My name is Daraka Larimore-Hall, and I’m running for re-election as Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party.
I was raised in a politically active household, where marching, voting, and arguing the world were family values. I want to continue to put my experience, passion for progressive social change, and love of organizing to work for California Democrats.
Here’s a little bit about myself:
I’m a grassroots activist who started out in a local Democratic Club, was elected to my County Central Committee, and went on to serve as its Chair for over 10 years. I was elected CDP Secretary in 2013, and Vice Chair in 2016 with over 80% of the vote.
I come from Labor. For more than a decade, I was a rank-and-file labor leader in UAW Local 2865, representing over 12,000 public employees. As an organizer, I helped build the nation’s first union for postdoctoral scholars.
I have worked as a Sociology instructor and professor at UCSB and Santa Barbara City College. I currently advise and train trade unionists and progressive party activists around the globe, sharing how to build political power and organize strategically.
I am a proudly Black and biracial man raised by a Jamaican immigrant and a feminist Midwesterner. I live in my home town of Santa Barbara with my wife Hillary and my little black cat Lena, just a few blocks from the apartment building I grew up in.
A Party for the People
The Democratic Party is a coalition. It brings together grassroots activists, elected officials, allies from unions and social movements, political professionals, and neighborhood advocates. We are as diverse in our thinking as we are in our backgrounds and identities. The California Democratic Party must be a space for all of these elements to come together and make decisions as a group. No single person or institution should be allowed to dominate or side-step collective decisions. That’s why I took the lead in opposing AB 84, which would have given too much power to Legislative leadership while undermining our State Party. while also supporting constructive engagement with our elected officials to move our common agenda forward.
Our Party should be a “one stop shopping” experience for activists. By getting involved, we should be able to work together to elect candidates, hold them accountable to our values, advocate for issues, empower our communities, and take direct action against the Trump/white supremacist agenda.
This is a vision of party-building that goes beyond the crucial step of winning elections. It means increased attention to the capacities, tools, and resources of our county committees and clubs. It means building on recent Party reforms that allow us to lobby and advocate for more legislation. And it means building a bridge between state and local level policy-making.
In short, we need to make the switch to “big organizing” at all levels.
It's Not Enough To Win Elections
I love winning elections, and as the GOP slides further toward fascism, now more than ever all Republicans are worth beating at the ballot box. But we need to start holding ourselves to a higher political as well as electoral standard. California leads the country in electing Democrats, but we also leads the nation in income inequality, poverty rates, and the moral crisis of homelessness. In this past cycle, we lost on major, moral ballot measures, making clear the need to do more to uplift our friends, family, and neighbors who need it most -- regardless of immigration status.
Working all angles and using everything in our activist toolkit, we must view our job -- our responsibility -- as moving a progressive agenda, as embodied by our Platform. Our responsibility to others is more than just numbers on a scoreboard.
Our Party Platform, the most progressive in the nation, along with our resolutions and the energy of our base, make our mission clear: we can and must pass the nation’s first Medicare for All program. We can and must end the Prison Industrial Complex and the pipeline of criminalization. We can and must raise wages and reign in corporate power. We can and must protect renters from unfair rent increases and increase the supply of both public and private affordable housing. We can and must build a society where Black Lives Matter.
Our Democratic victories have accomplished much for every Californian, but systemic suffering persists. We must not rest on our laurels when we have the political power to accomplish more, as long as we can find ways to work together in solidarity without papering over our honest differences.
When I say, “I’m proud but not satisfied,” this is what I’m talking about.
We can build a more progressive, equitable, and respectful California Democratic Party for all.