Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, or HKDems, was formed on Saturday, January 14, 2017. After the 2016 elections, neighborhood residents felt a new and urgent need for engagement in local and national politics. The neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen had lacked an active Democratic Club for years, and many felt the need to follow this advice: “When they go low, we go local.” In the years since its inception, HKDems has positioned itself to be one of New York City's most desired candidate endorsements to elected office.
Inaugural Club Meeting: Saturday, January 14, 2017
Most recently, the HKDems campaigned on behalf of our endorsed candidates in the local 2021 Democratic Primary. We were proud to help Brad Lander become the Democratic nominee for Comptroller, Jumaane Williams become the Democratic nominee for Public Advocate, Alvin Bragg become the Democratic nominee for Manhattan District Attorney, and Erik Bottcher become the Democratic nominee for City Council District 3.
We also put our electoral muscle behind phone banking and post card writing for the Georgia special election that led to the victories of Senators Warnock and Ossoff and Democratic control of the Senate.
We've held virtual membership meetings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including an informative presentation on Ranked Choice Voting from Rank the Vote NYC. We were proud to keep our membership informed and updated during this tumultuous time.
Finally, throughout the summer our Membership & Outreach Committee held a new membership drive. Each weekend, they tabled in a different area of our neighborhood and they signed up over 50 new members from across Hell's Kitchen. With these new additions, the HKDems stands at 240 members strong.
Early Outreach: Club Members canvassing for Stephanie Hansen, elected in 2017 to the Delaware State Senate.
US Congressman Jerry Nadler at HKDems' 2019 Garden Party
HKDems Club members at Hell's Kitchen Park petitioning for the June 22, 2021 Primary.
History of Action
In some of our first actions, the HKDems marched against the most shocking and damaging actions of the Trump Administration and worked with local businesses and employees to give out basic multilingual advice on the best course of action in the event of ICE raids.
We ratified a new constitution and campaigned for new district leaders. Through grassroots political actions like canvassing and petitioning, HKDems became a major force in eliminating New York’s Independent Democratic Conference (the IDC) from our State Legislature.
Additionally, our District Leaders filled dozens of County Committee positions that had been left vacant for decades. The Club also attracted dozens of weekly participants for letter and post card writing, and phone banking ahead of the November 2018 election.
We also distributed Safe Space posters to local businesses and held a panel discussion with city officials and advocates on homelessness in the neighborhood.
We've held public forums with local elected officials, including Congressman Nadler, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, NY District Attorney Tish James, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal.
HKDems held a relief collection for Puerto Rico, got absentee ballots to elderly and disabled voters, and sponsored a voter registration pub crawl.
We held our first annual Garden Gala Party honoring local and national leaders who inspire us. We presented Debate Watch Parties for the Democratic Presidential Primaries; and established a Politics Committee, helping the Club advocate and act on its values at all levels of government.
While District Leaders filled needs for quality poll site workers in our district, the Club raised needed funds for a local women's shelter, The Dwelling Place and submitted a list of desired progressive legislative priorities to New York State Legislative Leaders.
The Club and its Direct Leaders convened meetings with neighborhood leaders and law enforcement in Hell's Kitchen to discuss quality of life and petty crime issues. In April of 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Club hosted its first online monthly meeting to keep its members updated and engaged.
The Club continues to grow rapidly, welcoming new members at every event. We hope you'll join us.