As Election Day 2022 draws near, The Beat spoke with leaders of the newly formed East Valley Democratic Club of Santa Clara County, a membership organization licensed by the county’s Democratic Party aimed at creating a cohesive, self-reliant community. among local Democrats. while supporting and possibly endorsing selected candidates…
The club’s president and secretary is former Milpitas City Council member and school board trustee Marsha Grilli, its vice president and treasurer is Ray Mueller, and its membership director is Clarence Madrilejos.
“There was a need,” Madrilejos explained, “to have a Democratic club on this side of the valley… We just don’t have a large, dedicated militant community…”
In the past there have been a few attempts at such clubs in the Berryessa area, so it made sense to consolidate Milpitas, Berryessa, Evergreen, Alum Rock and as much of the East Valley as possible into a new organization.
Madrilejos said: “In the long term, we want this club to be sustainable, able to build community, able to share common values and champion the candidates that this side of the valley cares about.” He added that right now “there is no unifying voice that can help push good people into elective office.”
Grilli pointed out that Milpitas already had the Milpitas Democratic Club for several years. It was led by Deepka Lalwani, who passed it on to Grilli, basically saying, Why not expand it and examine the problems of state that we all face?
Grilli underlined the priority of crossing local borders and building meaningful partnerships in order to open up our territory. According to Mueller, being able to tell that the East Valley Democratic Club was co-sponsoring a particular event prompted Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez to attend.
Mueller added, “The east side of San Jose is often seen as where the lowriders come from and where people get killed. Were not. And I think it’s a chance for us to be part of a bigger thing that makes us a little more respected.
“This side of the valley has been underrepresented, from Milpitas to Evergreen and everywhere in between,” Madrilejos explained.
This year the club is backing candidates endorsed by the county party, but in future they are looking to make their own endorsements. At the moment, they are in the process of raising awareness, as well as the members…
“We want it to last,” Madrilejos said. “I want to make sure that we have a strong foundation, that we’re building a strong sense of community… however diverse this side of the valley is, in terms of perspectives, approaches, backgrounds, backgrounds, history, race, gender, orientation and [it] ends up being durable.
All three leaders have close personal ties to the Democratic Party, highlighting its priorities, mindset, and past history…
“I’m gay,” Mueller said. “I don’t understand how Log Cabin Republicans are able to build this log cabin…” The first election Mueller worked on was in the 1980s, during the Reagan era, in Lake Forest, Illinois. They grew up in a mixed Democratic and Republican household, with their mother and father in each party. As they volunteered in the election, the students entered hoping to vote directly Republican. “They were obviously doing,” Mueller recalled, “what someone told them to do.” But they personally felt they wanted to have choices: “I think I feel more comfortable today, and safer, in a space with my fellow Democrats than I could ever feel in an event. republican.”
Grilli grew up in a Republican household. His father, a business owner, was “very Republican”. But when he died in 1993, she and her brother both switched to the Democratic Party. “The values of the Democrats align more with my values,” Grilli explained. “It makes me feel safer and that we are fighting for people.”
Madrilejos cited the behavior and contributions of Democrats throughout American history as significant, stating that without President Lyndon B. Johnson’s immigration modernization, “I probably wouldn’t be here.” Likewise, without the efforts and leadership of Democrats, “I probably wouldn’t have had the public education that I have.” He also said that “having good leaders advocating for policies, and hopefully promoting policies, to expand economic power [and] equality” allows people to buy a house and find good jobs.
“I see the Democratic Party as a party that creates the structure of empowerment,” Madrilejos added. Meanwhile, Madrilejos said the Republican Party’s belief in “unfettered capitalism” is “very dangerous for society.” He believes capitalism can work, but with safeguards in place: “We should have the structures in place to succeed.”
Learn more about the East Valley Democratic Club of Santa Clara County here.