By Bill Guy
Del Mar CTA members Genevieve Chapluk and Andrea Sleet.
“Even though it was formed only a few months ago, our recently created political action committee is already giving our association a more positive and productive image — both among our members and in the Del Mar community,” says Del Mar California Teachers Association (DMCTA) President David Skinner.
The political action committee (PAC) was initiated in January by a core group of DMCTA members at the urging of Skinner and DMCTA Vice President Danielle Roche after they participated in a CTA conference outlining the valuable contributions a PAC could add to a local chapter’s programs.
“The workshop clearly showed me how a PAC might help us with some of the challenges I faced serving as the local association’s president,” says Skinner.
“The workshop helped me understand that forming a PAC could help ensure a more formal process for political engagement,” says Roche. “Our hope was that a PAC might help us develop as a local chapter, taking us to a higher level of engagement that would encourage greater member participation and foster a passion for more involvement in political issues. And we’re already seeing that happen.”
DMCTA members note that developing a PAC has multiple benefits for associations. It can expand internal organizing capacity in a way that supports other organizing activities, as well as bargaining; help recruit and elect board members who your association can work with toward joint goals and who support your association’s mission; and increase your reach into and involvement with the community and create opportunities for coalition relationships.
“Del Mar has always been a community where parental support of the schools is evident,” says DMCTA and PAC member Deborah Hanna, “but when times are good, it’s easy to get complacent. As we all know, times are not so good now for California’s state budget, and it’s inevitable that the resulting issues are affecting Del Mar. We decided that it would be better to do something proactive — like forming a PAC — to help us be in a better position for positive action, rather than just passively waiting to see what happens.”
Former DMCTA president and PAC member Carol Sharpe explained another impetus for initiating a PAC.
“Until fairly recently, the relatively small number of members in our association meant that if we wanted to interview school board election candidates for a possible association endorsement, we could just have an all-member forum, inviting the candidates to address our entire membership,” says Sharpe. “But association membership growth resulting from increased student enrollment in the district has made such informal arrangements unwieldy and impractical. The PAC provides us the organization and structure for efficiently interviewing candidates and learning about important local and state political and legislative issues. Then we can provide our members and the public with valuable information to consider when they make their voting choices.”
With guidance and assistance from CTA Governmental Relations staff, the 11 members of the Del Mar PAC have set both short-term and long-range goals with timelines and due dates for completion.
“We have a solid core of members currently involved in the PAC,” says Hanna, “and now we believe it’s time to reach out to other Del Mar members, encouraging them to get involved.”
For information or assistance on setting up a local PAC for your association, contact your primary contact staff person and/or your regional political organizer.