20th Century Pre-History:
Fallbrook Democrats are first mentioned as an organized group on November 3, 1933. Throughout the 1930s, Fallbrook and Vista were part of the North County Democratic Club. Meetings were alternatively hosted in Vista and Fallbrook.
Beginning in 1940, there is a dedicated Fallbrook Democratic Club operating in Fallbrook. This club continued for decades, with some periods of dormancy. We know about this early history from occasional news items and meeting announcements in the old Fallbrook Enterprise newspaper available at the Fallbrook Historical Society.
In 1940, the Fallbrook Democratic Club variously met at the Fallbrook High School auditorium or the Maie Ellis Elementary School, and for several years their meeting place was at the Oceanside Federal Savings & Loan on S. Main Ave in Fallbrook. At times in the 1950s and 1960s the Club had an office in the 100 block of S. Main Ave. about where the Yogurt Palace is located.
This older club was prior to the modern San Diego County Democratic Party chartering process. We do not know what rules, policies, and bylaws this early Club operated under. Other than sporadic newspaper mentions in the Fallbrook Enterprise of events and Club officers, we do not have any records or minutes giving details of the Fallbrook Democratic Club throughout the 20th century.
Modern Fallbrook Democratic Club (FDC) History since 2004
The modern Fallbrook Democratic Club (FDC) was founded in 2004 by Tracy Ragsdale. Appalled by the military buildup and the invasion of Iraq; anti-war sentiment motivated Tracy and a group of her friends to encourage like-minded people to form a political organization. The Club charter was granted by the San Diego County Democratic Party during the summer of 2004; bylaws were issued and officers elected.
Tracy announced the Club’s formation at the 2004 annual luncheon held by the Association of Democratic and Independent Women, a group founded by Dolores Feicht, Virginia Stephens, Tricia Thompson, Susan Jenkins (and others). These women had previously formed this local organization in order to foster discussion of politics and current events and to find camaraderie with like-minded progressives. Several of these women became founding members of the Fallbrook Democratic Club. The Association members who attended the annual luncheon that day generously contributed funds for opening a Democratic headquarters in Fallbrook for the 2004 Presidential election year. The small office was staffed by volunteers for a few hours a day. The Club was prepared to work hard for John Kerry who was running to deny President George W. Bush a second term.
On July 30, 2004, there were 21 members attending the first organizing meeting of the Fallbrook Democratic Club.
Tracy Ragsdale was elected President, Len Berkstresser as Treasurer. North County Unity, a collective organization of North County Democratic Clubs held the funds and filed the necessary reports.
The club had a office grand opening at 431 S. Main Ave in Fallbrook on August 14, 2004. Initially, Democratic Club membership meetings were held in members’ homes. The office was not large enough to comfortably seat the whole group and eventually closed. Although the Republican win in 2004 was a huge disappointment, the Club members resolved to keep the club alive.
The Club continued and was named the 2019 Club of the Year by the San Diego County Democratic Party due to the rise in membership, effective campaigning, and impressive gains in local elections.