Why You Should Be A PCP

By Carl Fisher, Washington County CD-6 Delegation Chair

Photos of 8 local legislators

I want you to look at this photo of past and present Oregon legislators from the last few years and guess what they all have in common. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans, some are no longer serving in Salem and others are still there. Have your guess? Well, if you guessed that all of these people were appointed to a legislative seat, you should pat yourself on the back.

Between 2016 and 2022, twenty-nine legislators have found themselves in Salem due to going through the appointment process. Precinct Committee Persons from the party gather in the district and nominate between 3-5 people and send that list to the county commissioners, and those commissioners then select the next legislator. Most of the time Precinct Committee Persons rank their choices 1,2 and 3, and the Commissioners for the most part select the top choice of the rank-and-file party members. Since 2016, County Commissioners have only twice overlooked the ‘first choice’ of the party members and selected someone else from the list.

Why am I sharing all this wonky info with you? Why should you care?  We recently found emails in our inbox telling us it is time again to file to be a Precinct Committee Person. With twenty-nine appointments in the last few years, PCPs can wield a great deal of influence in who becomes a legislator. By filling out a form and getting 3 votes in the May 2024 primary you may be setting yourself up to be fairly influential in legislative politics. This is the reason we need well-informed community members to sign up to be a Precinct Committee Person. Who we send to Salem matters. Will they be a voice that reflects our values? Will they represent our communities?  Only you as a PCP can make sure that happens when the appointment process starts.

I would encourage you to step up and file to appear on the May 2024 ballot for a PCP position if you think you should have a say in legislative appointments. As a PCP in one of these districts where an appointment process takes place, you are suddenly introduced to a level of retail politics you might only experience if you lived in an early primary state like New Hampshire or South Carolina. The candidates seek you out and want to get to know you and of course, ask if you will vote for them at the convention. Most Oregonians don’t ever get to experience that level of interest in their votes.

Photo of people counting votes in a local school hallway

Ballot counting of PCP votes for an appointment at the Senate District 19 Convention in 2018

But wait–there’s more!

In addition to getting a say in legislative appointments, you also will unlock these great opportunities!

You’ll get to be a voice for your community in the county party and help elect officers and delegates to state and federal committees.

You’ll get a vote on which candidates the county party endorses for Mayor, City Council, County Commissioner, School Board, and countless other positions.

You’ll get to share important updates about elections and voting with your Democratic neighbors as one of our Neighborhood Leaders. You even get a list of the Democrats that live on your street! It always surprises people to discover they are not the only ones on the block.

Just a few of the amazing benefits of being a PCP in our county party!

Take a look again at that photo of appointed legislators. Two of them are now members of Congress. One of them is running for State Treasurer, another is Senate President. Those advancements in their careers started with PCPs telling county commissioners that they wanted them as their state legislators.

You can read more about becoming a PCP here

If you feel you are ready to file to be on the ballot you can do so by signing up online here

Or if you would rather fill out a paper form and send it or drop it off at your county elections office you can do that by filling out his PDF

There is a key piece of information you will need if you are to file to be a PCP. You need to know your precinct number. Your county elections office can give you this info. For Washington County residents you can enter your address in this online map and get your precinct number.

It doesn’t cost anything to file for PCP and once you have filed you can go out and campaign for votes in the May 2024 primary! Don’t worry, you only need 3 votes to win, but go ahead and make yourself a little card to hand out to your neighbors, or wear a button even! That’s what I do when I go out and do my Neighborhood Leader list. This is your chance to make politics fun.


Carl Fisher is a longtime PCP & recently elected Commissioner of the Tualatin Valley Water District