California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton confirmed Saturday he will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2017, and the party’s executive director, Shawnda Westly, has stepped down in anticipation of his departure.
Westly said in an email to party leaders Friday that she will stay on as a paid senior strategist and that her role, if not her title, “stays the same.”
Burton, 82, was not expected to seek another term after next year’s presidential election, but Westly’s move came well before the end of Burton’s term. Chris Myers, the party’s managing director, replaces her as executive director.
Westly said the changes are designed to provide “for a smooth transition … which prioritizes institutional knowledge and allows for ‘time on the job’ prior to the new Chair assuming office.”
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She said Angie Tate, the party’s chief financial officer, also plans to leave the party when Burton’s term expires.
“This is the right time to cement Chris's essential role in the ongoing success of the state party, as Angie and I plan to leave when John’s term as chair ends in 2017,” Westly wrote. “We are building the bridge for a successful 2018, now.”
The move could give Myers a leg up when the party’s next chair takes office. Burton, a former state Senate leader, said Myers is “just terrific, and would just help provide some continuity” to his successor. However, he said, “conceivably, they would want to have their own executive director.”
Burton, the younger brother of the late Philip Burton, a powerful California congressman, served 26 years in the Legislature and eight in Congress.
Of his plan to not seek re-election, Burton said, “It’s time. You know, I mean, I had fun, I’m having fun. We did – and I emphasize we more than me – we did great work.”
He added, “All good things, you know, come to an end.”