Much like Man Eegee, I'm experiencing a bit of a writer's block this week (or maybe I just don't have much to say :) ), so this post and my next post will essentially just be "copy and paste" posts.
For this first one, one of the candidates for an Obama district level delegate slot at this summer's national convention, Dritan Zela, is also a candidate for an at-large delegate slot has written a letter to state committee members in support of his candidacy at the April 26 meeting of the State Committee. I'm publishing it here with his permission. As I'm not a member of the State Committee, this is done as a courtesy, not an endorsement.
From Dr. Dritan Zela -
Dear State Committee Member,
I am an ASU Mathematics doctoral graduate who never was involved in politics until 2003. I did not grow up as a free man but lived under one of the world’s most repressive communist regimes and, for much of my early life, just going to college or speaking freely my mind was beyond my ability to conceive. I have seen and made the American dream come true - going, in my short life, from the most extreme sufferings and discrimination of a dictatorship to overthrowing it, from making burgers to receiving a Ph.D. in Mathematics with applications to Neuroscience, to being a professor at prestigious universities and community colleges, to working for the Department of Justice, to winning in Supreme Court a civil rights class-action lawsuit against the State of Arizona to protect the indigent healthcare, to being the 2006 employee of the year of Maricopa Community Colleges as well as of Scottsdale Community College, to winning the world prestigious Fulbright Scholar award, to making a very singular, unique impact on an American Presidential campaign, that of Wesley Clark and John Kerry, and later supporting Barack Obama’s historical campaign, and to being elected a 2004 DNC delegate.
From being the co-founder and leader of the Arizona for Clark grassroots organization, to being featured in local, national and international media on Clark, Kerry and education issues and to being the main organizer and national speaker in many rallies for Clark, Kerry or Kosova, from filing on behalf of Gen. Clark his candidacy paperwork with the Secretary of State to helping deliver the immigrant vote to Clark and Kerry, to doing house parties, phone calls, mailing/emailing and making aware the ethnic communities and democratic clubs I represent or am connected with about Sen. Obama helping deliver their vote for him, my contribution to the democratic process has been very singular. Over the years, I worked as a student leader to help overthrow one of the most repressive communist regimes, compiled petitions, organized phone banks, had thousands of people sign petitions to successfully lobby U.S. Congress, current and former U.S. Presidents and iconic figures like Mohammed Ali by influencing them successfully to support intervention for stopping the genocide and ethnic cleansing and help stabilize the Balkans; developed advocacy strategies in support of immigrant, civil rights, ethnic, minority and against genocide causes as well as for presidential campaigns. I have founded, led and advised many cultural, student and Democratic organizations and advocacy groups including SCC Democratic club, Arizona Asian-American democratic association, etc. and have worked closely with Blue Mondays organization and Arizona college democrats. I have made singular impacts on several occasions for just causes like the healthcare in Arizona where, almost single handedly, I forced the state in Supreme Court to change the laws to provide healthcare for the Arizona most vulnerable. As part of my Fulbright Scholar grant in Europe, I became the lead attorney representing Albania and its soccer champion team in a historical international trial against Union of European Football Associations.
Being I am an Albanian-American, I thought it would be of interest to hear from someone whose people experienced the genocide first hand in Kosova and which the Clinton Administration put a stop to it. We would be living in a very different world today if the Bush administration had followed the lessons of its democratic predecessor in Kosova and the visionary ideas of Barack Obama in regard to policies on Iraq and Iran. Multilateralism, collaboration and understanding of people, postwar planning, commitment to the use of force only as a last resort - these are the ingredients of a lasting success, the ingredients of winning, not just the combat operation, but winning the hearts and minds of people and the stability and peace, the toughest battle of all and it were those kind of policies of Democrats that helped Kosova recently win independence. People of Iraq and of the world deserve the same kind of leadership that the Albanian people in Kosova received; the American people,
the American troops deserve the same level of support, visionary ideas and type of inspiring and inclusive experience and Barack Obama and this Democratic Party can deliver those kinds of results, because they already have. Though Obama is the epitome of immigrant’s dream come true, immigrants are still very under-represented group in US and I would like you to consider that as well when you vote.
I know that for most of you being a free person, not being scared for your life, for speaking up your mind or getting an education are things that may be taken for granted but for me, who experienced first hand one of the most repressive communist regimes, and for my Albanian Kosovar people, who saw the unspeakable horrors of genocide, it is a matter of visceral understanding that hope is not a passing fad but a reality, that idealism and inspiration are necessary seeds for positive social change, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are everyday as precious as the air we breathe and we cannot thank enough this country for helping me and millions of immigrants, who came here because of Statue of Liberty “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” motto, experience these basic rights all over again. All my life, I have fought for democracy, a society governed by the rule of law and not of men, a free market economy and multi-party elections, and those ideals have been defended by me and my family not just with words, time or money but sometimes with the price of internment, imprisonment or even life, not just recently, but all my life and with actions that have changed dictatorial regimes, changed state laws, and influenced national policies.
Whether our ancestors have been here for thousands of years or came here on the Mayflower or in slave ships, whether they landed on Ellis Island, JFK or LAX airports or swam over to Miami, if you believe in the declaration of independence and the constitution, if one accepts the values of freedom, equal rights and other core values this country stands for then you are an American. Being an immigrant, it is time that we all become proud of our president, it is time that someone revives the ideal of what makes this country so great and different from the rest of world, the ideal that this is the country of “What you know and not who you know or who your daddy knows”, the ideal of to “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”, the ideal that our founders proclaimed that we are all created equal in the eyes of God and this Democratic Party and Senator Obama can bring back to us those ideals and I believe I offer a very unique representation of those ideals that Barack Obama personifies in.
I humbly ask you to consider what I have to offer.
Dr. Dritán Zela
P.S. Below is my bio and some articles on me, just in case you may want to know more.
One of my colleagues, Professor William Maxwell who was educated at Harvard, the
first professor of thinking in US and who has been dean of schools of education in Fiji, Nigeria, Texas and California and who has lived and taught in more than fifty nations, in his endorsement said: “I feel that American prestige has suffered enormously among well informed persons around the world over the last few years. Dr. Dritan Zela, although an immigrant, embraces the American ideals more passionately than any other academic I have met in recent years. As an African American, I wish that the older Americans, native, white, black, hispanic and others, would defend intellectually the freedoms that made America unique and great as vigorously as Dritan does. Dritan brings to political discourse a first class intellect and a purified passion."
Amy B. Berg: former vice chair and co-founder of Scottsdale Community College Democratic Club, former Chair of College Democrats of Arizona
Dr. Nancy Buel: former State Committee Member, LD8 State Representative candidate, 2004 DNC Delegate
Martha Bruneau: LD4 Chair, Founder of the Blue Mondays, former State Committee Member, LD19 State Senate candidate, 2004 DNC Delegate
Virgel Cain: State Committee Member, LD7 Vice Chair, former LD7 Chair, LD7 State Representative candidate, 2004 DNC Delegate
Ken Clark: former State Representative, 2004 DNC Delegate, Steering Committee Member of John Kerry’s Arizona Campaign, Chair of Arizona Fair Districts/Fair Elections Project
Dr. Robert Murray Davis: Widely published Author, retired University of Oklahoma Professor and former President of the Western Literature Association
Marilyn Fox: State Committee Member, LD7 Chair, LD7 State Representative candidate
Dr. Bonnie A. Gray: Executive Director of Maricopa Community Colleges POWER Diversity Institute, Director of Maricopa Community Colleges Diversity Infusion Program, Professor of Psychology and former Department Chair at Scottsdale Community College
Dr. Paul N. Grocoff: Doctoral Graduate in architecture, university Faculty, President of Avant-Garde Lighting Design and Consulting
Sally Hart: Senior Policy & Litigation Attorney for Center for Medicare Advocacy
Mathew Jewett: State Committee Member, Vice Chair of LD15, 2004 DNC Delegate, Children's Action Alliance Research Associate
James Kimes: 2004 LD1 State Representative candidate, 2002 Gov. Napolitano’s co campaign Coordinator for Yavapai County
Jeffrey Tucker: LD20 Secretary
Jim Hogan: State Committee Member
Dr. William Maxwell: Harvard Doctoral Graduate, first US Professor of Thinking, prominent African-American, Professor and Dean in over fifty nations
Dr. Mark Crispin Miller: John Hopkins University Doctoral Graduate, Professor of media ecology at New York University, national well-renown Researcher of modern propaganda, history and tactics of advertising, American film, and media ownership, national well-renown featured Speaker
Margaret Hogan: LD8 Chair, State Committee Member, former Dean
Kathleen O’Brien: State Committee Member, Administrator of Pediatric Surgeons of Phoenix
Ron Owen: former State Committee Member, former LD8 Chair, 2004 DNC Delegate
Mark Riddle: Arizona State Director of Wesley Clark 2004 Presidential Campaign, Partner in FRCR, a major political media firm
Rano Singh: 2006 Democratic Party State Treasurer Candidate, 2004 LD6 State Representative candidate, Commissioner of Governor Napolitano’s Citizen’s Finance Review Commission, Founder and Chair of Arizona Indo-Democrats, 2008 US SBA Minority Business Champion for Arizona
Slade Mead: former State Senator, 2006 Democratic Party State Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate, lawyer, professional sports consultant, former Vice-Chair of Appropriations, Government and Education Senate Committees, Maricopa Regional School District Board and Receiver Board member
Suzanne Steadman: former Director of International Study Programs at Arizona State University
HRH Agnes Umuligirwa: Princess and Heiress of Rwanda, NAACP Freedom Fund Award Recipient
2004 Arizona DraftClark Presidential Campaign Core Founders
Note to any other PLEO/At-Large candidates: If you have one, I'd be happy to post a similar letter for you. If interested, please let me know at cpmaz[at]yahoo.com.