Citing his lifetime love for politics, experience working with the community and success in business, Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah co-founder Jim Dabakis is running for Utah Democratic Party Chairman.
Dabakis is a well-known Utah businessman and philanthropist. Since starting Equality Utah, 12 Utah municipalities have gone on to pass anti-discrimination ordinances to protect against bias based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Utah Pride Center serves as a non-profit organization to help educate and provide services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of Utah.
After being involved with politics, but never holding an elected position, Dabakis said it was time for him to be involved.
“It really became time for me to either serve or stop talking about politics,” Dabakis said. “I am very excited about the possibility to serve and meet Utah Democrats.”
Dabakis would be the first openly-gay chairman of the Utah Democratic Party. Aside from the other advancements of gay rights, Dabakis was a member of the “gang of five,” the group that met with Mormon Church leaders to help garner support for anti-discrimination laws. The gang helped build an alliance with, and the support of, the LDS Church and played a key role in helping the laws be passed in Salt Lake City and 11 other municipalities.
While he is campaigning, and if elected, while he is representing the party, he said he wants to show Utahns that there are benefits to a functioning two-party system and having Democratic representatives.
“I think the Democratic Party is in touch with the values of most Utahns,” Dabakis said. “One of the key issues is openness.”
Dabakis said he will make raising money for the party his number one priority in order to meet other goals and help Utahns realize the benefits of having Democratic representatives and a real two-party system.
“We need a government that represents the two-party system that our founders envisioned. This is a one-party state,” Dabakis said. “North Korea and China also have a one-party states. And it doesn’t seem to be working out well for them.”
Dabakis said he is hoping to use his successful experience in the private sector and his history of community involvement to help raise more funds for the party.
The state Democratic convention does not have an official date, but will be held sometime this summer. If elected Dabakis said he will only accept a salary of $1 per year.
Dabakis is the only registered candidate for the seat. The current chair, Wayne Holland, has not announced his candidacy and did not return calls made by QSaltLake.