2 December 2002

Re: Getting involved


Dear Delegate:

I am writing to you in your capacity as a delegate or alternate to the City Convention in June 2002. I am not running for anything, I am not asking for money, and I am not campaigning for anyone else. I am writing in order to say Thank you, to let you know about the projects that we are planning for the coming year, and to invite your participation.

On the first of this month, the officers that you elected at the City Convention took office, and I began a new term as Chair. Thank you very much for reelecting me, and for electing the great crew of colleagues that I will be working with: Associate Chair Judy Melanson, Secretary Julie Mattson Ostrow, Treasurer Timothy M. Bonham, Affirmative Action Officer Rosie Turner, Finance Director Andrew Hauer, and Directors Becky Boland and Wil Nynas. For the first time in many years, there are neither municipal nor legislative elections scheduled next year so, throughout the fall, I have been looking forward to the coming New Year as an opportunity for Party-building and long-range planning.

Throughout the state, the DFLers who won contested elections with the most votes were right here in Minneapolis:

1. 1,180,738 votes Mike Hatch, Attorney General

2. 59,224 votes Judy Farmer, Minneapolis School Board

3. 45,729 votes Audrey Johnson, Minneapolis School Board

4. 44,053 votes Colleen Moriarty, Minneapolis School Board

5. 31,830 votes Joseph Erickson, Minneapolis School Board

6. 26,695 votes Dick Cohen, State Senator District 64

Minneapolis voters also elected their DFL-endorsed legislators. Congratulations to all the endorsed candidates, and thank you to all the candidates and volunteers whose hard work resulted in their victories.

Open meetings. But statewide and nationwide, the Minneapolis returns were one bright spot in an otherwise dismal election. Since the election, I have averaged several calls or messages a day from other DFLers looking for ways both of venting and of planning a constructive use of the impending time in exile. Interestingly, about half the DFLers that I have heard from are not the usual suspects—not Party insiders, not Central Committee members, just faithful voters who don’t understand why the Party fared so poorly at the polls. After consulting the other officers and senate-district chairs, I am calling two open meetings as a forum for these discussions:

I am not envisioning any agenda, just a forum for talking, listening, and reasoning together. The Central Committee has adopted ground rules, available online at www.mpls.dfl.org, for making these meetings as open as possible. Please join us.

Minority outreach. My top priority for the New Year is better outreach to communities of color—particularly emerging immigrant communities, such as Ethiopians, Hmong, and Somalis. If you are interested in this project, or if you can suggest organizations or leaders who ought to be approached, please contact me or the Affirmative Action Officer, Rosie Turner.

History project. Three decades ago, the DFL Party took over the Republican-dominated City Council by organizing in the wards, which for a long time were thriving centers of activism and socializing. But the ward organizations atrophied when the Party shifted its focus to the Legislature and began organizing through senate districts instead of wards, and the DFL-led Council helped establish neighborhood organizations. The generation that captured the Council and the Legislature is retiring now, but their stories are fascinating—not only as history, but as the genesis of today’s politics. I have been working with the Hennepin History Museum and the Minnesota Historical Society on starting a collection for the City Party’s archives. Please let me know if you can contribute any documents or stories, or if you can suggest any activists who may be interested in contributing.

Constitution review. The City Party must draft a new bylaw in light of the constitutional amendment that the 2001 Convention adopted, requiring new precinct caucuses for ward elections in odd-numbered years. I will be appointing a commission for that purpose, and for the purpose of reviewing the constitution and bylaws generally. Please let me know if you are interested in serving.

Listserve. For the City Party, I have set up an electronic distribution list, open to any interested member. If you are interested in joining the list, please write to me at brian.melendez@usa.net. You can also find information about the City Party—including the constitution, bylaws, and directory, agendas and minutes, and records from past conventions—on Tim Bonham’s webpage at www.mpls.dfl.org.

Once again, thank you very much. Please call or write me if you have any questions. Best wishes for a blessed and joyous holiday season. May the New Year be not only better than the year ending, but better than all that have gone before, and the first of many such years.

Very truly yours,



Brian Melendez


No Party funds were spent on this mailing. The photocopying and postage were donated.