This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
For Democrats to move forward, the party must stop "looking in the rear view mirror" at its defeat in the 2016 election and the division that sprouted between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, says Utah's national committeewoman for the party.
Jenny Wilson, also a Salt Lake County Council member, suggests that rebuilding the party will also take some rebranding. Democrats should focus on what lies ahead: four years of President Donald Trump in office, a tough fight over health care and renewed attention on local races in battleground states.
"It's a recognition that we got off track, and we need to get back on track," Wilson said.
She will take those ideas for reform directly to the Democratic National Committee as a member of the party's new transition team, formed earlier this week by recently elected party Chairman Tom Perez. Wilson will serve with 28 other Democratic strategists and organizers selected to "right the ship" after the party's woes, according to a news release from the committee.
"This is a pretty dramatic change to determine a better mission-driven Democratic National Committee, throwing out the old playbook and building a new one," Wilson said.
One of Wilson's early jobs in politics was as press secretary and later chief of staff to the late Rep. Bill Orton, a conservative Democrat who represented Utah's heavily Republican 3rd Congressional District from 1991-97.
Her vision for restructuring the party stems primarily from her experience in Utah. Wilson's agenda encourages a shift in focus from urban Democratic strongholds, such as Chicago and New York City, to rural areas often overlooked as typically Republican territory including most counties in Utah.
It's a viewpoint Perez also expressed while on a trip to Utah in February.
"We can't cede rural America to the Republicans," he said at the time. "That's what we're all too frequently doing in too many states. That's why we lost Ohio, that's why we lost Wisconsin, that's why we lost Pennsylvania."
Though Trump won in Utah, he captured only 45 percent of the vote, far below previous Republican presidential candidates. Wilson sees that as an indication that not all Utah Republicans were sold on Trump's particular brand of populism.
Wilson would like the party to reach out to all zip codes in an effort to not ignore small towns and cities, particularly as Democrats tout support for the working class. People everywhere, she said, are "looking at the political landscape with concern."
"The people of America," Wilson said, "need to take back the Democratic Party."