r-PUNK-CHAOS-TO-COUTURE-large570Today I posted my FB status as: It’s way past time for political parties to end the “elected official” leadership model. I can’t imagine a bigger conflict of interest or a less effective group of folks to serve an organization 

In record time, text, email and FB messages to me over my status almost broke the internet (not really)  It was somewhat related to this article, but more to do with a response to a person seeking my support to run for one of the DPG’s top seven leadership positions.

What you’re not totally following that crap? Ok then, let me back up:

Next month the Democratic Party of Georgia will hold it’s Leadership elections. I’m hearing a last saturday in January date being floated. Friends of this blog know there was a time when this day could not have come soon enough. A lot has happened since the ignominious resignation of our former chair, who’s name won’t be spoken, but who I will link to here, here and here.  Please click on all those links, because yeah “google” also needs to remember that crap.

Once he was gone, amazing individuals stepped up to lead the organization in the interim and then were elected to filled his unexpired term through the election season. Both are running for re-election and I will happily support them.

Others, not so much.

Challengers are lining up for the Leadership posts, in hilarious and not so hilarious ways. I’m entirely sure a few of them don’t know that it’s a thankless volunteer position that will personally cost them thousands in the next four years.

I penned a letter to one of those challengers, and then I decided in the interest of transparency,  and full disclosure I’d  post it here.  I regret nothing and have felt this way for 10 years. Plus, I can link to this when the next elected official solicits my vote. Boom.

Dear -Insert Elected Official Here,

I’m glad you’re interested in being involved with the Democratic Party of Georgia. We certainly can use all hands on deck! Your election was truly a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy last couple of years.

The party absolutely needs all of us to be working on the action items you’ve identified. (now my eyes roll to the heavens, seriously everyone says this crap when they are running-not in actual email)

I will be happy to sign on as one of your 30 signatures, giving you the opportunity to make your case to the State Committee. I believe we should always give folks the opportunity to run. ( the need to get 30 signatures denotes someone not currently serving on the Democratic Party of Georgia’s State Committee)

My signature however does not include a vote for you as XYZPDQ position.

While I welcome your involvement, and leadership, I strongly believe that Elected Officials should not be leading our party in any of the top roles. I will try to explain, and please understand that this has been my view for many years. My thoughts also extend to the DNC, they too need to be free from the elected official leadership model, Rep. Wasserman-Schultz & Sen. Tim Kaine are our most recent disastrous examples.

In my opinion, serving as a volunteer Vice Chair of XYZPDQ  would automatically create a few conflicts of interest:

  • As one of your constituents, should I have to question who you are serving? If I voted for you to represent me, my expectation is that you’ll be spending your time serving my local community, and not a statewide organization.
  • As your constituent I also find it problematic that you were elected as non-partisan XYZPDQ, and now will be in a leadership role with a partisan organization.
  • How would that work seeking legislative support or state funding from GOP dominated control?
  • In the role of XYPDQ Chair, a extreme scenario, would you worry about recruiting, training, and financially suporting someone who could potentially run against you, even if it’s in the best interest of the party?
  • If you are raising money, would you be able to put the needs of the DPG ahead of your own come election time?

I don’t think these are questions anyone should have to ask.

Georgia has a long history of “selecting” it’s leadership and not “electing” them. I use the word “select” deliberately, because until 2004 the DPG State Committee and County Committees had no autonomy from the Governor’s mansion and it’s significant power structure. A seat on the State Committee historically was only accountable to a handful of Democratic power players and no others. Leadership simply did not serve without the patronage of the Governor or other elected officials.

Unintentional, intentional it hardly matters because what it caused is a enormous disconnect from local county committees and almost all affiliated organizations. As you travel around the state seeking votes, it won’t be long before you’ll see how entrenched that mindset still is, 174 years of that behavior bring us largely where we find ourself today.

There are 40+ people on the DPG Executive Committee, many of them have seats at the table because they are elected officials. In the 10 years I’ve been involved, I noticed that they contribute little, perform their duties poorly and in several cases have caused severe embarrassment to the organization. Your fellow elected officials have completely soured me on supporting any additional members of that club, as bright and capable as I believe you are!

If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to give me a call. I believe that we all have a role to play getting the Democratic Party competitive again. I have thoughts about how we can help each other get there.

Again, if you would like to include my name with the 30 to get you on the ballot-you are welcome to.

Juliana Illari
Cobb County Democratic Committee member
Cobb County State Committee member
Vice Chair- 6th Congressional District


Let me say it again: it’s way past time for political parties to end the “elected official” leadership model. I can’t imagine a bigger conflict of interest or a less effective group of folks to serve an organization.

Do hospitals hire the best heart surgeon to run it? No, they hire someone who is the best administrator. DUH




One Response to Just My Opinion

  1. Jen B. says:

    Thanks, Juliana. I hope this provokes some conversation within the Democratic ranks! Elected officials are often so concerned with their own re-election that they will not tackle the big issues that leadership should try and push forward. Although I wouldn’t say that this conflict of interest is inherent, it seems to pop up a lot in Georgia.