidate forums, debates, town halls, precinct meetings, party and candidate fundraisers, set up, manned, and taken down Democratic booths at dozens of community festivals in York County and across the Palmetto State, and worked with community groups together in the cause of the Democratic Party, our values, and Democratic candidates and the Democratic tickets.
I first became involved with York County Democratic politics through the Obama campaign in 2008 and have worked side by side with you since.
I was asked to fill an opening on the Executive Board over five years ago as the Alternate Executive Committeeman. I was elected as the York County Executive Committeeman in 2014.
In November of 2014 I was asked to step up and become Acting Chair during the last weeks of Chairwoman Amy Hayes’s pregnancy and while she brought her son into this world. For ten months I served as Acting Chair and fulfilled my duties as YCDP Executive Committeeman.
In 2016 I was elected as your Chair of the YCDP.
Over the course of these five years as an elected York County Democratic Party official I have never missed a SCDP Executive Committee meeting, never missed a SCDP County Chair meeting, attended every John M. Spratt Issues Conference, worked with three SCDP Chairs, two YCDP chairs, and have only one excused absence, in 2015, from a YCDP Executive Board meeting when a loved one had surgery.
I have worked with and encouraged dozens of candidates and their campaigns here in York County to run for and serve on County Council, Clerk of Courts, Probate Judge, the SC House, the SC Senate, nonpartisan school board and local governments, and the appointed local county boards and commissions- as well as the Democratic tickets for statewide office, US Congress, and the US Senate.
I have had the great pleasure and honor of representing my precinct, York County, and South Carolina at two Democratic National Conventions.
During the 2016 Presidential campaign I worked even handedly with all candidates, their campaigns, and their supporters.
As your YCDP Chair I stepped up and ran as the Democratic candidate for SC House District 26. I gave close to 7,000 voters a chance to vote for the Democratic candidate. That hadn’t been done in the district for over twenty years. We made the Republicans fight to keep that seat. My back still hurts from putting up-and removing-over 400 yard signs and banners across the district.
As your YCDP Chair I worked closely, fairly, and with an even hand with all three candidates and their campaigns for the SC CD 5 special election. Democrats almost won that election. I had and still have very close and friendly relationships with Alexis Frank and Archie Parnell.
Democrats also had a Democratic candidate Bebs Chorak to vote for in the Special Election to fill SC House District 46. It has been at least two decades since we had an outstanding, engaged, and active candidate campaign for that seat.
When I first became part of the YCDP Executive Board we would begin the year with barely enough cash on hand to pay the rent. As Acting Chair and as your Chair I implemented a plan that reduced costs by close to fifty percent. We refocused our fundraising through our annual Spring Forward event. As your Chair I have personally authored over six hundred fundraising letters all with a handwritten note to our donors large and small.
I am happy to report that the last three years we’ve seen our financial support increase. This year we began with $16,000. in the bank. That is enough to cover keeping our YCDP HQ open, maintain and increase our commitments to two York County NAACP Branches, we doubled the YCDP support to the YCDP Women’s’ Council Bessie Moody Lawrence Scholarship Fund, support and sponsor the City of Rock Hill Community Relations Board’s Annual MLK Day Prayer Breakfast, and more. In 2017 the YCDP received generous donations from a donors who hadn’t contributed in years.
We have a new and active website, www.YorkSCDems.org, two Facebook Pages-York County SC Democratic Party and York County Democrats- an active Twitter account and other social media.
We are one of a handful of county political parties in the Palmetto State, Democrat or Republican, that maintains a year round headquarters.
As your Chair the Party re-instituted the quarterly precinct officers meetings so we could inform, hear from, and provide the tools to local precinct officers to win campaigns. The YCDP prepared and handed our Precinct Organization Binders, County Party Manuals, filled two vacancies on the Executive Board, heard post 2017 Special Election analysis, and prepared for 2018 by keeping people updated and informed about access to Vote Builder at the precincts level.
During the 2017 special election cycle the YCDP printed, stamped, and sent out over 4,000 targeted informational postcards on absentee voting and early in person absentee voting. The party hadn’t done such a investment in over two decades. In 2016 the party heavily invested in printing of palm cards and doorknob hangers for the entire Democratic ticket that were widely distributed throughout York County as our volunteers canvassed the precincts.
As your Chair I treat every candidate for office with equal respect. Your Chair and the YCDP has gone to extreme measures to show no bias to any candidate during a primary campaign. I have never discouraged any candidate from seeking office, quite the opposite.
As your Chair I have never missed a deadline with the SCDP or DNC when filing paperwork dealing with Party officers, Resolutions, or Delegates. I have never missed a deadline with certification filings with the York County Voter Registration and Board of Elections or the York County Clerk of Courts. I treat every single piece of Party documentation with the utmost of importance.
As your Chair I have written over fifty full length columns, been interviewed many times by local, national, and international newspapers, radio stations, and television networks. I have always been a straightforward, level headed, and articulate voice of the York County Democratic Party.
As your Chair I recognize at all times that I am the voice and face of York County Democrats and have always acted in a manner that would make us proud.
I have always applied the rules evenly to all. You could be a forty year veteran or someone who just walked in the door. Everyone is treated equally with dignity and respect by your Chair.
Much like a trusted mechanic, I keep the operations of the Party running. Like that trusted mechanic, we might not like what we hear but we know it is the honest answer on how things are kept in good running order.
As your Chair I was thrilled to see at our 2018 Precinct Reorganization meeting 127 enthusiastic dedicated Democrats representing 55 Precincts from across York County. The Party hasn’t seen such attendance in over ten years. We haven’t seen that high a number of Precincts in number or percentage represented in over twenty five years. This record success was achieved through the hard work of your Board in building and expanding our Party
For the last year I have been urging York County Democrats to become and to stay engaged in the Democratic Party. A sign of that success were those numbers and in the numbers of people running for the Executive Board. This is a sign of a healthy Party. As your Chair I do take some credit for that.
As we move forward into the critical 2018 election cycle it is more important than ever to have a tried, true, tested,level headed and trusted Chair with the experience, knowledge, and steady hands to lead our County Party.
I have earned and received your trust, support, and votes in the past. I humbly ask for that continued trust, support, and votes for one more term. I have never let you down and can promise that I never will.
Thank you so much for all you do. I look forward to working with all of you as we create a Palmetto Blue Wave in 2018.
Finally, let me add this. I have never and will never attack, dismiss, or diminish any other candidate or Democratic activist on social media or elsewhere. I have always been a positive, encouraging, and inclusive Democratic activist and leader.
Any assertion that the York County or South Carolina Democratic Party isn’t welcoming or wants to keep people out simply doesn’t make sense and is not true.
No matter the outcome of any County or State Party election or Democratic primary I rally in full support behind our chosen candidates and leaders. I always have and always will. That’s the kind of Democratic I am.
Please spare me any drama, personal attacks or petty crap on social media. As I have said at countless meetings over the last year, in my posts and writings, and at the Precinct Reorganization meeting on January 27- run for the office, run for something, present your views. Don’t run against someone. Do not run down the Party or those who have dedicated their time, treasure and talent over the years. When we disagree on issues, views, or assertions we can and will do so with respect.