Hi there, Nicholas Hatten here. Ye of McNerney ’06 and ’08 campaigns and Stockton’s Drinking Liberally. First time poster but long time lurker. What’s got me so excited that I’ve decided to break my lurking streak? Well, the awesomeness that is San Joaquin County’s LGBT community.
A year ago this month I moved back to the lovely city of Stockton after a decade long love affair with the Bay Area and re-discovering the Central Valley during my time with Team McNerney. Now I was already aware of how progressive leaders like Councilmember Susan Eggman (LGBT icon), Jerry & Carol Bailey (single payer icons), Martha Gamez (uber-grassroots icon) and others had helped change the landscape of politics in the Central Valley. What I wasn’t aware of was how much the LGBT had matured and evolved into a political force during my time away.
More following the flip…
A refresher course might be in order for some. A few years back Progressive Punch’s Joshua Grossman did an excellent job explaining the potential for the progressive movement within San Joaquin County. Since that post, San Joaquin County has seen all of its federal and state elected officials carry over to the blue category with the exception of one. In 2008, Asm. Huber & Asm. Buchanan won previously Republican seats, joining Asm. Galgiani in Sacramento and leaving Asm. Bill Berryhill as the sole Republican voice. Additionally, the city of Stockton successfully swore in progressive Ann Johnston as its mayor. During this time, the Central Valley Stonewall Democratic Club joined the more established Truman Club as a top fundraising machine and helped not only Mayor Johnston get elected but also Stonewall members and now Stockton Unified School District trustee Colleen Boardman and Lincoln Unified School District trustee Van Ha To-Cowell. Not bad for a club only in its third year of existence.
Sadly, the 2008 election wasn’t a complete success for the progressive community in San Joaquin County. Despite the before mentioned inroads, an overwhelming victory for President Obama, the re-election of Rep. Jerry McNerney and a democratic voter registration advantage; Proposition 8 easily won in San Joaquin County with a solid 65 percent majority.
So what have teh [Central Valley] gays been up to since then? Well, in 2009 the University of Pacific formed an annual Northern California LGBT conference that invites students and the general public to discuss issues that affect the LGBT community. Elena Kelly, transgender activist organized San Joaquin’s first ever Transgender Day of Remembrance! service, a powerful and emotional evening memorializing the victims of transgender violence. Recently, a group of energetic youths have launched the Courage Campaign San Joaquin Equality Team and are hosting a fun Mardi Gras meet and greet on April 30th.
And what about the Central Valley Stonewall Democratic Club? Some of you might remember them holding Republican and congressional candidate Mike Berryhill accountable for his homophobic comments last month. They recently hosted their most successful fundraiser with LGBT activist and former congressional candidate Anthony Woods as a keynote speaker, endorsed a new round of candidates and are currently hosting a successful series of community forums, like January’s LGBT youth forum, and this weekend’s Toward Harmony: A Discussion of Race, Religion and Sexuality.
After initially being mentored by the Sacramento Stonewall Club, the Stockton based CV Stonewall Club is now paying it forward and is now helping the Stanislaus LGBT community, one of the largest gay communities per capita in the nation (and a county that voted 68 percent in favor of Prop. 8) politically organize by hosting Stanislaus Stonewall Chapter planning meetings . The Central Valley Stonewall Democratic Club members are doing the hard work that Joshua Grossman suggested in his 2007 blog.
So that’s what’s got me so excited this early morning. The vibe out here reminds me of 2005 when progressives all over California joined forces with the environmental community and sent Richard Pombo packing. With two assembly seats (Buchanan, Huber) being defended and a possible blue pick up (Berryhill), a hot state senate race in Stanislaus County and all the LGBT community outreach, it is an exciting time to be a progressive in San Joaquin County and the Central Valley.
Full disclosure, since returning to Stockton last year, despite their better judgement, I was appointed the Vice-President of the CV Stonewall Club. Please don’t hold that against them. 😀