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Your New Texas Democratic Party Statewide Officers

by: Michael Hurta

Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 11:42 AM CDT

At the recent Texas Democratic Convention in Houston, Gilberto Hinojosa was just one of an entire officer board elected to serve Texas Democrats over the next two or four years.

Beyond chairman, there are three other statewide elected party officers: First Vice Chair, Vice Chair for Finance, Secretary, and Treasurer.

This is what they do, specifically, according to the official rules of the party:

(c) State Chair. The State Chair shall be the principal and presiding officer of the SDEC, shall have all of the authority and duties implied by such title and expressed and impliedby these Rules, and shall have the authority to establish and to appoint committees with the advice and consent of the SDEC and deal with the affairs of the Party.

(d) First Vice Chair. The First Vice Chair shall assist the State Chair and shall have the duties and authority implied by such title or assigned by the Chair or by the SDEC. The First Vice Chair shall preside over meetings of the SDEC in the absence of the State Chair and shall fill any ex-officio position created for Party Vice Chairs, including membership on the National Committee.

(e) Vice Chair for Finance. The Vice Chair for Finance shall have responsibilities for fundraising under the direction of the State Chair and shall have other duties and responsibilities assigned by the Chair or by the SDEC.

(f) Secretary. The Secretary shall have the duties and authority implied by such title.

(g) Treasurer. The Treasurer's duties shall be to present a financial report at each SDEC meeting and to perform duties assigned by the State Chair. The disbursement of funds shall be the responsibility of the State Chair or of the Chair's designee(s), provided that the designee(s) be approved by the SDEC.

The chair, with duties to "deal with the affairs of the Party," is the only officer with major day-to-day responsibilities. Historically, these other positions have been somewhat symbolic (with there often being an assurance that different interest groups are represented), but they are still important, nonetheless. These are often major activists of the party, either way.

The only holdover from before the convention is René Lara, the secretary. New are Tarsha Hardy (the First Vice Chair), Farrukh Shamsi (the Vice Chair for Finance), and Michael Apodaca (Treasurer).

We already told you a lot about Gilberto Hinojosa with Katherine's interviews and our endorsement. Read below the fold to learn about these other officers.

Tarsha Hardy, First Vice Chair
Tarsha Hardy is one of the many Young Democrats who were elected to numerous positions over the course of the state convention. She is also the only new party officer, besides Gilberto Hinojsa, to receive significant opposition. So, her election is a prime example of how youth was served during the convention. (And you will see more of that later.) She has been a community organizer for ACORN, and was actually Miss Black Harris County 2010. She also served as a permanent secretary among Democrats in Senate District 15. Although she got her first activist experiences from Houston, she now lives in Dallas. She clearly didn't want this position just as a symbolic one, so it should be interesting to see her in action.

Farrukh Shamsi, Vice Chair of Finance
Farrukh Shamsi (not to be confused with a Mr. Shami who ran for Governor), most recently served as the State Democratic Executive Comitteeman from Senate District 7. He became a liberal in the 70s through his fascination with Jimmy Carter, though he didn't become a full-throttle activist until anger came from President George W. Bush. He is a Houstonian who has also been involved in the Asian American Democrats Texas PAC.

Michael Apodaca, Treasurer
Speaking of young people, Michael Apodaca has been extremely active with the Texas Young Democrats, including one year in which he served as president of the organization. He's worked for numerous candidates in his hometown of El Paso, and he currently works for Organizing for America.

René Lara, Secretary
The only holdover from the prior officers, Lara is the Legislative and Political Director of the Texas AFL-CIO. The one Austinite among this group (although originally from El Paso), he has worked for Senator Gonzolo Barrientos and the American Federation of Teachers. He also proudly holds a Master of Public Affairs and a Law Degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

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