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Political Notebook: CA Dems elect gay man as chair

by Matthew S. Bajko

Eric Bauman delivered his speech at the California state<br>Democratic convention Saturday. Photo: Courtesy Facebook
Eric Bauman delivered his speech at the California state
Democratic convention Saturday. Photo: Courtesy Facebook  

A gay man is now the chair of the California Democratic Party, marking the first time in the history of the 171-year-old state party that it has been led by an out LGBT leader.

During the party's convention last weekend in Sacramento, Eric Bauman emerged the winner in the hotly contested race to become the party's new chairman. Bauman is the first openly LGBT person to head either major political party in the Golden State.

Former party chair John Burton, a former state lawmaker, opted not to seek re-election. And even though it was an open secret that Burton's predecessor Art Torres , who led the California Democratic Party for 13 years, was gay, Torres did not come out publicly until after he stepped down in 2009.

Leading up to the election Saturday, May 20, Bauman was fighting off a strong challenge from Richmond resident Kimberly Ellis , an African-American married mother of two who had served until recently as executive director of Emerge California, which trains Democratic women to run for political office.

The race had turned into a battle for control of the country's largest state Democratic Party between moderates, who backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential race, and progressives, who championed the presidential bid of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders , an independent who ran to be the Democratic Party's standard bearer.

Bauman beat Ellis by 62 votes, according to the state party, though she had yet to concede the race as of the Bay Area Reporter's deadline Wednesday morning. On Tuesday representatives of both candidates were reviewing the credentials of those who voted to ensure their ballots were valid after Ellis requested an audit of the vote.

In his statement released shortly after the vote count was announced Saturday night, Bauman acknowledged the divisions within the Democratic Party he will face if he remains chair.

"Regardless of the outcome of today's election, and regardless of the fact that we have proven that California is the one place in the nation that knows how to do it right â€" there is no denying that there is a problem when so many of our hardworking activists feel that they are not welcome within our party and that they have been slighted and shut out of the process," stated Bauman. "We cannot win the vital elections in 2018 and beyond without the energy, commitment and participation of every part of our Democratic family."

He added that he looks "forward to working with each and every one of you. Now let's go show America and the world what it means to be a Democrat!"

In a statement released Monday, the Ellis campaign requested that Burton remain as chair until the audit was completed, though Bauman took over as chair on Sunday.

"It is critical that the delegation has confidence in the outcome of this chair's race so that we might move forward, irrespective of whomever wins. Should the election results stand, we will congratulate Eric on his well-earned success," stated the Ellis campaign. " Eric Bauman has every interest in proving the election was fair and untainted."

For years the vice chair of the state party, Bauman has chaired the Los Angeles County Democratic Party since 2000. Formerly a registered nurse, Bauman in recent years has worked as the senior adviser to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles), directing the Speaker's Office of Member Services.

Bauman, 58, lives in North Hollywood with his husband, Michael Andraychak, also a former registered nurse who now works as a product manager at Healthland, a health care software company that focuses on rural hospitals. A few weeks prior to the convention, Bauman alleged in an email to the delegates that he had been falsely accused of engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with teenage boys, which the couple vigorously denied.

"I'm proud that he won by running a clean campaign and he stayed on the high road," Andraychak wrote of his husband in a Facebook post Sunday. "He didn't have to play dirty, even though there was plenty of dirt to toss around. No amount of wrangling, recounts, or audits will change the results."

Contra Costa LGBT Dem club chartered

The first LGBT Democratic club to form in Contra Costa County has been officially recognized by the county Democratic Party.

As the B.A.R. first reported in February, LGBT Democratic leaders in the East Bay county decided the time was right to launch their own political group. As more LGBT residents have moved into the sprawling county in search of cheaper housing, a growing number have sought political office in its 19 cities.

After the November election there are now four out city council members and one school board member in Contra Costa County. And next year could see a lesbian win an open Assembly seat that includes Richmond, the largest city in West Contra Costa County.

At its May 18 meeting the Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee voted to approve the charter for the Lambda LGBTQI Democratic Club of Contra Costa County. The club has now formed a Municipal Equality Index committee whose goal is to see that the county's two cities that are scored on the LGBT report card issued by the Human Rights Campaign, Concord and Richmond, improve their scores. On the 2016 MEI Concord scored 61 out of 100, while Richmond's score was 83.

The Lambda club is also creating its own scorecard for all of the municipalities in the county to ensure they have LGBT-friendly policies in place. Meanwhile, the club's Legislative Committee is asking all 19 of Contra Costa County's cities to ban city-funded travel to states that have laws that discriminate against the LGBTQI community, similar to the policy enacted by the state of California.

"Our communities need representation from the East to the West part of our county and everywhere in between," stated Lambda club chair and co-founder Cesar Zepeda, who lost his bid last fall for a Richmond City Council seat. "We will help our elected officials become more aware and inclusive to help protect our most vulnerable in our society."

To learn more about the Lambda club and how to join, visit http://www.LambdaDemocrats.com .

SF planning surveys public about outreach

Should the San Francisco Planning Department be more proactive in alerting the public about various development projects and zoning issues? That is the focus of an online survey the agency is conducting.

Despite the notification requirements builders of large developments and homeowners undertaking remodel projects, not to mention business owners moving into vacant storefronts, are required to follow, oftentimes those notices go unread or are only mailed to a small amount of adjacent property owners, leaving the rest of the neighborhood unaware.

Noe Valley residents in recent years have been particularly vocal about the need for planning staff to better engage the community about upcoming hearings before the planning commission or zoning changes under discussion.

Now, the planning department is asking city residents to fill out a short survey to better gauge how people would like to interact with it and be appraised of the work it is doing. The answers it receives "will help refine our community outreach and education efforts for everyone," the department said in a recent email asking people to fill out the survey.

"We're looking for your feedback on what interests you about land-use planning, how you would like to receive information, and how we can be more accessible to you and your neighbors," stated the email.

The survey will remain live through June 1 and should take five minutes to complete. It can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFPlanningOutreach . To request a hard copy of the survey be sent via mail, email planningnews@sfgov.org .

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on legislative staffers in Sacramento creating the first LGBT association in the nation based as a statehouse.

 

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes .

 

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail mailto:m.bajko@ebar.com.

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