Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Diversity an Issue in the YDAC

The Young Democrats of Allegheny County held a meeting last Wednesday. It was to be the final meeting before an election of new officers on Sept. 19.

Breen Masciotra was heavily favored to unseat incumbent president Brian O'Malley.

However, Shawn Carter, the only African-American in the room, voiced some objections relating to diversity.

He urged the YDAC to postpone the election until October 24.


Carter laid out his argument once again in an open letter. Here are some selections:

I'm not here to judge the current or the past leadership of the Young Democrats, merely to make the argument that diversity is a goal worth pursuing...

All too often, as liberals, as progressives, as a group of people who want positive change, we are faced with scenarios where we are asked to "trust us, we'll invite you to the table later" and then people wonder why we don't trust them and question the motive.

I didn't ask for an indefinite postponement. In fact, I asked that the election only be delayed for the length of time it took to a.) reach out to other demographics, and to b.) set up a couple of events at venues more amenable to a broader cross-section of our demographic...

In that same meeting on Wednesday, I admitted my culpability in this having not happened sooner.

Carter forswore any intentions of standing for office himself.


Matthew Merriman-Preston, an active supporter of
Breen Masciotra's candidacy, responded to Carter's missive by circulating a letter of his own.

Preston explained his position to the Comet via internet chat:

Membership building is a long term venture

not something that can be done as an afterthought.

The lack of diversity is one of the biggest problems at the YDAC right now

but pushing elections back for a month with no real plan to increase diversity does not serve anyone.


For those readers who like to keep score:

Shawn Carter and Matthew Merriman-Preston worked together on Bill Peduto's 2005 mayoral campaign.

Carter went on to assist the Rev. Ricky Burgess in his successful bid for a city council nomination. He took a job in the office of State Sen. Jim Ferlo early this summer.

Preston went on to manage the victorious general election campaign of Chelsa Wagner for the State House. He later re-joined Councilman Peduto for the mayoral primary of 2007, and seemingly beyond.

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