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Two-day quarterly session on May 18-19 will feature multiple committees and caucuses as well as a dinner

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - State Democratic Party meeting to be held in Prineville.

For the first time in 20 years, the Democratic Party of Oregon State Central Committee will be meeting in Prineville.

The two-day event will take place next weekend with sessions scheduled at multiple locations throughout Crook County High School and a social dinner planned for Prineville Golf Club.

The governing body for the Democratic Party of Oregon meets quarterly, and according to Rich Mires, the chairman of the Crook County Democratic Central Committee, state party leaders are trying to employ a "36-county strategy." He is pleased to see the new approach.

"Those of us in rural Oregon feel like everything happens in Salem or Portland," he said. "Many of us in rural Oregon have said, 'Wait a minute, our vote counts too, and we are under-represented out here and we think you need to pay extra attention and maybe pump some money into helping us build our county parties.'"

The lead-up to the upcoming Prineville session started last year when Mires, who is also a state Democratic Party committee delegate, arranged for the chair of the state party to visit Crook County's central committee. The social event was one of several that took place throughout the state.

"It was really well-received because it made us feel like we were part of the big picture," Mires recalls, and it prompted him and others to push for a state central committee meeting in Prineville.

The local committee put in a bid last fall for the meeting and learned a few months later that the community had been selected for the quarterly state session.

The weekend of events kicks off Saturday afternoon with multiple meetings of the party's county and congressional district chairs as well as meetings of the caucus chairs. A training on how to strengthen local parties and caucuses is also scheduled Saturday.

The first day wraps up with a Democratic Party of Oregon and Crook County Democrats Dinner at Prineville Golf Club. The fundraiser is the only portion of the two-day event that comes with a charge, but that money will be shared with the local party.

Mires said the dinner provides an opportunity for local Democrats to come and show their support for the party. He points out that while there are more than 3,000 Democrats in Crook County, some are reluctant to overtly show their support in what is a largely conservative community.

"I see other opportunities for people who maybe rely on a few of us to participate in this meeting," he added.

When the quarterly meeting resumes Sunday morning, several different committees will be on hand, including the state party's budget committee, rules committee and platform and resolutions committee. Also, 16 caucuses are scheduled to present.

"That's big because there are not usually that many caucus meetings," Mires remarked. "There is a little bit of everything for someone to sit in on and move around if they are not getting the message that they want."

A formal business meet will conclude the session early Sunday afternoon. Mires noted that the state central committee will be electing six new representatives for the executive committee and considering several different resolutions.

"Everyone is welcome to be heard," he added, but cautioned that the meeting follows a regimented process that visitors are expected to follow.

"It is an opportunity to see democracy in action," Mires said of the formal meeting. "It is seeing how that next level of a party operates."

Since it has taken 20 years for the state central committee to return to Prineville, Mires is not certain when the next visit might take place, but he is hopeful less time will pass between them in the future.

"They are really hoping to move around the counties," he said.

Sidebar

The Democratic Party of Oregon State Central Committee's quarterly meeting will be held in Prineville on Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19. To RSVP or learn more about the event, visit dpo.org/events/2019-05-18/2nd-quarter-state-central-committee-weekend.

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