On December 20, 2020, the Maricopa County Democratic Party elected Nancy Schriber to succeed Steve Slugocki as its new Chairperson.
Saying “local politics is where we need our most coordinated efforts,” the former head of the Legislative District 28 Democrats (an LD that went totally blue in 2020,) Ms. Schriber pledged to “listen, collaborate, and be open to new ways of thinking,” as the Maricopa County Democratic Party rebounds from a mixed November 3, 2020 election day performance.
Chairperson Schriber graciously took the time to respond to questions describing her thoughts on the 2020 election and where she would like to steer the Maricopa County Democratic Party in the next election cycles.
The questions and her responses are below.
1) What are at least three results from the 2020 Election that you are happiest with?
“2020 was a rough year for many of us. When it comes to political campaigns, it was largely the same. Despite the difficulty, we had some exciting results.
First, we saw record-breaking turnout across Maricopa County, despite a global pandemic affecting all facets of our daily lives. That kind of result was encouraging and provides us with hope for the future.
Second, we finished the year with over 1,500 Precinct Committee Members (PCs). This indicates the enthusiasm, support, and hunger for change across our county. We’re excited that this number has doubled in the last four years and we’re ready to continue recruiting and growing!
Third, the Maricopa County Democratic Party raised a record amount of money in 2020. This is a positive sign because it shows that our grassroots donors are enthused about local elections and the positive changes we can see here on a local level.
Finally, we’re so happy about electing a record number of Democratic school board members across Maricopa County. Many of these candidates were first-time candidates who decided to take action into their own hands. They’re now in positions to ensure parents, students and teachers have all the tools they need to succeed. We’re ecstatic to continue encouraging others to establish a campaign and run for other local positions too.”
2) What are at least three results from the 2020 Election that you are unhappy with?
“We’re clearly disappointed with the down-ballot results, especially our countywide candidates who did an amazing job under the difficult circumstances. But, as we’re now understanding, this did not happen in Arizona alone. Down-ballot Democrats lost across the country.
Despite the encouraging signs regarding the historic voter participation numbers across the state, the Democratic undervote was high. This means there needs to be more investment in educating Democrats on the importance of voting in all elections – especially in local elections.
Last, we’re clearly disappointed that AZ GOP leadership did not accept the 2020 General Election results until a few days ago, despite the election being over for months. In fact, some within the AZ GOP leadership still wants to conduct audits of the election. I think it’s time we face reality and move on. We need to respect democracy and the will of Arizona voters.”
3) Please describe at least three recruitment tools, get out the vote methods, or electoral strategies you will retain from the previous three election cycles.
“We know that the most effective tool to recruit supporters, volunteers, and voters is by knocking on their door. Going into 2021, we’re going to continue having conversations with our Legislative Districts to find new ways to talk to fellow Democrats. But we can’t wait to get out there and knock on those doors!
We’re also going to continue printing a physical version of the Maricopa County Democratic Party Voter Guide. This tool has been implemented successfully for years. We’re excited that in 2020, we added a digital version of the guide with tremendous success. For future cycles, we are looking forward to having a printed and digital version of this guide. This will help us reach people online and off.
Finally, we’re proud of the relationships that were built in 2020. Some of these community partners include LDs but also media outlets we invested in for the first time. They include Prensa Arizona (a Spanish language newspaper), the Arizona Informant (a local newspaper with a wide circulation in the Black community), Mega 104.3FM (a local hip-hop station), the Beat 101.1FM (another local hip-hop station), and El Tricolor 103.5FM/La Suavecita 107.1FM (both Spanish language radio stations). We hope to continue investing in these partnerships. It’s important to talk to our Latinx and Black communities early and often, and not just during election years.”
4) To what extent do you believe a trickle-up approach is the best way to elect candidates up and down the ballot in future elections? Please explain.
“We believe that if we can convince someone to vote for a local school board candidate or a countywide candidate, they will vote up the ballot. It’s about discussing the issues and making sure they understand that these local candidates impact their daily lives. Making Democrats understand this is vital for a sustainable local Democratic Party moving forward.
This is also a meaningful way we can build a strong bench of local candidates. Year after year, we meet amazing people from all walks of life across the county. We must continue building relationships with these people so that we can identify potential candidates. Recruiting these grassroots candidates is vital to implementing Democratic policy and values across the county and state.
It’s essential to focus on local elections because when Democratic local candidates win, we are actively preventing right-wing extremists from taking office. We see this as a way of avoiding vile people like Gosar, Biggs, and Rogers from ever taking political office.”
5) Please describe at least three recruitment tools, get out the vote methods, or electoral strategies you will change from the previous three election cycles.
“We can’t wait until this pandemic is under control and we begin knocking on doors. While we’re still on Zoom talking to our neighbors and using our phones to talk and text, nothing compares to having physical, in-person conversations.
We’ve had to resort to Zoom over the past year. Although it’s a useful tool to connect digitally, I can’t stress how important it is to regularly meet in community. We will wait until we’re cleared, but it’s crucial to have physical, in-person conversations.
During this pandemic, we’ve used lots of new digital tools to try and match the efficacy of knocking on doors. We still have to re-evaluate the impact our text messaging and digital programs had on GOTV efforts. While we think we did what we could under the circumstances, we still need to look at the data and understand how we can improve. This also includes needless spending on things like yard signs. While voters love them, we need to re-evaluate the importance of political campaign signs moving forward.”
6) While Joe Biden, Mark Kelly, Paul Penzone, and Anna Tovar won Maricopa County, other house (CD Six,) local (LD 17, LD 20, LD 21, and LD 23,) and county candidates (all except Penzone) did not. What are at least three reasons you attribute those local losses to?
“First, we know COVID-19’s impact on traditional campaigning was indescribable. Not being able to launch with our teams, talk to our voters, and discuss the issues they care about what heartbreaking.
We also know that Arizona was bombarded with digital ads, text messages, and phone calls due to the lack of door-knocking and canvassing. This saturation of political advertisement probably tuned people out rather than have them turn out to vote.
In 2020, we had a fantastic full-slate of countywide candidates. This was a historic first. Unfortunately, many of these candidates had never run for office before. This means they needed lots of training, guidance, and they did not have name recognition other candidates did. Despite these setbacks, we’re so proud of the incredible accomplishments each candidate had. We’re thrilled with the number of votes each candidate received.
Finally, we need to educate Democratic voters on the importance of voting down-ballot. Again, the Democratic undervote was heartbreaking. MCDP will address this in 2021 with heavy voter education campaigns, which will ensure that voters participate in ALL elections moving forward.”
7) Based on your response to number six, what are at least three ways you and your team will work to improve Democratic Performance at the house, local, and county levels in 2022 and 2024?
“Our number one priority for 2021 is to continue strengthening our LDs. This will happen through training our PCs in communication, data, recruitment, and fundraising.
We will also make sure MCDP has a clear vision and mission statement. These statements will help us to determine what tactics we use to achieve our goals. Then, we will partner with our LDs to help us achieve our mission countywide.
We will then continue to increase the number of Democratic voters through voter registration and the Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL). Voter registration and PEVL is vital to continue making headway in local and state elections in 2022.
Finally, stressing the importance of voting in local elections will be the foundation of everything we do at MCDP. Education on the importance of these elections will deliver positive results in 2022 and beyond. “
8) What are at least two ways you and your team will reduce the undervote levels that occurred in 2020 in future elections?
“For one, we want to knock on doors to talk to people. We need to discuss the issues and explain to voters why voting for Democratic candidates is the best way to fund our schools and make a liveable wage.
Then, we need to ensure that high-efficacy Democratic voters become PCs. PCs are the lifeblood of our organization. By recruiting more community leaders, we can expand our network and talk to more voters. Bringing home our message about voting local will start at the PC level and work its way up.
Last, we want to talk to disenfranchised voters in communities of color. We need to ensure that Democratic Party members are talking to them in off-year elections, and we give them reasons to vote for us when it comes to elections. We can’t just depend on their vote; we must earn it.”
9) Do you anticipate the redistricting process in Maricopa County in House and Legislative Districts to be fair? Please explain. If not, please explain what are two steps you are prepared to take to ensure fairness.
“We do not expect the redistricting process to be fair because we know that the independents they’re considering are already right-leaning. We also know that the sneaky AZ GOP will do anything within their power to contest elections.
To fight back against their deceitful tactics, we’re creating reliable leaders within LDs. That means we’re preparing them for change in 2022 and beyond. Reducing the Democratic undervote includes organizing and recruiting heavily across Maricopa County. We want to be prepared, no matter what happens. Reducing Democratic undervote includes working with every Democratic Party organization to educate voters on advocating for fair districting lines.”
10) Regarding voting rights, to what extent is there concern that either the State Legislature or the County Recorders office may attempt to hinder the voting process for future elections. Please explain. What are two steps you are prepared to take to ensure the voting process is not hindered?
“We will be watching the bills that come before our legislators this session. We will also educate our county constituents on using the “Request To Speak” system to have a voice at the state legislature.
Most importantly, voters need to understand they have direct access to their state legislators. Educating constituents on how to contact their legislators is critical, so they know they directly influence lawmakers’ decisions.”
Please click here for more information on the Maricopa Democratic Party.