DANL 2019 Election Candidate Statements

Chair:

Kendra Borgen-

I’m very eager to serve once again as the Chair for Democrats Abroad Netherlands. Since joining the Executive Committee 4 years ago I've worked tirelessly to bring the American community together to get out the vote and encourage people to be involved. As we move towards the 2020 elections it's important to increase voter turnout and help restore order to the White House. In a time when elections are literally being decided by one vote (looking at you Virginia) the fact the only around 15% of the 6 million voting Americans abroad vote in elections is saddening. We can do better. I hope to inspire people to get involved and get out the vote! 

I stand proudly on my current achievements as Chair. DANL has executed great fundraisers in the last 2 years to help DA globally get votes. We've also raised funds for new posters and banner sets, hoping to use these sets to develop smaller chapters outside Amsterdam and the Randstad. 

If re-elected as Chair I intend to continue in with these developments and am looking forward help grow our membership. Thank you for your consideration.

Vice Chair:

Robbie Checkoway-

Candidate for Vice Chair (incumbent)

As a Massachusetts voter living in Amsterdam for 15 years, my own vote in a comfortably blue state just isn’t enough for me. I’m thankful to count Democrats Abroad as my ‘state party’, because it means I can help influence the outcome of elections in every state and every Congressional district across the country.

I’ve worked within Democrats Abroad since 2000. I started as our local NL vice chair and now I’m back in that role again. In between I’ve served the global organization as international secretary, vice chair and DNC member. My proudest accomplishment in all this time is working on the original team that created VoteFromAbroad.org back in 2004-2006.

I’ve written and read a lot of these candidate statements over the years. We’re all passionate about electing Democrats and advancing progressive politics. For me, the key criteria in choosing leaders is simple: What skills can you bring to the table? My top three are:

COMMUNICATION. I’m an advertising copywriter by trade, crafting messaging for products and brands. For Democrats Abroad Netherlands, our top challenge is getting the word out and getting our US voters registered.

ORGANIZING. For DA, I’ve worked on everything from local speakers and fundraisers to our Global Primary and Democratic National Convention delegation.

NETWORKING. It’s all about who you know and how you activate them. As a freelance professional, I live-or-die by my network, which includes a fair share of the expat creative community in Amsterdam. I also offer experience navigating the complexities of our own party infrastructure.

 

It would be a privilege to continue to serve our group in the role of vice chair at this critical juncture. Thank you for your consideration. 

Legal Counsel:

Ethan Nasr-

Prior to moving to Amsterdam with my family in April 2018, I’ve been a government attorney in different roles over the past 15 years. I started as a municipal attorney for the City of Oakland, California, then worked for the judiciary as a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, before transitioning into the Office of the Chief Counsel at U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services where I worked on refugee and asylum law. 

In these various positions, I’ve spent considerable time analyzing and revising regulations, guidelines, and other policy documents which I believe to be directly relevant experience for the role of legal counsel for Democrats Abroad. I also had the opportunity to speak with outgoing counsel, Jeff Rupp, about the position at the January 27th, 2019 meeting to make sure I could meet the demands of the role.

 I’ve been active in democratic politics for the past 25 years since first joining my college democrats student group. Over the years, I’ve volunteered my time to various local and federal candidates for phone banking, door-knocking, and get out the vote campaigns. I think we’re all newly energized by the ever-unfolding disaster that is the Trump administration and his Republican enablers and how we can direct that energy toward increasing our representation as American voters here in the Netherlands. 

Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy for the role of legal counsel.

Secretary:

Tre’ Shawn L. Griffin-Noordermeer-

For Re-Election as Democrats Abroad Netherlands Secretary

I’m Tre’ Shawn Griffin-Noordermeer, your current Secretary and I am requesting your vote for re-election. Hailing from Ohio, public service has always been a passion of mine. Two years ago, I ran because I wanted to reach out to those areas of the country where DA is not present, to connect those Americans with Democrats Abroad and get them involved. Visiting Eindhoven to Maastricht and areas in between, I have made great connections and together we have made great progress but there is still much work to be done. These past two years, I have also served as volunteer coordinator, and along with the other members of the executive committee we have assembled a great group of hard-working volunteers working to ensure our local and national governments hear us.

 

As we approach the 2020 elections, it is more important than ever that we work together. There is much work to be done to ensure that our local, state, and federal representatives are reflective of our values. It is my belief that everyone must pitch in and do what they can, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye. Membership growth, representation and voter registration continue to be priorities for me. I will continue to pursue ways to get young people and students involved in Democrats Abroad as well as reaching out to other parts of the country. As Americans abroad I believe we must stay active and hold our party accountable, we must work to shape the Democratic Party that we wish to see and to ensure that Democrats win in elections. I hope you will allow me to continue on the progress that we’ve made thus far and re-elect me to serve another two years.

Treasurer:

Stephan Paine-

Originally from San Diego, California, I have been a Dutch resident for the last eight years and am currently a Lecturer at the Breda University of Applied Sciences within the Creative Business degree program. I have been quite involved with Democrats Abroad Netherlands (DANL) over the past year, working together with a small group of DA volunteers in organizing meet-ups in North Brabant and organizing a voter registration/information booth at the expat fair in Eindhoven. While a resident of San Diego, I went door-to-door for the John Kerry presidential campaign, soliciting donations and discussing campaign issues with potential voters. My support of the Democratic Party goes back a long way.

My goal for the role of Treasurer is simple, to get Democrats elected in 2020 by supporting the efforts of DANL and the DA get-out-the-vote initiative. If elected, I will use my knowledge and skills towards this purpose. My commitment is strong and I’m motivated by a desire to see America become a place of equality and respect.

I feel that I am an excellent candidate for the role of Treasurer because of my integrity and attention to detail. I am also an MBA graduate from the State University of New York, Buffalo. I have the required time to invest in this endeavor and promise to make this very important 2020 election a personal priority.

 

I hope you will support my candidacy for Treasurer and I look forward to meeting you at the 2019 Annual General Meeting.

Member-at-large:

Ingrid Lantz-

I have always felt that participation in the democratic process is an essential part of living in the U.S. Now that I'm no longer living in the U.S., I feel this even more - I want to maintain my ties to my home country and help nurture our democracy in whatever way is possible from afar.

When I lived in the US, I was very active as a phone banker during voting season, door-knocker on Capitol Hill and with my local representatives - and even a door-to-door neighborhood campaigner for candidates from Gore to Obama.

 

I also worked in the Democratic convention office for two months preparing for Obama's election in 2008. For the past 3 years, I've watched my country from abroad - and when I don't feel like weeping about what's happening to the democratic process, I'm angry - but now I want to take action. I'd like to see what a few of us determined expats can do and maybe surprise those who think we don't care. I'd be honored if you elected me to be a member at-large.

Adam J. Neufeld -

Hi, my name is Adam Neufeld and am committed to the values and vision of the Democratic Party. I was born and raised in a section of the Bronx called Riverdale, where I developed a love of politics early in my life. I have worked on local campaigns throughout New York City, including the position of community organizer for the Bill Thompson mayoral campaign in 2013.

I graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2015 and currently am a master’s graduate student at Erasmus University where I study Governance and Development Policy in The Hague. I have professional experience working in marketing, promotion and product development, and fundraising. Given this background, I believe I can fulfill the requirements of the Member-at-Large position.

 

Given the current challenges dividing the party, I believe we need to build a more cohesive and inclusive vision and party that brings diverse stakeholders (Disabled, LGBTQ+ Women, Youth etc.) together. Rather than acting primarily as a change-agent, I am committed to being a bridge that meets this vision and brings these varied stakeholders together. I am committed to building bonds that bring our party together where we can forge ahead and build a new prosperous future for the party.

Audrey Tolbert-

My name is Audrey Tolbert and I moved to the Netherlands from New York City about 2.5 years ago, right before the 2016 elections. I have always been involved in politics to some degree: my father was a town commissioner in Maryland for the first 18 years of my life, I started canvassing for Get Out the Vote efforts in college, I was invited as a citizen journalist to cover the 2012 elections at NPR's headquarters in DC, and I did my best to phonebank for Democrats during both the 2016 and 2018 elections. I am particularly passionate about issues related to women's rights, education, and the environment.

As a member-at-large for DA Netherlands, I would like to focus on coordinating our volunteer efforts. There is a great sense of momentum within our community and I would like to help us harness that energy leading into 2020. I know I myself have had numerous ideas for fundraisers, events, etc that we could attend or produce but it can feel unclear how to go about doing so. By serving as a member-at-large, I would be able to help put a process in place for how members can take it upon themselves to do more for Democrats Abroad. I am also interested in eventually pursuing other roles on the board, so starting as a member-at-large would give me more insight into what that all entails.

On a more general note, I also think that I am a fun, approachable person who would strive to be a voice for all members. One of the great things about Democrats Abroad is how unique we are as a group. Some of us have been in the Netherlands for 20+ years and others (like myself) are just getting started on their expat journeys. I'm interested in hearing everyone's stories and bringing them to the table as best as I can.

Paul Verhagen-

To whom it may concern,

I hereby submit my candidacy for the Member-at-large position for the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad Netherlands. In this letter I will briefly describe my skills, competencies, and motivations for applying.

My name is Paul Verhagen (27), an American-Dutch national who grew up on the European side of the pond. From a very young age I have been immersed in American politics, with my mom being an American citizen and my dad being a journalist specializing in the US. I still own a 2008 Obama sweater and looking at it makes me nostalgic, angry, and sad; all of which are good reasons to roll up my sleeves and chip in. In my view there are three concrete reasons why I am a suitable candidate for Excom:

  1. More than half of American living in the Netherlands are younger than thirty. As a cohort, American nationals studying at Dutch universities are a vital constituency in our get out the vote efforts that are currently often left untapped. By virtue of both my age and alma mater I have an extensive network with the Dutch university scene and have previously co-organized voter registration events at Dutch universities for the 2018 midterms.
  1. There is increasing interest from Dutch media in American politics, meaning the ability to communicate in public fora or directly to the media is of increasing importance. Given my background as an expert on geo-politics at a leading Dutch think tank, I have given a wide range of interviews to numerous media outlets on (geo)political topics in both Dutch and English, in addition to having written articles on US politics.
  1. Data analytics with respect to voting is one of the new hot topics within US politics. I have extensive experience as a data scientist, meaning that, given sufficient data, it would be possible to distill insights into who our constituents are as Democrats Abroad. This includes voter registration trends, demographic breakdown, and aesthetically engaging data visualizations for social media and campaign events.

I hope I have clearly formulated my competencies with regard to this position, I look forward to your response.

Best regards,

 

Paul Verhagen

 

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