Letter: The Local “Machine”

In your informative article regarding what it takes to be on the ballot (Who’s Not on the Ballot, Sept. 9), Beacon council member Ali Muhammad, who hoped to challenge Assemblyman Frank Skartados, said that “you need a machine behind you” with respect to the nitty gritty groundwork of getting petitions signed by registered party members.

As treasurer of the Beacon Democratic Committee, I would like to point out this so-called “machine” is made up of many individuals dedicated to public service and willing to do the hard work of going door-to-door to get signatures for candidates we have endorsed, including Skartados, Terry Gipson for the State Senate and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for Congress. If an aspiring candidate cannot organize enough people to do that unglamorous work, perhaps he or she does not have the support necessary to serve his or her constituency successfully.

Prudence Posner, Beacon

Editor’s Note: Muhammad’s full quote was, “You need a machine behind you, and that’s what good about the [party] committees. They do a lot of the groundwork.” Earlier this year, the Beacon Democratic Committee asked Muhammad to resign, at least temporarily, if he wished to endorse the Independence Party’s Randy Casale for mayor. He declined but in May left the county Democratic committee before announcing his Assembly campaign.

One thought on “Letter: The Local “Machine”

  1. As an executive member of the Beacon Democratic Committee I would also like to add that this “machine” is no more than local volunteers. They are not compensated for their work in any way. What they do is a labor of love — one that I take great pride and invest great time in. On the local level the party IS the people. Our party, the Beacon Democrats, is one of the most inclusive, if not the most inclusive Democratic entity in the county (perhaps even state!). We accept Democrats of all kinds, and we are acquiring new advisory members from outside of Beacon such as Fishkill because Beacon’s Democratic Committee is more inclusive than Fishkill’s Democratic Committee.

    We are also quite diverse. Our oldest member is about 73, and the youngest, myself, is 20. I joined at 19 years old. I ran for City Council in 2015 and plan on doing so in 2017, too. I have pounded the pavement for candidates I believe in, and respectfully declined to aid Democratic-endorsed candidates that I did not believe in. I am one of these volunteers. I am not a “machine” or ‘part’ of a “machine,” nor is any member of our committee. We are people. We are organized activists. We believe in being active in our community.

    Most Democratic entities don’t open their meetings to the public. We do, and we even allow members of the public to become advisory members. This allows members of the public who are registered Democrats and want to become advisory members to vote during situations where the 18 executive committee members vote and there is a tie. The Beacon Democrats made the open government Beacon has, its four wards, two-year councilman terms, the Beacon Pool and more possible. We are independent from the Dutchess County Democratic Committee. To illustrate this for example, we still haven’t endorsed a candidate for president, and we are allowing our members to individually support who they want although the Dutchess County Democratic Committee endorsed Hillary Clinton.

    The funds we raise, the signs we order, the palm cards we order, the social media accounts we have, the outreach we have, etc- All of these things are done by volunteers in the city of Beacon with the exception of one Fishkill resident who is an advisory member of our committee. We have much to be proud of. There is a reason why people become part of us. I am honored to build on such an amazing legacy. Our growth is evidence that many others agree, too.