January 29, 2023

2023-2025 Board Candidate Statements-Victoria and the Islands

Chapter Chair: Giles Hogya

As a 16-year member of Democrats Abroad (DA), Giles has held several senior administrative positions such the Vice-chair and two-term Chair of the National Chapter and several terms as the Chair of DA Victoria & the Islands Chapter (DAVI). A highlight of his DA career was serving as an elected Delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. Currently, he is the DAVI Chair and a DPCA Voting Member.

Giles is an active theatre lighting designer working mainly in New York City and Victoria. At UVic, he served as Chair of the Theatre Department and as the Dean of Fine Arts. Dr. Hogya is a graduate of Northwestern University (Evanston). He is married, has two sons and three grandchildren.

As a committed and passionate democrat, he is asking for your vote once again.

Secretary-Treasurer: Lynne Severance

Since February 2022, I have had the honor of serving as Acting Secretary of DA Victoria and the Islands. In May 2022 financial protocols within Democrats Abroad were simplified and centralized such that the Secretary and the Treasurer responsibilities for our chapter activities were combined. Therefore, I am now seeking to be elected to the position Secretary-Treasurer of DA Victoria and the Islands.

I am a dual US-Canada citizen and vote in Washington State. Prior to my retirement I held dual professional accounting designations as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA-CGA) in Canada, and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the US. I lived and worked in Spokane, Washington for 20 years, working in management positions within the private sector and healthcare finance. On moving to Victoria in 2008, I was a manager within the financial sector at BC Emergency Health Services for ten years before retiring. I believe I am well qualified to fulfill the requirements of the office of Secretary-Treasurer.

As a life-long Democrat I served as a Democratic Party Precinct Committee Officer (PCO) in the Washington State Legislative District where I previously resided, and participated in the presidential caucuses during the 2004 and 2008 election cycles. I have close family ties in the US and continue to care about political trends there. I was deeply concerned about the results of the presidential election of 2016, and further alarmed by the events of January 6, 2021. This motivated me to do whatever I could from my home here in Victoria to preserve democracy in the US. When I discovered that Democrats Abroad had a chapter here in Victoria, I immediately volunteered and am hopeful that contributing in this small way is helping to reverse current trends in the US.

Membership Secretary: Steven Saunders

I have been in the position of Membership Secretary for DAVI since October 2021. I am just finishing up my second Membership Verification period and enjoy the work, and meeting, welcoming, and communicating with our members and volunteers.

In my professional life, I am retired, but was a Software Quality Assurance Engineer from Silicon Valley in California. I vote in Washington as Seattle was my last US residence before moving to Victoria in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Part of what I find fascinating about Democrats Abroad is the diversity and global nature of the organization. I lived and worked for international organizations in the Netherlands for 5 years and in Mexico for 2 years.

I would be happy to receive your vote for continuing my duties in 2023.

Member-at-Large: Patricia Kostek

  • Dual citizen from Pennsylvania (Scranton area)
  • Active in Democrats Abroad-DAVI for the past 16 years
  • Lifelong Democrat from a family of passionate Democrats

Previous DA - Victoria Board positions held:

  • Acting Chair
  • Vice Chair
  • Acting Vice Chair
  • Member-at Large

Service to DAVI Community.

Assisted in the organization of and implementation of:

  • Obama Inauguration at Swan’s Pub
  • Fourth of July Activities, multiple years
  • Pub meet-ups for Election Nights, Primary nights and general socializing
  • Thanksgiving dinners at local church halls
  • Tax Seminars
  • Movie night
  • Get out the Vote
  • Registration at area public libraries
  • Information booth at civic events (Pride Parade, etc)
  • Media Advertising voter registration events (editing and devising Ad script)

Community Service:

  • Board member Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (1994-2015)
  • Board member, American Federation of Musicians, AFM/CFM Local 247, Victoria and the Islands (2018-present)

While at the University of Victoria (1989-2018) I held the following leadership positions:

  • Acting Director of the School of Music
  • Acting Chair of the Theatre Department
  • Acting Associate Dean of Fine Arts

During the 2020 Presidential election, I came to the stark realization that the Democracy known by all Americans before the election of Donald Trump in 2016 is in extreme jeopardy. The fact that on January 6, 2021 there could be a riot and violent attack against the 117th US Congress while in session at the US Capitol and that the Speaker of the House position became “a hold for ransom” position with the constant tradeoffs and deals being struck, has strengthened my resolve to do everything I can to support Democratic and democratic principals. If elected I will continue to work in support of Democrats Abroad initiatives to get out the vote in midterm elections and the presidential election 2024.

Member-at-Large: James Ham

I've been a DAVI board member since 2018 an agree to stand for reelection.

Member-at-Large: Stephanie Erin Hart

My lifelong commitment to the Democratic Party, plus many years serving on and as staff counsel to non-profit Boards, would make me a good choice for the position of Counsel. I have been working for Democratic candidates and causes since I was a teenager in Arizona, marching for MLK Day, and stuffing envelopes (remember that!?) for Bill Clinton. In the years since, I've marched for, and staffed, and funded many progressive campaigns. I was really excited to learn of the existence of Democrats Abroad, as a way to continue to help now that I live in Canada.

I also understand Board and non-profit governance, having served on and been a staff lawyer for trustee boards. I am admitted to practice in British Columbia and in New York, and received my JD from Columbia Law School. I started out as an employment and commercial litigator. More recently I worked as a transactional and governance attorney for, among other clients, public pension fund boards and the investment firms that support them. 

I understand that being a Board member is not just ceremonial. It means making a commitment to do the work in a timely and competent manner because others are counting on you. I understand the hours of work required of board membership, and am prepared to devote that time to Democrats Abroad.  I would be honoured to be considered for the position of member at large.

Member-at-Large: Susan Watt

I was born and raised in New York, and began my political campaign work as an 8 year old child, sealing and stamping envelopes for Al Lowenstein for Congress. I have lived in Victoria, for over 40 years, during which time I would always find a way to get involved with GOTV calls for Democratic candidates in each US election. I spent my parenting life very involved in the education of my children. Two time President of our Co-Op preschool, Co-Chairing The ‘Making Tomorrow’ Educational Conferences (for 3 years), on the executive of elementary/middle schools for 14 years and President of High School PACs for 8 years. I was also a Board Member (twice) of VCPAC. In 2013, I was asked to join the Board of Directors of Congregation Emanu-El, where I satas a Member At Large for 4 years, resigning only because of my campaigning commitments.

Upon “graduation” I quickly moved into heavy involvement with the Green Party of BC (as well as Canada). In 2012, I joined the campaign staff to elect Andrew Weaver as the first BCGP MLA, as the campaign Event Coordinator, working closely with the Fundraising Co-ordinator. This opportunity gave me an eye opening experience to the inner workings of politics. I worked part-time as a constituent assistant in the Office of Andrew Weaver, in addition to becoming a voluntary Medical Advocate. In 2017, for the campaign to re- elect Andrew, I took on the role of Volunteer Coordinator, managing approximately 200 volunteers, ranging in age from 11 to 85. I encouraged and was privileged to have the opportunity to engage, train and mentor a large number of University student volunteers. In addition, I was still assisting with events and direct fundraising.  Each campaign (and in-between), I was very active on Call Hub, so am quite familiar and comfortable on that platform. 

From 2013 - 2020, I also served as the President of the Oak Bay Gordon Head Riding Association for the BCGP. I decided to move from that commitment to DAVI, in order to do whatever I could to help elect Joe Biden and other democrats. Now more than ever, I continue to see the need for consistent, active participation in making sure Democrats are elected up and down the ballot in order to secure our democracy.

I would like to continue my involvement and work with the other amazing members I’ve met volunteering with DAVI. If re-elected as a Member at Large, I would love to continue working with the amazing Board in any areas I feel I can contribute. Thank you for your consideration.