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North Adams Democrats to hold hybrid caucus Saturday to pick city reps for June state convention

 North Adams Democratic City Committee logo
North Adams Democratic City Committee
North Adams Democratic City Committee

The North Adams Democrats will hold a caucus Saturday at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. At the hybrid event, representatives from each of the city’s five wards will be elected to attend the state Democratic convention in Worcester starting June 3rd. Communications and Social Media Committee Chair Alicia Reddin spoke to WAMC about the event, the role of the representatives, and why the party is encouraging traditionally marginalized groups to participate.

REDDIN: Typically what happens is, we have a welcoming. It's going to be a short video, which is going to consist of some housekeeping items, tell you a little bit about why we're here, a little bit about the fees associated – not fees for the caucus, of course, but if elected a delegate, there is a state committee fee – any other information, we have some different statewide candidates that have made statements, so they've sent in some videos. So there'll be a little bit of housekeeping things at the beginning, then we will break off into wards. So Ward 1 will have a designated space, Ward 2, Ward 3, Ward 4, and Ward 5. At that point, the ward chairs – which can be found on our Facebook page, if anybody is curious about who their ward chair is – ward chairs will ask who is running for a delegate spot. At that point, they can make a pitch for their candidacy. Ward chairs will open up voting and whoever gets the most votes- Each ward has a lot of a certain amount of delegates, and, you know, whoever gets those spots gets to go.

WAMC: What exactly is the duty of the delegate when they make it to the convention?

So this year is an actual- It's a nominating year. So every other year is a nominating year. This year, we have folks that are running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. So they come to the convention, those folks that are running, they pitch themselves, they speak about why they're running, and then you as a representative will actually be voting for who you want the state party to endorse.

When it comes to picking these delegates from the North Adams community- In years past, how have you seen people articulate why they would be the best pick for the community?

Well, that all depends. Sometimes it's, you know, I've been involved in politics for a long time and I'm very passionate. Sometimes it's, I'm brand new to the area and I really want to make a difference here in my community. Sometimes it's, you know, I've been watching the changes, and I've never been super involved in politics myself, but I've been following it and I really want my voice to be heard. There's a whole bunch of different reasons to get involved. And we encourage everyone to have their voice be heard and come out. And you don't even- You know, if you're not interested in running as a delegate, we encourage you to come out and hear other people's pitches and vote for who you want to represent you in your ward and at the state convention.

The press release has a line about encouraging folks from traditionally underrepresented communities being particularly encouraged to apply for this process. From your vantage point and the Mass Dems’ vantage point, what is the purpose and the desired goal of encouraging that kind of participation from groups like that?

The fact is, these are voices that we don't often get participating in traditional politics. I myself am a member of multiple underrepresented populations that are listed, and it doesn't always feel as welcoming. And in the past. I think that depending on where you live and depending on the makeup of committees, it can be intimidating sometimes. And so we definitely want to make sure that we are encouraging people who may not feel as welcome or may not feel that their voice is represented or heard. The Mass Democratic Party has made it a point to create committees to encourage this type of participation. We have veteran subcommittees, I myself am a veteran. We have subcommittees on LGBTQ+ issues, I'm also a member of that. We have a whole bunch of different subcommittees that are really focused on encouraging as much- We want our party to be a true representation of what the United States and Massachusetts is reflective of.

Is there anything about the coming North Adams Democratic caucus I haven't thought to ask you that you think it's important for folks to understand?

I think that it is really important for- Well, about the caucus specifically, is that we are taking all safety precautions. It will be held on the campus, so we will be masking. It is more than enough space. Each ward will be broken out in separate classrooms with more than enough social distancing space, so we want to make sure that people understand that we are absolutely putting their safety first. The other thing that I really want people to keep in mind is that this is their opportunity to be the change that they want to see. At the end of the day, this is our party, this is our community, and this is our chance to go to Worcester and on the state stage have our voices heard. I think that all too often the Berkshires gets left out of conversations, we get left out of development. I don't feel that we have a voice that is strong enough when it comes to policies and things that get said in Boston. And it's about time that we have some loud and proud voices from the Berkshires, from North Adams that are out there and having these conversations.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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