Tuesday, September 17, 2019

An Election "Win"

This week brings the global Climate Strike and other actions that call attention to our planet's--and thus our--dire situation. (Links to climate activities below the featured articles.) In honor of our planet, we take a closer look at an environmental activist who felt called to run for local office and what she's learned so far in her journey.

In the photo above, it's election night for the Toledo city council primary run-offs. The faithful supporters and campaign staff of a first-time, grassroots candidate gather to celebrate all the hard work and effort they put in--knowing full well the odds are against them. Vastly outspent by the establishment challengers, the results aren't all that bad.  Issues (such as protecting drinking water and investing in green jobs locally) raised by the candidate in the primary public forums are even now being echoed by voters and other city council candidates alike. Perhaps there's more to winning an election than simply gaining the most votes?

Here are two takes of what happened during this election cycle and the lessons gained. These insights should prove useful to any candidate, in any campaign, anywhere who is planning to run for office.

A Successful Campaign
by Stefania Czech

I have realized as a single mom that it is extremely difficult to run a campaign. There were a lot of days that I just could not campaign because I had no sitter. Networking is huge and so is having a large campaign team and the money to pay people. I knew that the challenges would be extremely difficult, but I also felt my message was too important to stay quiet, and the future of our children is what drove me onward in spite of the challenge.

It was quite the experience that I am so grateful for. I met so many amazing people and my Czech Mates are freaking awesome. I'm proud of the campaign I ran, and I am inspired by the light that came back in people's eyes when I shared my message. I had a very unique message that I don't believe people have heard very often on the local level or in politics, period. 

And sometimes you just have to have that first run to know what to do and what not to do. Name recognition is big and running as a candidate as an introvert is quite challenging. I was proud that I came out of my comfort zone and pushed past so many barriers. I have grown so much in these last months. I'm excited for my future whether it's in politics or not. In the end I have raised awareness that Lake Erie now has rights and should be defended, and a Green New Deal is possible and needed in Toledo.

There are some who say I ran an "unsuccessful" campaign because I did not win. I don't believe that is true. I believe I ran a very successful campaign, one that gave me much pride.

If I have restored one person's belief in democracy, then I have been successful. 

If I have given one person the courage to run on a progressive platform, then I have been successful.

If I have given someone the inspiration to run on a platform other than (fixing) potholes, then I have been successful.

If I have given someone the inspiration to run, then I have been successful. 

If I have restored faith that we can fight the climate and take on huge global issues in our Toledo home, then I have been successful. 

If I have given people ideas, hope, and inspiration that Toledo can have a Green New Deal, then I had been successful.

If I have kept the Lake Erie Bill of Rights in the media longer and I showed people how to defend the rights of nature, then I have been successful.

If I have given children hope that there are adults out here fighting for their future, then I have been successful. 

If I have shown other people how to fight for our democracy and campaigning on something radically different can be done then I have been successful. 

If I had given people hope and inspiration then we can have change and effect change locally, then I have been successful.

The Czech Mates and myself have ran a very successful campaign. We got just as many votes as independent and non-endorsed Democrats, and I would say that's not too bad! I had people saying they would vote just for me and that's pretty exciting. People believed in this message. People believe in change--and that's success!
BIO: Stefania ran a people-powered (and funded)  grassroots campaign for Toledo city council district 2. Her campaign website: http://www.czechfortoledo.com

Building New Leaders
 by Sean Nestor

When it comes to Toledo City Council elections I have known amazing people with a real dedication to public service who have lost and quite a few scoundrels and sycophants who have won. No doubt, dear reader, you have done the same. So, what is it that wins these elections if not character and integrity?

One popular explanation is that Toledo is a party town, owned and run by a finely honed Democratic Party machine. But I can think of so many examples where the endorsed Democrat lost to someone else that I believe this is mostly a myth that Democrats tell themselves to feel good and everyone else tells themselves to rationalize their lack of success. I've also had enough conversations with people involved to laugh at the notion of the Lucas County Democratic Party being a finely honed anything.

Popular theories that I think are closer to the truth are that Toledoans are happy with the status quo and vote the same people back into office over and over and that Toledoans are ill-informed and just vote for whatever name they recognize even if it's a tainted name. I say "closer" because I don't think most Toledoans are happy with the status quo, and I don't think Toledoans are ill-informed through any fault of their own.

Here's what I think:

1) Toledoans want change,but don't find challengers to the incumbents credible. Practically everyone who runs against an incumbent is unheard of in the broader community, leading most voters to a "devil you know vs. devil you don't" mentality.

2) Toledoans want to be better informed, but the (shrinking) media landscape--particularly the TV news-- barely covers the races or provides substantive information about the candidates.

3) There are practically no civic institutions that are building new leaders, and thus we have a lack of people with knowledge, connections, and a reputation that can be leveraged into a successful candidacy.

4) There are practically no political organizations that are providing candidates with guidance, support, and resources so that when they run they can be effective in their fundraising, outreach, and messaging.

5) Toledoans want to vote for someone who does visible and effective work in the community before running; too many candidates run with the implicit message of "Elect me first, then I promise I'll do some good stuff!"

6) Toledo City Council is an unattractive job because it's a largely powerless body that doesn't do a lot and most of your coworkers have big but weak egos; it does not always attract the best and brightest.

I don't think these obstacles are insurmountable, but I do think that they are extremely challenging and will take a lot more people in our community stepping up.

1) Candidates need to be out in the community more outside of election cycles, working hard and tooting their own horn.

2) Political parties, labor unions, and social justice organizations need to do better at bringing up new leadership and taking on big fights that give future candidates a chance to see how power works and how to be effective at creating change.

3) Civic-minded people with experience in elections and pissed-off voters need to come together and form more organizations that prospect, recruit, train, and support candidates for office.

4) The local media outlets need to make a concerted effort to advertise local elections more and give more airtime to local candidates.

5) Elected officials should consider reforms to our current strong mayor system that make the role of city council more powerful and more attractive to professionals in our community.
Good people can and do win local elections here, if you pay attention. They are in the minority, but they exist. There's no reason that success can't be replicated, regardless of your party affiliation (or lack thereof). But it does take a lot of work, a lot of courage, a lot of time, and a lot of money. 

And if you really care about this city, you'll step up to do it--because you'll know in your heart that we deserve better than what we're getting.

BIO: Sean Nestor is an organizer with Toledoans For Safe Water and a former Lucas County Green Party Co-Chair.
From March For Science:

Over the last year, young people have been leaving their classrooms every Friday to go on strike. The idea of climate striking began with Greta Thunberg in Sweden a year ago and has quickly spread across the world — in March, 1.4 million children stayed away from school for a day to ask for climate action.

As scientists, our research shows that climate change has serious implications for our health, environment, and economy. The scientific community has done its best to outline the growing climate crisis and to show ways that society can move to meet the challenge. But beyond our work in the natural and social sciences, we ourselves must also participate in mass societal action. 

We’re grateful for the leadership of young people, but the burden of creating the transformative change needed to address the climate crisis should not rest solely on the shoulders of our youth.

On September 20, we urge the scientific community to stop work for a day, leave your labs, classrooms, and fieldwork sites, and join the first all-ages Global Climate Strike

Those of us who teach may cancel our classes — or move them outside and turn them into teach-ins for the whole community. Those of us engaged in research will leave the lab bench or the computer screen for an afternoon and join other citizens in calling attention to the emergency. 

The strike will take place just three days before world leaders meet at a major summit at the United Nations — this is a key moment for all of us to put the climate crisis in the global spotlight.

To participate:
1. Sign the scientists' letter of support for the Global Climate Strike
2. Read our organizing guide, and find a local strike to join on September 20
For our future,
The March for Science Team

Hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas just recently. At least 50 people are dead. More than 2,500 are missing. Families who watched their homes be destroyed by the storm in front of their eyes are now crowding into shelters without adequate food and water.

And if Big Oil gets its way, disasters like Hurricane Dorian will become more and more frequent.

It’s time to fight back and demand strong action to rein in Big Oil and prevent the climate crisis from getting even worse. Next Friday, September 20th, young people around the globe will walk out of their classes, their jobs, and their everyday lives for the Global Climate Strike. The next generation is taking a strong stand for their right to a livable planet -- but they need you to stand in solidarity at an action near you.

There are fewer than 11 years to prevent climate chaos. The only way that will happen is if our leaders immediately take ambitious climate action.

It’s not enough to simply stop a pipeline here and there. Our elected officials need to support a phase-out of all fossil fuels.

It’s not enough to address the fossil fuel industry alone. Our elected officials need to address the role of agriculture in fueling the climate crisis.

At the same time, we need our climate solutions to center the communities most impacted by this crisis. And we need a just transition for workers and others who have been caught in an extractive economy for far too long.

Young people like Greta Thunberg, an international youth climate leader, recognize that if our elected officials don’t act now, they’ll be the ones cleaning up after the impending climate disaster. The next generation needs you to stand in solidarity with them on September 20th. 

Youth strike organizers across the world have a plan to fight the climate crisis. A plan that, here in the U.S., includes support for a strong Green New Deal, regenerative agriculture, and the restoration of biodiversity while prioritizing Indigenous rights and environmental justice.

The only pathway forward is to stand up to the fossil fuel industry, Big Ag, and multinational corporations. But our elected officials won’t take ambitious action like this unless they really feel the pressure from their constituents like you.

You can help make sure the strike has maximum impact. Will you step up to the challenge and stand with young people worldwide for a future free of climate disaster?

Standing with you,
Liz Butler,
VP of organizing and strategic alliances,
Friends of the Earth

Tell Congress:
"The Assault Weapons Ban expired 15 years ago. Since then, gun violence has become an epidemic.We can't wait any longer. BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS NOW"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. Just one rule: Be polite. This means no profanity or cursing. No shaming or hate speech. No threats or silliness. This is a family friendly blog. Thank you.