PA Meetings on April 29 - Please join us!
At 6:30 p.m. on April 29, PA “Chapter” and PA PAC will hold back-to-back virtual meetings. Our business is important and we hope you can attend!
For historical reasons we call the People’s Alliance 501(c)(4) organization the “Chapter.” It is the wing of PA that works on issue politics and is the parent of PA’s several action teams. At our meeting on April 29th, the Chapter's leadership will review various items with members –more details to come. Following the Chapter meeting, PA PAC will meet. Under elections and tax laws, the chapter and the PAC must operate as separate organizations, but they share the same membership – all of us. This PA PAC meeting is important because we will endorse a candidate to fill a coming vacancy on Durham’s Superior Court Bench.
Superior Court Judge Endorsement
After a professional career lasting nearly forty years and devoted almost entirely to public service, Judge Jim Hardin will retire on May 1. Universally respected for his firmness, fairness, patience, and judicial temperament, Judge Hardin has always earned PA PAC’s endorsement. We thank him for his service and congratulate him on a well-deserved retirement.
But the vacancy he leaves on Durham’s bench deserves PA’s attention. Governor Cooper must appoint a suitable candidate to fill Judge Hardin’s seat. PA PAC must weigh in on that decision and urge the Governor to appoint the best candidate to serve Durham. We will make that decision together at our meeting on the 29th. Already the PAC Coordinators are organizing candidate questionnaires and calendaring candidate interviews. The PAC will share questionnaire responses here when the candidates have completed them. At the meeting, the interview committee will make their report and share their recommendation. Then our membership will debate and vote on who among the candidates we will recommend to Governor Cooper.
Candidates interested in the PA PAC’s endorsement process are urged to contact PA PAC coordinator Tom Miller right away.
Tom’s e-mail address is [email protected].
Endorsement Meeting Logistics
Like all endorsement business of the PAC, only current members of PA may participate in the meeting. Members who joined PA the first time before February 27, 2021, may speak and vote on endorsement business. These members who have not renewed their PA dues in 2021 should do so right away. Members who have joined PA the very first time after February 27 may attend the meeting and speak when called upon, but they may not vote at this, their first endorsement meeting.
After this meeting, they will always be able to renew their memberships and vote in all subsequent endorsement meetings. For more information on PAC endorsement meetings and voting rules, check out the FAQ section on this webpage.
Unlike for in-person meetings, we will not be able to accept membership renewals "at the door" so that it's possible to limit virtual attendance to current members. Please renew your membership or join by April 25th at 11:59pm in order to attend. Register here by April 25th at 11:59pm to attend the meeting. Registrants can expect to receive instructions for joining the Zoom call by April 27. Please don't wait to mark your calendar for the meeting date on the 29th. PAC will pay the first $35 (add or $50 if a household membership) of your gift to the Chapter for your dues if you have not already paid since January 1.
PA PAC Coordinator Elections
Under the PAC bylaws, PA PAC is governed by two or more coordinators elected by the membership in off-numbered years. At our meeting on the 29th, we will hold PAC coordinator elections. The PAC coordinator job is not an easy one. PAC coordinators are volunteers who work together as a team all year round as PA’s eyes and ears in electoral politics.
Under the PAC’s bylaws, only the membership may endorse a candidate. It is the duty of the coordinators to use the PAC’s resources and influence to aid the membership in making an informed decision. Once the membership has endorsed a candidate, it is the duty of the coordinators to get the membership’s candidate elected.
Duties include: planning and executing election strategy; organizing endorsement meetings for approximately 500 People’s Alliance members; coordinating and serving on candidate interview committees; producing an endorsement mailer for over 40,000 Durham voters; managing and analyzing voter registration and election data; managing the PAC website, communicating with members and candidates about the endorsement process; and raising an annual PAC budget of $40-50,000 per year.
Coordinators should be able to commit at least 10-15 hours per week, including a weekly in-person meeting. Coordinators should also be available to provide frequent and timely responses to daily PAC-related emails, texts and social media posts from other coordinators, the PA board, PA members, the press, candidates, and elected officials. Coordinators must be able to commit to supporting a fair and impartial endorsement process that gives new candidates and incumbents an equal chance at receiving the PA endorsement and ensuring that the voices of all members are included, heard and respected.
Our current coordinators are:
Milo Pyne began his career as a PAC coordinator in 2001 purely because no one else would do it! After Milo recruited Tom Miller the thing began to take off. PA PAC helped Bill Bell defeat Tennyson in 2001, elected Diane Catotti in 2003, and gradually shifted the City Council and County Commission in a more progressive direction. Milo is a native of Durham and a recently-retired Ecologist; he began his political career in 1965 as the President of the Durham Teen-Dems. He assists with bookkeeping, pollwork, candidate interviews, and institutional memory; he is happy to be part of an increasingly diverse PA PAC.
Tom Miller became active with PA back in the 1980s when Sharon Thompson first ran for the NC House. When Milo Pyne recruited Tom to be a PAC coordinator twenty years ago, the two set out to steadily grow PA’s resources and PAC’s influence. A life-long Durhamite, Tom is retired from a long career with the NC Attorney General’s Office. For PAC, Tom handles budgets and fundraising, helps coordinate the candidate endorsement process, assists with mass mailings, and supports pollwork efforts. Tom is retiring from the PAC Coordinator team this year, but will continue to support and volunteer all of PAC’s efforts.
Nana Asante Smith
Rochelle Sparko has been a PA PAC Coordinator since 2018. A lawyer, Rochelle provided direct legal services for low-income people for nearly a decade and now works on state-level consumer protection policy. She's been a Durham resident since 2008. The PA is her political home because of its commitments to economic justice, affordable housing, and LGBTQ rights.For PAC, Rochelle manages volunteers, supports pollworkers, and does her best with PAC's online communications.
Jeb Dennis has been a Durham resident since 2013. He has been a public defender for the last five years. He joined the PA in 2017 and has enjoyed his last two years as a PA PAC Coordinator.
Yesenia L. Polanco-Galdamez is an attorney representing clients in the areas of Immigration and Criminal Defense. She and her family emigrated from El Salvador to the U.S. in the early 1980's and she has called North Carolina home since the early 90's. Yesenia is committed to public service. She serves on the Durham Expungement and License Restoration Program Advisory Board, the Durham Bar Association Board of Directors, and the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board. For PAC, Yesenia has been active with candidate endorsements and coordinating and presiding over PAC meetings.
Milo, Nana, Rochelle, and Yesenia are offering themselves for re-election.
The number of coordinators beyond two is not fixed and is determined by whom the members elect in odd-numbered years. In recent years the number of coordinators has ranged from four to six and this has worked well. Coordinators need to meet and share duties efficiently. Coordinators meet regularly and apportion out tasks. Decisions are made by consensus. As a team, the coordinators need to be nimble. Organizational energy needs to focus outward on the PAC’s major tasks and not expended internally organizing the coordinators themselves.
Anyone interested in offering themselves as a coordinator is encouraged to contact Nana Asante-Smith at [email protected] right away. All candidates will be introduced on this webpage as soon as possible.
At our meeting on April 29, the membership will consider a number of proposed changes to the PAC bylaws. The changes, if adopted, would allow the PAC to give notice of meetings by posting them on the PAC’s website and emailing the notice to members. Notice given this way would have be done at least twenty-one (21) days in advance of the meeting to make sure news of the meeting has time to filter among members. Under the current rules, notice must be give via US mail five days before the meeting. With PA’s growing membership, mailing notices eats up a lot of volunteer energy and printing and postage has become very expensive. The PAC’s coordinators would rather spend PAC time, effort and money (contributed by the members) electing endorsed candidates and not on meeting notices. Under the proposed changes, the five-day mailed notice will remain an option and may be useful in those situations when the 21-day requirement is problematic. The other change proposed is to clarify that a PAC meeting held virtually by zoom or some similar means is an “in person” meeting as contemplated by the bylaws.
You can always find the current version of the PA PAC Bylaws at the FAQ section of this website.