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August 14, 2005

Interview with Newly Elected National YDA Secretary, Rob Dolin

Rob Dolin of Seattle was elected Secretary of the Young Democrats earlier this month at the national Young Democrats National Convention in San Francisco.  The overall winner in the convention appeared to be reform and positive, intelligent action although there are contradictory reviews of some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering during the voting.  There were two slates of candidates, one led by Chris Gallaway, the incumbent, the other led by Alex de Ocambo of the Unity party.   The slate led by Gallaway won narrowly except for the post of Secretary which went to Seattleite Rob Dolin, who had been a part of the Unity slate. 

“Share information and leverage technology” was Dolin’s slogan in getting elected and remains his mantra as he moves to assist the YDA to do just that as general webmaster and technology go-to guy for the organization.  I interviewed Dolin last week after he’d returned from the convention and was very impressed with his goals and his skills, both political and techo-visionary.  I felt like whatever issues arose at the convention will be dealt with behind the scenes as the YDA gears up to take a lead in how the Democrats reclaim this country.  I believe these young people are likely to be the cavalry coming to our rescue as a Party, what they seem to be doing is that significant. 

My optimism was echoed in a diary post written by Charlie Eaton over at mydd after the convention:

Many YDA chapters have a hard time thinking of themselves as much more than social clubs for young people who are interested in Democratic politics. But as I discovered at the convention, there are also a great deal of YDA leaders who recognize the potential of our organization.  They agree that YDA should be a diverse group of young people who want to improve our lives by electing Democrats who will fight for young people -- especially young working people. The Action Caucus resolution points the YDA in that direction by pledging to elect progressives who will do just that.

At the convention, the dominoes fell in favor of those who would like to see the YDA take a bolder progressive stance, and put action behind it.  Single-payer healthcare, withdrawal from Iraq, immigrant rights, and improved union organizing rights all made it into the new YDA platform.  And the Action Caucus resolution passed unanimously. 

The interview with Rob Dolin is after the fold. 

Q: What brought you to this place? How have you been politically active in the past? 

RD: When I arrived in Seattle four years ago, I called up Judith Hines in the 36th LD, went to a meeting and became Membership Chair right off the bat.  It went on from there.  I am passionate about using cutting-edge communications for the Party and I helped develop the Communications systems currently in use in the YDA in Washington as well as the King County Democratic Party.  I was Communications Director of the Washington State YDA and am currently First Vice Chair of the King County Democrats.  Before that I was involved with politics in High School and with the College Democrats during college. 

(For more background information on Rob, check out his election web-site.)

Q: What prompted you to run for national office in the Young Democrats?

RD: I’d been part of the College Democrats and attended an earlier YDA convention even before moving here.  The Washington State folks were friendly. At the time, James Apa of Washington State was Executive Vice President and had been state YD President and he was encouraging. 

I believed that the national Democrats could do a better job of sharing information and leveraging technology.  In college, I’d been on-line editor of the newspaper; I’ve been webmaster for both the state YDA and the King County Democrats.  I knew there was a lot more we could do.  In my day job, I’m a project manager at Microsoft.  It’s just what I do.

Q: What do you hope to see happen in the YDA nationally?

RD: I am helping build a “contact management tool” that will collect and use contact information of people who sign up.  Then we can find out what issues people are interested in, plug those folks into groups they want to be involved with, and get them involved volunteering where they’d like to do so, whether that’s in the newer areas of communication or the more traditional organizing.  I want to make this information available at the national, state and local levels.  The national YDA has put out a proposal and we will be developing a tool to do these things.

I also think there is a lot of talent from the Young Democrats available to the Democratic Party and I want to see that made use of.  Like me, many other people have stepped up to being active in the general Democratic Party and become heavily engaged as well.  For example, Katie Kirking, also a YDAer, is now Chair of the Spokane County Democrats. 

Also, one of our key roles is to offer a place where young folks can come together and find people with similar interests.  It’s important for people to have a peer group like the Young Democrats where they can hang out together, be sociable with like-minded people, and have an entry point to get involved with the Democratic Party.  We want to be open and engaging so people want to be a part of this.

Q: How are you going to use your position to help out the Washington State Young Democrats?

RD: My job will be to help all Young Democrats.  I am thankful for all the support I received from the Young Democrats in Washington State.  I will likely learn a lot in service to the national YDA and I expect to be able to share that and bring that knowledge back.  For example, in Chicago, the Young Democrats do a lot of community service.  I made the suggestion to the King County Young Democrats that they do the same.  Also, some YDA groups are using text messaging to reach young people and there will be lots of opportunities to share best practices using text, which is something young people do a lot more than older folks. 

There are lots of ways that the national organization can share with the folks at the state and local levels.  I want to make certain there is a program of sharing ideas and best practices.   

Q: Anything else on the horizon for the YDA?

RD: We are exploring peer-to-peer networking.  There is a big opportunity for us to reach out to our peers at clubs and bars.  In our demographic, we need to be more involved in what people are already doing because so many of them don’t see politics as relevant to them.

On this and many other issues, I am hopeful that we can lead.  A lot of what Howard Dean showed us can be done, not just the fundraising but building activist networks. 

People should go to the YDA website that we are working on.  Development is under way but much of what we want should be available very soon.

What’s it been like for you after winning the election?

There have been lots of positive emails and phone calls.  There is a good cadre of people who want to help. 

Thank you.  I find this quite exciting and wish you well.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 14, 2005 at 11:27 PM in Interviews | Permalink


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Rob is one hell of a guy and everyone in Young Democrats of Washington is super proud of him.

Jacob Metcalf
YDWA.org Interim Tech

Posted by: Jacob Metcalf | Aug 15, 2005 1:30:03 PM

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