In light of the recent controversies surrounding Polk County Democrats leadership and their censure of 3rd District Congressional Candidate, Heather Ryan, I asked Polk County Democrats Co-Chair, Dylan Funk, to sit down with me for an interview.
Me: It looks from the outside like you were going to be a part of the unifying process. Sean seemed to make a generous gesture when he won the PCD chair. Many progressives felt it was just a red herring.
Dylan: Allow me to say that there was going to be co-chair if either of us had won. Before the election, we talked about the need for unity and I would be the representative of the Bernie Supporters and Sean would be the representative of the Clinton Supporters. I expected to share a seat at the executive table to be the voice of my constituents and to advise on what my constituents want and how they feel the Central Committee is addressing their issues.
Me: After the election, Sean obviously agreed and made the announcement. Then what happened?
Dylan: As part of the membership sub-committee with Max Knauer, I have made progress filling open seats in various precincts. One such leader is Eric Landon. An Ankeny resident and previous Trump voter who is now a registered Democrat and precinct leader. His father is John Landon, an Iowa House Republican. That is how I spent my time during the general election and after, converting the “enemy”. Yet, here is a recent text conversation I had with Sean.
Sean Bagniewski: Would you agree that this honorary deputy co-chair position hasn’t been a good fit and maybe we should just have you be a Central Committee member? We can’t be publicly attacking each other
D: I think the position would have been a great fit had I been included in the executive meetings and executive decisions. This was supposed to be a show of unity and by excluding me. You have only divided the party. And if you are asking me to step down, that won’t happen. You will have to publicly fire me from my position.
S: You can’t be at executive meetings because we discuss HR issues and you’re not an actual executive committee member.
D: We have talked about setting up bi-weekly meetings to discuss the issues that I need to take back to help unite the party and that never seems to happen We only truly tried to make it happen once and couldn’t get a schedule worked out between you, me and Rachel.
S: And, just to be clear, there’s nothing to remove you from. Your position was created by me and you were appointed by me.
Me: If the co-chair position has turned into lip service to appease you and your progressive backers, what do you make of it? Have you been to an executive committee meeting?
Dylan: No. While Sean did not have to create the co-chair position, he did. I am committed to resolving the Clinton/Bernie past and moving forward with a unified front. But Sean’s personal agenda has not provided any unity, even created divisiveness. Look at his removing Tamyra Harrison and this Heather Ryan censorship. I have not been invited to one executive meeting and other attempts to meet have failed by Sean’s inability to make time.
Me: Wow, that doesn’t look unifying at all. Certainly, it confirms the feeling progressives have had with Sean. What’s next for you?
Dylan: I’m calling on Sean to review his commitments as PCD chair. He has not made the effort to create a whole from the fractious divide that occurred. He is more concerned with his own interests than for Polk County, which, as chair, is such a distraction from what the party needs. We should have an inclusive family feel. Establishing our motivations for winning the 2018 races. Medicare for all, fight for fifteen, public education, the whole of our democratic platform. His personal agenda is not big enough to meet the party’s needs. He has failed in his role as chair. Sean has been selfish and vindictive and his response to Heather Ryan’s situation has hurt our party.
Me: Thank you for your time and the efforts you make in building an inclusive and progressive party.
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