SOMERVILLE DEMOCRATIC WARD & CITY COMMITTEE BY-LAWS
(As amended 3/29/2021)
ARTICLE I, NAME
This organization shall be known as the Somerville Democratic Ward and City Committee.
ARTICLE II, PURPOSE
The Committee is organized and constituted under authority of and in accordance with the provisions of the General Laws of Massachusetts and shall have as its purposes the following: to foster and advance the ideals and aims of the Democratic Party; to work in cooperation with the Democratic State Committee; to aid in carrying out the planks of the platform of the State and National Committees of the Party; to work and organize for the success of the Democratic candidates in the City, State and in the Nation; to do all things necessary to strengthen the Democratic Party in Somerville.
ARTICLE III, MEMBERSHIP
The Somerville Democratic Ward and City Committee shall be composed of the following:
- Elected Members. The members of the seven Ward Committees elected by the voters of each ward at the presidential primary election and/or their successors shall have the right to vote on all Ward and City Committee matters. There can be no more than 35 elected members from each ward.
- 20 Year Members. Members who have served for twenty consecutive years on a Ward Committee become 20 year members and no longer have to be re-elected. They do not count toward the limits of the number of elected members for the Ward Committee. When an elected member becomes a 20 year member the Ward Committee can fill the vacant elected member position. 20 year members retain full voting privileges in any Ward and on the City Committee as long as they meet the requirements for residency.
- “Voting Members” include all elected members and 20 year members.
- Associate Members may be elected by a majority vote of the appropriate Ward Committee. Associate members shall not have the right to vote on Ward and City Committee matters or hold office. When there are vacant elected member seats vacancies shall be filled by vote of the Committee. Associate members, if any, shall be the candidates first considered for filling the vacancies.
- No person shall be eligible for membership in the Democratic Ward and City Committee unless they are an enrolled Democratic voter in the City of Somerville, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If a member changes or cancels their party enrollment, they shall immediately cease to be a member of the ward and city committee.
- Any elected or associate member of the Committee who changes residence from the ward during their term shall cease to be a member of the Committee at that time .
- Removal of Local Members. Members and officers pledge themselves by accepting office to perform diligently and honorably their duties or resign. Members of ward committees may be removed by procedures guaranteeing adequate notice and due process and by a 2/3 vote of the ward committee, a quorum being present, for: a) failure to attend at least half of the regularly scheduled committee meetings during any calendar year. b) public support for or financial contribution to an opponent of a nominee of the Democratic party who publicly supports the platform of the Democratic party as adopted at the most recent state and national Democratic convention. A member for whom a long and deeply held belief would be violated by support of the nominee shall not be removed under this section.
ARTICLE IV, WARD AND CITY COMMITTEE COMPOSITION
Each Ward Committee shall retain the right to convene meetings at the direction of the Chair to deal with matters deemed important to the Democratic Party, including without limitation endorsement of Democratic candidates, discussions of Party platforms or planks, fundraising. etc. The City Committee, which shall be composed of the membership of the seven Ward Committees, shall convene at the call of the City Committee Chair for the same or similar purposes.
ARTICLE V, QUORUM
A quorum of a Ward Committee shall exist when at least 5 of the voting members are present. A quorum of the City Committee shall exist when at least 10 voting members are present.
ARTICLE VI, OFFICERS
- The City Committee shall have the following officers: Chair, 1st Vice Chair, 2nd Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Diversity Officer, each elected by the members as these by-laws provide. The two Vice Chairs shall be of different genders.
- Each Ward Committee shall have the following officers: Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Diversity Officer, each elected by the members as these by-laws provide. The Chair and Vice Chair shall be of different genders. A Ward may instead elect two Vice Chairs of different genders without regard to the gender of the chair.
- No person other than a voting member of a Ward Committee shall hold office in a Ward Committee or in the City Committee.
- Nomination and election of officers shall be held each presidential primary election year at the first meeting of the Ward and/or City Committee following such primary. Terms are two years. A new election will be held in the first half of the next evenly numbered year.
- The election of officers shall be determined by the winning member receiving the largest number of votes cast.
- Any person appointed to a subcommittee or a leadership role for a specific project by the Chair of a Ward committee or the City Committee shall serve at the discretion of the Chair.
ARTICLE VII, DUTIES OF OFFICERS
a) The Chair of each Ward Committee and the City Committee shall preside at all meetings of their respective Committees as well as the caucus to elect delegates to the state convention.
b) The Chair shall be the only person empowered to incur liabilities that shall be binding upon such Committee.
c) The 1st or 2nd Vice Chair shall serve as Chair pro-tem of the Committee in the absence of the Chair.
d) The Chair or designated Vice Chair shall serve Ex-Officio on all committees.
1st Vice Chair and 2nd Vice Chair
a) The Vice Chair shall perform such duties as are designated by the Chair.
b) The 1st Vice Chair shall serve as Chair pro- tem of the Committee in the absence of the Chair. The 2nd Vice Chair shall serve as Chair pro-tem in the absence of the Chair and the 1st Vice Chair.
a) The Secretary shall keep a record of all the proceedings of the Committee and shall send notices of meetings and perform all other duties appropriate and consistent with the office. The Secretary shall have the authority to delegate functions to the clerks or assistants.
b) The Secretary’s report of the previous meeting shall be distributed by email prior to each meeting. Members who do not have access to email can request printed materials from the Chair or the Secretary. The Secretary shall deliver all books, electronic records and access credentials, papers and property of the Committee in their possession to their successor.
c) In the absence of the Secretary, the Chair shall designate an elected member to service as Secretary pro tem until they return.
a) The Treasurer of each Ward Committee shall be empowered to open an account in a bank and execute a signature card in the name of the Ward Committee and shall deposit all funds received in the bank including without limitation the deposit of Ward Committee dues authorized by these by-laws. The Treasurer of the City Committee shall be informed of the existence and balances of these accounts.
b) The Treasurer of the City Committee shall be empowered to open an account in a bank and execute a signature card in the name of the City Committee and shall deposit all funds received in the bank including without limitation the deposit of City committee dues authorized by these by-laws. The Treasurer of the City Committee shall be authorized to collect dues from all members of the Ward and City Committees.
c) The Treasurer’s Report shall be read at each meeting.
d) All expenditures must be authorized in advance by the Chair. All disbursements shall be made by check or auditable electronic instrument. The Treasurer shall sign checks for all expenditures of money for authorized and proper purposes.
e) At the request of the City Committee, the Treasurer’s accounts may be referred to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) for review, and a report of the review shall be read at the next meeting of the elected members following the audit.
f) The Treasurer shall deliver to their successor in office all money and property as well as all financial records of the Committee within fifteen (15) days after the election of their successor.
g) In the absence of the Treasurer, the Chair shall designate an elected member to serve in their place pro-tem until they return to their duties.
a) The Diversity Officer of the City Committee shall serve as a member of the Executive Committee and shall provide input to the Executive Committee regarding how best to ensure that all activities and functions of the Democratic Party be accessible and open to all registered Democrats, regardless of race, color, national origin, age, ancestry, religious creed, gender, sexual orientation, familial status, disability, or other protected class status.
b) The Diversity Officer(s) for the respective Ward Committees shall be responsible for organizing outreach efforts for the Committee which are designed to increase participation in the Somerville Democratic Party by members of the protected categories outlined in (a.) above.
ARTICLE VIII, OFFICER VACANCIES
The following rules govern the filling of vacancies in both the Ward and City Committees.
In the event of a vacancy occurring in the office of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer or Diversity Officer due to death, resignation or inability to serve for any reason, or if the office is declared vacant by a two-thirds vote of the voting members present and voting at a duly called meeting, such vacancy shall be filled as follows:
a) The Chair Pro-Tem, in the case of a vacancy in the office of Chair, shall call a meeting of the voting members no less than seven (7) days and no more than thirty (30) days after the vacancy occurs, at which time a new Chair shall be elected by a majority vote of the voting members present and voting.
b) In the event of a vacancy in the office of Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, of Diversity Office, the Chair shall call a special meeting of the elected members no less than seven (7) days and no more than thirty (30) days after the vacancy occurs, at which time a new Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer or Diversity Officer shall be elected by a majority vote of the elected members present and voting.
c) All members of the Ward Committee or City Committee shall be notified by email of any special meetings called to fill vacancies in the offices of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer or Diversity Officer at least seventy-two (72) hours prior to said meetings.
ARTICLE IX ENDORSEMENTS
The following provisions shall apply to endorsement votes by the City Committee:
a) At the discretion of the Chair, city-wide committee voting may be done using an online electronic process. This process applies to endorsements of Democratic candidates for public office and issues including ballot questions. Only Voting Members’ votes will be counted and there shall be a minimum of 25 participating members required for any online voting process. Members who cannot vote electronically may request assistance from the chair.
b) In a vote taking place during a General City Committee the quorum rules detailed in Article V shall apply.
c) At least 7 days prior to any candidate endorsement vote by a City Committee, the City Committee Chair shall provide notice by email or telephone to each member of the City Committee and to the City Committee chair. The notice shall include the time and location of the vote, or, if the vote will be done online, the notice shall describe how to access the online ballot. If the vote is to be done online, the online ballot may be made available at the time that the notice is sent, so long as it will remain open for at least 7 days.
The following provisions shall apply to endorsement votes by Ward Committees:
a) At the discretion of the Ward Chair, voting for Ward Committee endorsements may be done using an online electronic process. This process applies to endorsements of Democratic candidates for public office and issues including ballot questions. Only Voting Members’ votes will be counted in any endorsement vote and the quorum rules detailed in Article V shall apply.
b) At least 7 days prior to any candidate endorsement vote by a Ward Committee, the Ward Committee Chair shall provide notice by email or telephone to each member of the Ward Committee and to the City Committee chair. The notice shall include the time and location of the vote, or, if the vote will be done online, the notice shall describe how to access the online ballot. If the vote is to be done online, the online ballot may be made available at the time that the notice is sent, so long as it will remain open for at least 7 days.
ARTICLE X, COMMITTEES
There shall be formed an Executive Committee consisting of the Officers of the City Committee (Chair, Vice Chairs, Secretary, Treasurer, and Diversity Officer) and such other officers as may be elected by the members in accordance with these by-laws as well as the Chair of the seven Ward Committees.
The Executive Committee shall be empowered by majority vote to schedule meetings of the full City Committee; to raise and expend money from the City Committee Treasury in furtherance of the goals of the Democratic Party in Somerville; and to carry out such other duties and responsibilities as are delegated to the Executive Committee by the full City Committee. The Executive Committee shall meet not less than four times each year.
The By-Laws Committee shall be a standing committee comprised of one representative from each of the seven ward committees. Each Ward Committee Chair shall appoint a representative who will serve for a one year term.
Ad Hoc Committees
Ad-Hoc Committees may be appointed by the Chair at any time. Such Ad-Hoc Committees will be formed as needed to accomplish specific goals and tasks of the organization such as planning special events.
ARTICLE XI, MEETINGS
- There shall be a minimum of four meetings a year of each Ward Committee and the City Committee at times and places to be designated by the Chair. Nothing in this section shall be construed to be in violation of the General Laws of Massachusetts.
- A Duly Called Meeting shall require that an email notice be sent to all members of the particular Ward or City Committee. Notices shall be sent at least seven days prior to the date of the meeting.
- The Chair of each Ward Committee shall call a special meeting upon a written or emailed petition signed by ten (10) elected Committee members which petition shall set forth the purpose or purposes of the proposed meeting. In the event that the Chair fails to call a meeting within ten (10) days of receipt of the petition, ten (10) elected members of the appropriate Committee may call a special meeting by giving at least seventy-two (72) hours notice in writing or emailed to all members of such committee, stating the date, time, place and purpose of said meeting. No business other than that specified in the Call shall be transacted at any special meeting.
ARTICLE XII, CHANGES IN THE BY-LAWS
These By-Laws may be amended or repealed using the following procedures:
a) A written request for the repeal or amendment, signed by at least ten members of the City Committee, must be submitted to the Chair of the City Committee prior to the call of the next meeting of the City Committee.
b) The Chair shall refer the proposed amendment to the By-Laws Committee. The Chair also has the power to initiate a By-Laws review.
c) The By-Laws Committee shall study the proposed amendment(s) and shall make a report with the committee’s recommendation(s) to the full City Committee membership not later than the following meeting. A two-thirds vote of those members present and voting shall be required to adopt by changes in the By-Laws.
d) Unless and until amended or repealed by the elected members, these By-Laws shall continue in effect from year to year, and no formal motion shall be necessary at any meeting of the City Committee in order that they continue in force.
ARTICLE XIII, INTERPRETATION OF THE BY-LAWS
In case of any question arising as to the interpretation of any provision of the By-Laws, the Chair shall refer the matter immediately to the By-Laws Committee which shall immediately confer and then render a decision, which decision shall be binding upon the body unless overruled by a vote of two-thirds of the elected members present and voting.
ARTICLE XIV, ORDER OF BUSINESS
The order of business at meetings shall be as follows:
- Sign in of officers and elected members
- Reviewing minutes of the previous meeting.
- Reports of officers and committees
- Reading of communications addressed to the Ward or City Committee
- Unfinished business
- New business
ARTICLE XV, CONDUCT OF MEETINGS
The meetings of the Democratic Ward and City Committee shall be conducted in accordance with the rules of parliamentary procedure set forth in the most current version of Roberts’ Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
ARTICLE XVI, DUES
The dues for membership in the Democratic Ward and City Committee shall be assessed and collected as follows:
- The Treasurer of the City Committee shall be authorized to collect dues from all members of the Ward and City Committees.
- Dues rates for the City Committee shall be proposed by the City Committee Executive Committee. Members of the City Committee will be notified of the proposed dues rate (with the amount specified) by email prior to the meeting of the City Committee where the proposed dues will be voted on. At the City Committee meeting the City Committee may adopt the dues rate as proposed or a lower rate, by two-thirds vote.
- A ward committee may assess dues when the committee members are notified by email that a dues assessment proposal (with the amount specified) will be included on the agenda of the next meeting. The committee may adopt the dues rate as proposed or a lower rate, by two-thirds vote. The ward dues will be collected by the ward committee treasurer.
- Payment of dues is voluntary, but encouraged. No voting member will be penalized for non-payment of dues.