My Life in the Democratic Party

As I was luxuriating in the afterglow from submitting petitions yesterday (and thanks to my wonderful supporters, I turned in 158 signatures in only one week of collecting them), it suddenly hit me:  I didn’t happen to mention here that I am running as a Democrat!

So here it is, the official story.

I’m running for the nomination (City Council, 5th Ward) in the Democratic Party primary of August 7, 2012.

And yes, I’ve always been a Democrat and proud of it.  Here is a little of my history.

  • First vote: as a college student, voted for Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater, 1964. (Students were not allowed to vote in local elections at that time, something I took note of).
  • First political contribution: to Eugene McCarthy in 1968 ($5, a significant fraction of my monthly income at the time).
  • First participation in a political process: knocking on doors for Hubert Humphrey later in 1968, after the antics at the Democratic convention tore the party apart.
  • First real sacrifice for politics: 1972, knocking on doors for McGovern in the midst of a doctoral research program (my professor didn’t really understand).  We also donated $200, which was nearly half a month’s income.
  • Vivienne Armentrout in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, about 1975

    First movement into a Party organizational position (1976) while still in graduate school, knocked on doors to help elect Jimmy Carter.  My husband and I were named delegate and alternate to the Wisconsin state convention and later to the Governor’s electoral ball.  (No finery involved, it was very down-home.)

  • First serious responsibility in a Party office: In 1980, extreme frustration and unhappiness about Ronald Reagan’s changes to the American landscape drove me  into a congressional campaign office (our candidate lost in a strongly Republican district) and then, in 1982, to help reorganize the local Democratic club.  I became president of the North Shores Democratic club (North San Diego County) and built it into a strong regional organization, partly through assembling a list of Democrats who had been involved in various local campaigns.  Our candidates still lost but meanwhile my husband and I were delegate/alternate to the California State Convention in time to hear Nancy Pelosi assume the chairmanship of the party.  (She was great then too.)

When I first landed in Ann Arbor, I also immediately found a home in politics by working in a congressional campaign (he lost) and the council campaign for re-election of the first Democrat to represent the Second Ward on Council (Seth Hirshorn).  (He lost.)

At that time (late 80s) the City Council fluctuated in its partisan makeup, with Democrats sometimes in the minority, then ascending to a majority, with both Democratic and Republican mayors elected alternately.  I was a member of the Ward 2 organization and in 1992 assumed the role of Ward Chair.  At that time the Democratic ward organization was central in elections, turning out the vote and delivering candidate literature.  All of that stopped after Democrats became a permanent Council majority.  (I’ve recounted some of this recent party history in my Local in Ann Arbor blog.)

I was nominated as the Democratic candidate for Washtenaw County Commissioner, NW Ann Arbor in 1996 (the district number changed from 9 to 10 during my tenure) and was challenged by a Republican in 2000.  I’m a member of the Michigan Democratic Party.

So yes, I’m running as a Democrat.

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