She sent out this email this afternoon;
Good evening members of the South Dakota Democratic
Party State Central Committee,
I am Paula Hawks, former state legislator fromÂ District 9 (Hartford) and 2016 Congressional candidate for the South Dakota Democratic Party.Â In response to Rachelle Norberg’s call for prospective party chair candidates, I am writing to you today to let you know why I am throwing my hat into the StateÂ Chair race.Â Having run a few campaigns and won a couple I have some insight into what needs to be happening for Democratic candidates in South Dakota to be successful. A thoughtful, comprehensive strategy for long-term party development is necessary andÂ must be developed as soon as possible. It takes a lot of dedicated, passionate people willing to step up and put their money, and their time, where their mouths are and then show results. This can only happen with leadership that is capable of unifying multipleÂ factions within the party. I believe I can provide that leadership.
We haven’t seen a strategic plan from the stateÂ office telling us what the plan is for the next five years, the next year, or even the next six months. From a business perspective, this is unacceptable. I have had the privilege of being a high school teacher, a training professional and a talent recruitingÂ specialist. Not once did I work for a company that did not have a short- and long-term strategic plan in place. Once you have the strategic plan in place, you have to have the capital to make it happen, and the leadership capability to execute it acrossÂ the state. Our fundraising efforts have been lackluster and have not been meeting the needs of a major political party working to ensure the election of progressive candidates across the state. Listening sessions are great, but only if some action comesÂ about as a result of what is heard. We need to take that data, analyze it, determine what it means for the mission of the SDDP, and then involve our leaders to develop our strategic plan around it.
This is what I intend to do if elected to theÂ Chairmanship of the SDDP:
- Capitalize on the opportunities being handed to us by the massive numbers ofÂ people taking action through the many resistance groups forming across the state: Â LEAD, Progress SD, South Dakota Forward, Pantsuit Nationâ€¦There are more people than ever who want to be involved and are looking for a way to move ideas forward rather thanÂ sitting in a dark room complaining. The listening sessions left people feeling like they weren’t really heard, and so they are finding other ways to be engaged and active in creating progress. Let’s engage these groups as partners!
- I will work to reinforce the existing relationships I have with media outletsÂ in South Dakota, so that when we give them our message, they report it.Â I will work to craft a consistent, clear message about the intent and goal of the Democratic Party and I will make it a priority to keep that message in front of statewide media outlets.Â We have to hold the media accountable for reporting the news from more than one angle. Lopsided news reports are doing us no favors–our media outreach must work to promote the actions of Democrats around the state, AND holds Republicans and Democrats alikeÂ accountable.
- The wait-and-see strategy that is occurring now isn’t working â€“ we can’t wait for the reporters to come to us â€“ we have to go to them and keep the lines of communication open.
- I will vigorously pursue the formulation and dissemination of a strategic planÂ of action. Within 30 days of my election, I will have called together the Executive Board of the South Dakota Democratic Party to create this document, which will provide a roadmap for communicating a progressive message, engaging voters and citizens at theÂ grassroots level. This cannot be one person’s idea of what needs to be emphasized and executed, but the coming together of the elected leadership of every part of the state. The needs and desires of the southeast part of the state are different from thoseÂ of the western part of the state and the northeast and central parts of the state.Â We must focus all of those priorities and bring about a centralized message that identifies the mission of the South Dakota Democratic Party.
- I will expand fundraising efforts and make them a much larger priority.Â TheÂ money is out there â€“ we just have to get people to take it out of their pockets by showing them we have a plan that can work!Â There is no excuse for the chair of the party to be spending tens of thousands of dollars of personal money to fund the state partyÂ instead of fundraising from partners that grow our influence.Â We must focus on finding new ways to engage people that sparks their passion for supporting their party.Â We do this by hosting events more often than twice a year and in more locations than justÂ Sioux Falls and Rapid City.Â Engaged people will support the party with their money, and when people make that kind of investment, they tend to be more engaged!Â This is a positive loop of support and involvement.
These are the things I intend to do to leadÂ this party into the progressive future we all want, while building a sustainable, connected Democratic Party that responds to the needs of all South Dakotans.Â We want to move South Dakota forward. We have waited too long, hoping that a plan will emerge, thatÂ action will be taken.Â Enough waiting, we need to start this YESTERDAY!
We have an incredible opportunity right nowÂ to build a strong team in the state party office: we have an empty executive director seat.Â I will not go into this decision lightly or with preconceived notions of who I think will do the best job.Â Again, this is not a decision to be made by one person,Â but by the leadership of the state party.Â We also cannot wait to make this decision. We need an ED in place to start building momentum for the next election cycle and to start executing the strategic plan as soon as it is drafted and approved.
We need a polished approach of strategy andÂ tactics combined.Â This means not just ideas, but action steps to make those ideas happen.Â These are things we can do, this is what we must do, and this is what I will do if elected to be the chair.Â The buck stops with the Chair of the Party and our currentÂ state of affairs stops with our current chair.Â It’s time for a change.