By: Sabiha Khan
American Muslim activist and California Democratic Party Delegate
A record number of American Muslim delegates to the Democratic Party attended and participated in the California Democratic (CADEM) Party Convention in Sacramento, California held on April 12-14. In the beginning of the year, more than thirty five delegates from a diverse background, six of whom were elected to the Executive Board, were either elected or chosen to represent their California Assembly District at the Convention.
Hailing from Northern to Southern California and cities in between, the California American Muslim Democratic Party delegates attended workshops on voter registration, voted and passed resolutions, voted on party and caucus officers and networked with party activists and elected officials.
A version of one resolution submitted by the Progressive Caucus and supported by the California Muslim Delegate group was passed unanimously at the convention. The official committee resolution strongly called on the Obama administration to end the use of drone strikes and extrajudicial executions.
The American Muslim delegates also attended the launching and formation of the first ever Muslim American Caucus for the California Young Democrats. One delegate, S. Nadia Hussain, was elected to be its first secretary. She was also elected to the board of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.
Also at the convention, a number of American Muslim delegates were elected to the board of the Arab American Democratic Caucus: Sarah Moussa as Chair, Basim Elkarra as Northern California Vice Chair, Rashad Al-Dabbagh as Southern California Vice Chair, Fatima Dadabhoy as Treasurer and, Iyad Afalqa as Secretary.
The diversity of the American Muslim community was reflected in the background of the delegates themselves: men and women ranging in age from 23 to 63 years old; people from all professions including entrepreneurs, homemakers, doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers and engineers to name a few; and South Asian, Arab, Latino, and Anglo-American ethnicity. Noteworthy also were two sets of siblings; brothers Affad and Affan Shaikh and sisters Fatima and Ambereen Dadabhoy.
The California Democratic Party (CDP) is governed by the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) which has approximately 3000 delegates. Some delegates are appointed by elected officials, but about one third are elected every odd numbered year through elections divided by assembly district. Twelve individuals (six women and six men) from each assembly district are elected as delegates to serve a two year term to the DSCC.
An elected delegate is able to vote on candidate endorsements, help shape the platform of the CDP, approve the rules by which the CDP functions, vote on resolutions of concern to various communities, and choose CDP representatives to the Democratic National Party. Delegates are also responsible for attending the annual statewide convention.
Additionally, one representative from every 12 delegates is voted to the executive board. The executive board (E-Board) has all the duties and powers of the CDP when it is not in session (at the Democratic National Convention). E-Board members are required to attend three quarterly E-Board meetings each year, as well as the statewide convention.
The next California Democratic Party Convention will be held in 2014 in Los Angeles. Among the issues to be decided on at next year’s convention is the CDP’s platform.