Thursday, May 19, 2005

Making Headway

A lot of the time progressives wonder if we can genuinely make a difference in our communities. In this day and age of Bush and compassionate conservativism, this anxiety shows up most often in the electoral arena. We often wonder if its really possible to get bona fide progressive candidate elected to office.

If you've ever wondered this, the recent school board elections should provide you with a strong measure of hope. The five candidates endorsed by the Stand for Children Action Fund -- 3 in Portland and 2 in Salem -- each won their race. Please note that I'm not saying that 5 out of x number of the Fund's endorsements won -- EVERY candidate endorsed won!

In the southern Oregon town of Ashland, all 3 school board candidates endorsed by the Jackson County Pacific Green Party won too. Not only did they win -- two against incumbents -- but they all won with more than 60% of the vote! In Corvallis, another Green Party-endorsed candidate, Matt Donohue, beat the incumbent as well.

This clearly proves that we CAN win! But there are some secrets to this winning formula. First, candidates need to declare early. Second, candidates need to hammer on progressive themes. Third, candidates need to gather the endorsements of progressive groups AND those groups must provide the "foot soldiers" to get the word out far and wide.

The Salem City elections are less than 1 year away. The above results should galvanize our resolve to wrest control of our fine city away from Janet Taylor and the development interests that have choked off public participation. We can succeed in this endeavor IF we start to lay the groundwork now.

In other words, we need to roll up our collective sleeves and get to work.

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