By: Jackie Hardy, NDG Contributing Writer
The Dallas County Democratic Party (DCDP) looks forward to building relations within the community and excited to have Renee Hartley on board to serve as the Community Liaison. After meeting with Darlene Ewing, DCDP Chair, it became clear to Ewing that Hartley would be the ideal candidate for the job as Community Liaison.
“I think Renee represents the best in the qualities that we were looking for. She is organized and has people skills, well connected in the community and has worked on various campaigns and knows people all over the county. When you talk about a liaison you need someone who can interact with everyone within the community and not just one group; and Renee is able to do that,” remarked Ewing.
Hartley officially accepted the position as the Community Liaison in September. Hartley’s outstanding background both in the Dallas County Democratic Party and Young Democrats of America (YDA) certainly speaks for itself. Her background served as a major asset in helping to solidify her current position.
Hartley’s past and current offices range from the Regional Director for Region V of Texas Young Democrats (2006-2007); Vice Chair of Campaigns Committee for YDA (2007-2009); President of Dallas County Young Democrats (2009-2010); Volunteer Coordinator to elect Sam Coats for Dallas Mayor (2007); Vice President of YDA (2009-Present). She also served as a respected political blogger within in the local Party organization.
In her native state of Florida, Hartley learned the importance of community involvement at an early age. Being involved in the community was a value instilled in her from both her parents and grandparents. Hartley witnessed service in action first-hand as her father served in the U.S. Navy while stationed in Pensacola.
“My parents and grandparents instilled in us from a very young age the importance of voting. My Grandmother was an educator and a leader in her community. During the Jim Crow era of poll taxes and citizenship exams, my Grandmother would help her friends and neighbors learn the answers to the questions so they would be able to vote. She took her natural skills and put them to work in her community and that is what I hope to do,” said Hartley in a written response.
There will be plenty for Hartley to do in this new role; the job functions and responsibilities of the Community Liaison include outreach to the various constituencies comprising the Dallas County Democratic Party. Also, Hartley will seek to maintain a strong focus on the planning, development, and implementation of community education. Other tasks will include conducting informational meetings throughout all of Dallas county.
“Our hope is to broaden our reach to those people who share our core values as Democrats, but may not know the structure exists to help them be active and engaged citizens.”
“We want to broaden our reach across Dallas County. We want to let the general public know they have an active Democratic Party, that is here to help them get organized and get active in their community,” adds Hartley.
One of the most pressing challenges she faces is addressing the general feeling of disconnect many members within the DCDP have felt. Dallas County Democratic Party Leader Darlene Ewing recognized how the DCDP has fallen short in maintaining a sense of connection. The DCDP feels having a central point of contact such as a Community Liaison will help eliminate this issue.
“I think people are generally just turned off by the current political climate. Politics and government can get mean, ugly and unproductive. However, we can share our personal stories of how government can be a place where everyone is welcomed and no one gets left behind,” Hartley added.
“Democrats need to do a better job of communicating what we stand for and our core values of equality, opportunity and fair play for everyone. Also, we can work to demystify the political process. There is nothing mysterious or magical about becoming active in the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party is a group of committed people who took it upon themselves to become active first in their communities and then in the Party or political structure” stated Hartley.
A community as diverse as Dallas County can also result in challenges for the incoming Community Liaison. The minority population within Dallas County continues to grow. Bringing these diverse groups together to ensure equal representation of all issues is an on-going challenge.
Hartley advised, “I believe communities come together around issues that affect them and they trust people from within their communities when it comes to important matters. We have to get out there and engage the people. If we truly want our Party to reflect the diversity that is our electorate, we must meet them where they are and be relevant in their lives. We have to go to the people and ask them to join us in helping make our community better.”
Hartley’s vision is to strengthen people’s confidence in the DCDP being a trusted source for information as it relates to government and the community, while also creating an atmosphere of civic engagement, empowerment, and mobilization.
Reaching out to the party’s constituents, broadening the party’s base (i.e. younger and infrequent voters), and remaining true to the DCDP values through open communication of what the DCDP stand for and want to accomplish for Dallas County. These are just a few of Hartley’s goals to aid in achieving the DCDP’s vision.
Hartley shared her current focus is voter education. She wants to get the word about the new identification requirements set to become effective tentatively at the first of the year. According to Hartley, this new law is still under review by the Department of Justice. The Texas Secretary of State has not issued the final guidelines. Meanwhile, the DCDP are preparing to educate the community to ensure the voting public have the needed information and empowered with the right information when going to the polls in 2012.
“So much of our lives are touched by the hand of government. It only makes sense to pause and take a moment to find out how it affects you. There is a famous saying…decisions are made by those who show up. Show up, be counted and make your voice heard because that is the only thing our elected representatives on any level will respond to,” added Hartley.
For those interested in getting involved with the Dallas County Democratic Party, contact the DCDP office at 214-821-8331 or visit www.dallasdemocrats.org. For information regarding upcoming community outreach events, email Renee Hartley at email@example.com.