Come Monday, December 14, local veteran Brock Neeley will be sitting in the State Capitol Building in Sacramento waiting to be sworn into the Electoral College, where he will cast his ballot for President Elect Joe Biden.
After a childhood filled with political influence and time served in the U.S. Navy, Neeley now gives back to his community through the Tulare County Stonewall Democrats, a club that has been serving the local LGBT community since 2015.
Neeley spent his childhood between Tulare and Porterville, eventually moving into Porterville in the early 2000’s. In 1977, Neeley enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served in the Navy for six years.
“I was born in Lindsay, raised in Tulare, and moved to Porterville in 2004,” said Neeley. “I spent a lot of time in my youth in Porterville because my mom played semi-pro softball and a lotof the league was here in Porterville. My dad built engines for a race car for Rocky Hill, so we alsospent a lot of time there. A lot of my husband’s friends I knew before we even knew each other.
“I served two years on the USS Blue Ridge in Japan, which was the Seventh Fleet flagship. I ended up being the Seventh Fleet Admiral's personal photographer. In ‘79, when the Prime Minister of Japan died, I had to escort the President and the Admiral to the funeral, and take pictures, and I had tea in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo with Hirohito.”
In 2015, Neeley really dug into his advocacy for the gay community when he and his partner began a local Democratic Stonewall club.
“In 2014, the state party contacted John (Neeley’s husband) and I and wanted us to start a Stonewall Club here in Tulare County,” said Neeley. “We were right in the middle of working on a campaign so we had to put it off. In 2015, we actually started it and we have been going strong ever since.
“Primarily what we are doing currently is having a lot of Zoom meetings. Every year around this time we collect money and give it to Toys for Tots. We do a lot of letter writing to various dignitaries on support or opposition of political ideals. The last one we wrote was to the head of the UN when Trump instituted the ban on foreign dignitaries being able to have their same sex partners come to the United States unless they were married.”
Now, his advocacy for the LGBT community and his political awareness is taking him to the state capitol, where he will cast his vote for President Elect Joe Biden on December 14 as part of the Electoral College. Neeley was appointed to the Electoral College after working with Democratic candidate Kim Mangone who ran against Kevin McCarthy.
“Almost two years ago, we went down to the California Democratic Party Region 9 regional meeting in Palmdale, which is where our regional director is,” said Neeley. “We met this interesting person that said they were running against Kevin McCarthy. It was Kim Mangone. Within 15 minutes, because I had my laptop, I had her information up on our Stonewall webpage. We have been working with her and advocating with her to try to get McCarthy unseated ever since. She is entitled, as a Democratic candidate, to appoint a delegate on the Electoral College, so because of our involvement in her campaign, Mangone appointed me as her Elector.”
Neeley explained a little bit about how the Electoral College works.
“Technically on November 3, the Electorate voted for a slate of Electors,” said Neeley. “They don’t technically vote for the President. That responsibility lies on the Electors, which each Congressional District gets one, and each Senate District, which we have two in the state, gets one. We have 55 (Electors) in the state of California.
“Incidentally, the only two that are members of the LGBT state party caucus that will be Electors is myselfand Ms. Conant from Fresno Stonewall. Two of the reddest areas in the state have LGBT Electors which is kind’ve cool. It means we have a seat at the table and we are not forgotten. That is the main reason we formed the Stonewall Club here, to advocate for the gay community so that people know we’re here.”
Before going to the Capitol however, Neeley has already sworn his vote will go to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and has already signed official documentation saying so.
“A month and a half ago I had to sign an Affidavit of Support, meaning that I was appointed as a Democratic delegate to the Electoral College and that I will vote as a Democrat,” said Neeley. “If I cannot do that, then I must resign. I am sworn to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”
But there are no doubts for Neeley, who supported Biden even before his Presidential candidacy was announced. To seal the deal, Neeley will have to sign 21 documents, before they're taken by special courier straight to the White House.
“On December 14 in the California Assembly Chamber, at 2 o’clock we will be meeting and we actually have to sign seven original ballots for the President, seven original ballots for the Vice President, and seven facsimile documents of each,” said Neeley. “Then those, by special courier, have to be in Washington D.C. at the White House’s archivist office by midnight. They are the ballots that actually confirm the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice President.”
Neeley is excited to get to the State Capitol, and said it feels like it was his destiny. He's making history for Porterville as being the first resident in the city to sit on the Electoral College and represent his district. On top of that, the ballot cast by Neeley will be a matter of public record for all time.
“It means a lot,” said Neeley. “There are a lot more Democrats in this county than people realize. It’s turning bluer and bluer by the minute.
“It is an extreme honor to carry the ballot for the 23rd District and I’d like to think my momand dad are looking down. I was destined.”