August 14, 2019

Report on Meeting Lavora Barnes

Report on Meeting with Lavora Barnes, Chair of MDP  

Saturday, August 3, 2019, Leland, MI


By Sylvia McCullough

Lavora Barnes, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, met with a group of county Dems and Indivisibles at the Leland Lodge, Leland, Michigan, Saturday, August 3rd.  Lavora was accompanied by MDP Executive Director, Christine Jensen.

Jim Dulzo, Chair of Benzie County Dems asked her what the main issues are that the MDP wants to message as top priorities.  She replied:

  1. Healthcare, including women’s, mental health, and prescription drugs.


  1. The economy stressing that Trump’s promises to keep factory jobs has not occurred and that too many people have not benefited from the rise in the stock market.


  1. Whatever you think is important locally.


Lavora then asked what the MDP could do to support our county Dem groups up as well as our candidates.  She also asked what the issues are up here that are important to us.  She then sat back and listened and took notes.  A number of asks were made from the attendees:

  1. Immigration – Need Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Peters to address      immigration issues by seeing to it that existing immigration laws governing our seasonal migrant population be enforced.  It isn’t enough to support comprehensive immigration reform.  We need the lack of H2B visas for farm workers increased, the red tape cut, and a ceasing of the arrests of migrant farm workers.  We do not hear them speaking out and addressing these issues.


  1. MDP support for our district which is too often written off in favor of downstate districts because we are considered to be too “red.”



  1. Gwenne Allgaier, Co-Chair of Leelanau County Dems stressed a need MDP field organizers from our area to help with organizing campaigns, training, media, literature and much else. We need more field offices.


  1. Jim Dulzo, Chair of Benzie County Dems ask for training on how to do social media videos.



  1. Push for broadband business internet. This is needed to bring tech and clean energy development to our area, create jobs and keep our young families from having to move elsewhere.


  1. Equitable school funding equal to downstate.



  1. Shut down Line 5. People in the U.P. need clean energy development to create jobs that will diminish their support for building the tunnel.


  1. We need boots on the ground for big canvassing campaigns as our aging population up here finds it difficult in some cases to go door to door. And we aren’t getting any younger.



  1. More TV ad support. She said this was difficult as they tier their media advertising prioritizing downstate, then Grand Rapids, and we get what is left over.  She said they do not have enough money to hit everyone equally.


  1. Come up and be a presence in our organizations and events. We need to see our representatives up here more often.  We work very hard up here, contribute to their campaigns and the MDP and we want them to show up!



  1. The issues of Indivisibles vs. Democratic parties came up and where did she stand on that apparent She said she does not care what people call themselves as long as they work for and support Democratic candidates. 


As the session concluded everyone stressed how welcome she is up here, that we want her to come back often and any number of us will be delighted to host her in our homes.  We invited her to join the Indivisible Picnic on the 8th as well.  She promised she will come back and she will convey our message to the downstate MDP and Senators.  I found her to be very receptive to our issues up here in the 1st District, and in general found her to be a breath of fresh air and just a delight.