By Ted Lam
The California Congressional District 21 (CD-21) Action Coalition held its first meeting on January 13 at the Pinole Public Library. With over 50 attendees and a full slate of speakers, the energy in the room was amazing. Kook Huber of Organizing for Action (OFA) Contra Costa stated the Coalition’s goal: to flip the House – change the Republican majority to a Democratic majority – and said that it would achieve that goal by focusing on certain California Congressional Districts.
Fran Schreiber and Laura Cho represented Working America, a nationwide membership organization (with 3 million members!) that focuses on pro-labor advocacy and on political work with local groups. Working America’s election work includes canvassing year-round on jobs, the economy, health care, and local issues (not guns or abortion), in addition to gathering information about people’s own priorities. Canvassers also solicit membership, which is very successful. Working America collects information about candidates on critical issues and reconnects with the people they have already canvassed to share the information. In June 2017 Working America opened up an office in Modesto with nine paid staff. They’ve knocked on 45,000 doors and had 27,000 conversations. All of their paid canvassers are bilingual. In August they opened a CD-21 office. So far, the CD-21 recruitment rate has been almost 90%, which they believe is because Working America asks what issues people care about – something people in these small towns have not been asked.
Sue Hamill, Bay Area Chair (Region 4) of the CA Democratic Party, Rural Caucus, opened by saying “It’s 2018! The House is within reach. But we can’t take anything for granted. The ground game will be critical.” She enumerated several key California districts including CD-1 (Doug LaMalfa), CD-10 (Jeff Denham, widely considered a target), CD-4 (Tom McClintock; she recommended Sierra Forward as a well-organized progressive group in a purple district with a lot of Bay Area transplants). For more information about the California Democratic Party, contact Clark Lee. The proposed CA Democratic platform is open for comments until January 24.
Kook wrapped up by inviting more partners to join the CD-21 Action Coalition so it can efficiently send resources – including but not limited to canvassing – to CD-21. We hope Kook will be the guest speaker to talk about the CD-21 Action Coalition at February’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting.
For more information or to participate in the Coalition with the CA-11 Team (everyone is welcome), please message @Ted L on Slack, or email him.
Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer.