IEB Members Gear up to Engage in the Democratic Primary

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By Nancy Latham

It’s a ways yet before the Democratic presidential primaries start, but the candidates — and possible candidates — are talking about serious ideas. Whatever you may think of the various individuals, it’s exciting to see their bold proposals, like Medicare for All (Bernie Sanders), a wealth tax and universal childcare (Elizabeth Warren), baby bonds to close the wealth gap (Cory Booker), and spending $315 billion over the next 10 years to dramatically increase teacher salaries (Kamala Harris).

The way we see it, candidates are responding to an activist base that’s pushing for policies that truly measure up to the nation’s challenges. And Indivisible East Bay and other Indivisible groups across the country are part of that activist base. For two years we’ve been building our people power; now, as the primaries get closer, we’re determined to use that power to influence the policy debate.

Indivisible National is developing its strategy for engaging in the primary, and as step one they sent a survey to Indivisible groups nationwide on a variety of topics concerning policy issues and campaigns. We want National to know what our members think, which means we want to hear from you!

To gather input from IEB members, we began by focusing on three key questions from the survey at our March All Members Meeting:

  1. What issues are most important to us as we consider whom to support in the primary?
  2. In what ways does our group want to engage campaigns during the primary?
  3. What are our initial thoughts about the possibility that Indivisible National might endorse a candidate?

To tackle these questions, Governance Committee members facilitated small group discussions of 5-6 people each. The questions sparked lively conversation that lasted over an hour (and involved the liberal use of sticky notes and dot-voting). Here are the results of the three discussions:

QUESTION 1: What issues are most important to us as we consider whom to support in the primary?

Issues on the Indivisible National List (ordered by how the groups prioritized them):

Highest Priority:

  • Environment
  • Democracy (voting rights, election security, campaign finance reform, ethics in government)
  • Healthcare
  • Judicial nominations

Important:

  • Civil Rights (racial justice, LGBTQ rights, gender equity, criminal justice)
  • Gun violence prevention
  • Immigration
  • Abortion Access
  • Financial regulation
  • Tax policy
  • College affordability
  • Foreign policy and national security

Back Burner:

  • Transportation and infrastructure

Additional Issues Suggested in Small Groups:

  • Constitutional process and reform
  • Green New Deal, including transportation, infrastructure, environmental issues
  • Climate change
  • More resources for people being detained at our borders: better beds, meals, shelter
  • Post-secondary school and job opportunity support for all (not just four-year college)
  • Wealth disparity
  • Housing
  • Online/data privacy

QUESTION 2: In what ways does our group want to engage campaigns during the primary?

Engagement Options from Indivisible National (ordered by number of votes across the three small groups):

  • Ensuring the grassroots are invited to debates (11)
  • Issue forums and large grassroots mobilizations (9)
  • Channels of communication from national and local Indivisibles to candidates (8)
  • Organizing for key statewide Democratic conventions (5)
  • Candidates joining indivisible national activist calls (4) (All three groups pointed out that this is a specific example of “channels of communication”)
  • Training programs for the primary process (3)
  • Organizing Indivisible planning spaces or events to power map our opportunities (2)
  • Bird-dogging (2)

Additional Ideas for Engagement Suggested in Small Groups:

  • Candidate questionnaires
  • White papers developed by local groups
  • IEB media contact
  • IEB partners with campaigns

QUESTION 3: What are our initial thoughts about the possibility that Indivisible National might endorse a candidate?

To address this topic, we asked people to vote on two simple poll questions.

Poll Question 1: How should Indivisible National approach the question of endorsements in the presidential primary? (Ordered by number of votes)

  • Wait a few months to collect more data and see how things unfold before making any plans (12)
  • Take endorsements completely off the table (2)
  • Start work now on a thoughtful and careful process intended to end in an endorsement, but only if sufficient unity is found (1)

Poll Question 2: It’s still early. But at this stage, what do you think is the best path forward for endorsement?

1 = I think Indivisible National should definitely NOT endorse (2)

2 = I’m leaning against endorsement (9)

3 = I can’t decide whether they should endorse or not (2)

4 = I’m leaning toward endorsement (1)

5 = I think Indivisible National should definitely endorse (1)

Average Rating = 2.3 (which roughly equates to “leaning against”)

We want to hear from you, too! If you couldn’t make it to the All Member Meeting, it’s not too late to share your input! Here’s a link to a survey with the questions that we addressed at the March meeting. All responses submitted by the deadline of April 10 will be aggregated (along with the results of the AMM discussions) and shared as part of IEB’s survey response to Indivisible National.

And this is not the last chance we’ll have to consider how we flex our activist muscle to push for progressive policy! It’s still 19 months until the election. Stay tuned for more lively debate, and even livelier action.

 

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.

Barbara Lee & the Democratic Caucus Chair

For 20 years, Barbara Lee has served the East Bay in Congress as a strong voice for principles IEB holds dear. We were proud to strongly support her for Democratic Caucus Chair of the incoming Blue House of Representatives. Now, we congratulate Representative Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, who won this position in an election in the House on November 28. We think he is very well-qualified, but we do worry about the role that ageism and sexism plays in situations like these (a concern Rep. Lee has shared) and we ask Rep. Jeffries to use all the power of his new office to fight such threats to equality and equity. We are confident that Rep. Jeffries is a powerful supporter of progressive policies. And while Rep. Lee’s long history of bravery, experience and wisdom made her a truly exceptional candidate, we hope and expect that Rep. Jeffries will take his ascension to leadership as an opportunity to show a courage and vision to rival hers.

Barbara Lee still speaks for us.

For more background, check out Politico’s How Barbara Lee Became An Army of One.

Here is IEB’s Statement of Support, endorsing Rep. Lee, that we posted prior to the election:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://indivisibleeb.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Barbara-Lee-IEB-Statement-of-Support.pdf” title=”Barbara Lee – IEB Statement of Support”]

 

 

Vote Becton for Contra Costa District Attorney June 5

Last September, Contra Costa County’s Board of Supervisors appointed retired Superior Court Judge Diana Becton as interim district attorney. The position became open after a scandal forced the resignation of then DA Mark Petersen. The state charged Peterson “with 13 felonies connected to his admitted use of his campaign fund as if it were a personal bank account.”

Did you hear about her appointment at the time? With the perpetual Trump tornado in Washington, many important stories wind up getting overlooked. Catch up on the history at our prior articles. And make no mistake: this was an important story then and has grown to even greater significance now.

As interim DA, Becton became the first woman and first African-American to hold this position in the 168-year history of Contra Costa County. She now seeks to remove the “interim” from her title as she competes in the June 5th election for District Attorney.

Following a poll where Judge Becton received unanimous support, Indivisible East Bay’s CA-11 Team endorsed Becton for the District Attorney position, and the IEB Governance Committee subsequently voted to endorse her. We strongly urge all Contra Costa County IEB members to vote for Judge Becton. “Lower down on the ballot” offices are too often overlooked by voters, due to a lack of name recognition, uncertainty as to the positions of the candidates, or a mistaken belief that these offices don’t matter. Don’t let this happen here! Judge Becton is precisely the sort of progressive candidate that IEB is proud to support. Adding to the importance of voting for Becton in June: If the winner in this three-person race gets a majority, it’s over; there will be no run-off in November.

Prior to her current position as DA, Becton was a Judge in Contra Costa for over two decades and was elected by her colleagues as the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court for the First District Court of Appeals. Calling her a “great DA,” the Richmond Progressive Alliance recently wrote: “Becton received highest marks on a [Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition] community scorecard that ranked candidates on a range of issues, from bail reform to support for re-entry services.”

The District Attorney position critically affects the lives of many county residents. The DA has the power to decide whether criminal charges are brought against an individual, the severity of the charges, whether the person is diverted to a system such as mental health, and the priority of cases. Becton has worked especially hard to improve diversion programs for low level crimes and for people with mental illness who need treatment, not punishment.

With her predecessor criminally charged and her main opponent involved in questionable campaign activity regarding a donation from Sheriff David Livingston, we need a District Attorney with the record and integrity to bring transparency and accountability to the office. Judge Diana Becton is that person.

The IEB CA-11 team is putting our energy where our endorsement is, and volunteering to help elect Judge Becton — can you join us?

  • Saturday, May 5,  9 am to 1 pm: table for Judge Becton with the CA-11 Team and others at the El Cerrito Farmers Market  
  • Monday, May 7, 4 to 6 pm: help pass out flyers at El Cerrito Plaza BART station

And to learn more about the candidates:

  • April 28, 2 PM: meet Judge Becton, the featured speaker at the Courageous Resistance / Indivisible El Sobrante / Richmond meeting. RSVP & all info here.
  • April 30, 6:30-8 PM: Contra Costa County District Attorney Candidate Forum. Hercules Library. Host: League of Women Voters.

Please email IndivisibleCA11@gmail.com if you have questions or want to help.

IEB endorses Reps Lee, Swalwell, DeSaulnier

Thanks to all Indivisible East Bay members who voted on our very first endorsement decision! We are delighted to report that IEB is endorsing Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Eric Swalwell (CA-15) for U.S. Congress. Each candidate received 97 percent of the votes from IEB members in their district. We’re proud to register such strong approval of the work these skilled, dedicated, and responsive leaders do on our behalf, and we look forward to continuing to hold them accountable as we fight together to protect our liberal democracy and advance our progressive values.

We have also nominated these three members of Congress for a national Indivisible endorsement. If you’re not already on the national Indivisible mailing list and want to have a say, fill out this form by 8:59 PM (PT) on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.

We learned much during this process and received a lot of good feedback from members who commented both for and against endorsing. We’ll post a report soon with more on that and on the next steps as we form our candidate evaluation team.