Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, or HKDems for short, 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 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 few 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
In some of its first actions the Club marched against the most shocking and damaging actions of the Trump Administration; sent volunteers to campaign with Stephanie Hanson’s successful race for State Senate in Delaware, maintaining the balance of power in that state; 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.
First Club Outreach: Saturday, May 20, 2017
9th Avenue International Food Festival
US Congressman Jerry Nadler at HKDems' 2019 Garden Party
HKDems Club members at Hell's Kitchen Park petitioning for the June 22, 2021 Primary.
In 2017 and 2018, HKDems ratified a new constitution, held a new election for club leadership, phone-banked to support other important Democratic races around the country, like Jon Ossoff, campaigned for new district leaders; and through grassroots, organized political actions, canvassing and petitioning HKDems became a major force in eliminating New York’s Independent Democratic Conference (the IDC) from our State Legislature.
Starting in the second year of the Club’s existence, District Leader Paul Devlin and HKDems focused on electing a full slate of judicial delegates and alternates in New York’s civil and supreme court who have values in line with the Club. Additionally, our District Leaders filled (by appointment) dozens of County Committee positions left vacant for decades. The Club also attracted dozens of participants weekly for letter writing, phone banking and post carding leading up to the November 2018 election.
We also held fundraising parties for candidates we supported, distributed Safe Space posters to local businesses, petitioned for and helped to fill needed spots for County Committee, held public forums with local elected officials, including Congressman Nadler, who talked about the Washington political scene and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried who talked about his Single Payer Health bill, and held a panel discussion with city officials and advocates on homelessness in the neighborhood.
HKDems also did a relief collection for Puerto Rico, got absentee ballots to elderly and disabled voters, registered neighbors to vote, and sponsored a voter registration pub crawl!
In 2019, HKDems held a first annual Garden Gala Party honoring local and national leaders who inspire us. The new Women's Committee planned political actions and built relationships with local charities. 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 small local women's shelter The Dwelling Place; and submitted a list of desired progressive legislative priorities to New York State Legislative Leaders.
In 2020, District Leader Marisa Redanty conducted forums with the US Census resulting in over 150 neighborhood residents gaining access to employment with Census 2020. The Club and its Direct Leaders convened meetings with neighborhood leaders and law enforcement to gain better police presence in HK to combat quality of life and petty crime issues. In April, 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 are proud to receive the support of Congressman Jerry Nadler, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, New York Attorney General Tish James, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Council Speaker Corey Johnson.