Electoral Organizing Pays Off in the Bay

5008828676_9f755bb418_thumb_medium200_134At a time when it feels like the whole country is out to Tea, our communities are building a progressive stronghold.

At Causa Justa :: Just Cause we know that decisions made in the electoral arena impact our communities. With the former mayor of Oakland set to be state governor, and the former mayor of San Francisco poised as the incoming lieutenant governor, now more than ever we see the importance of our local campaign work here in the Bay.

Our work on the regional front is helping to shape the political environment of the whole state, and can in turn set an example on a national scale. This is why we have committed to building our local civic engagement work and why this year alone Causa Justa:

•    Undertook major census outreach operations in both San Francisco and Oakland

•    Conducted voter outreach for ballot issues in the San Francisco June primary

•    Educated Oakland voters about Ranked-Choice Voting (work we did in partnership with Oakland Rising)

•    Ran voter education operations in both Oakland and San Francisco for the November elections

   

Bucking the national trend, we won progressive taxation in San Francisco.

In San Francisco, as part the new coalition San Francisco Rising, we challenged the city to raise money for services by taxing the sale of properties valued over $5 million. As the conservative mongering over tax cuts, austerity measures and privatization seemed to dominate the debate in most places, we put the question to the voters and conducted major phone and walk outreach operations with the simple message that we can solve budget crises by taxing those who can afford to be taxed. Instead of allowing economic hardship and unemployment to pit low-income communities against each other, we united to demand taxation to benefit all of us, and lift up our city. And on Measure N, we won big. 65% percent of voters supported the measure and we are looking forward to the $26 million that will be raised annually for services our neighborhoods need.

   

In an era of voter disengagement, we empowered thousands of Oakland voters to vote their conscience.

We knocked on thousands of doors in August to make sure that the new Ranked Choice Voting system was fully understood and implemented by residents of Oakland.  RCV allows people to vote for the candidate they actually want first, and then list second and third choices that can count if their preferred candidate does not win. Oakland voters made their voices heard through this new and effective system of voting. Analysis conducted by elections experts show that 98% of local ballots were completed correctly. As a result, the highly favored and hugely funded candidate lost out to a more progressive candidate, Jean Quan, who will now be the first female and first Asian-American mayor of Oakland.

   

Bay Area Rises to the Challenge

Instead of tax cuts for the rich, we need progressive taxation to resolve budget deficits. Instead of allowing corporations to buy elections and stifle public discourse, we need the kind of electoral reform that allows our communities to vote their conscience. While community organizing and leadership development will always be our core work, we are heartened and excited by our victories in civic engagement this year. We look forward to working with our members, allies, and supporters in the coming years to be part of a resurgence of progressive civic engagement, solid electoral organizing that can beat back the Tea Party’s racist rampage, and open up a visionary new way forward for working-class communities of color and all progressive peoples in this country.


To learn about San Francisco Rising, visit www.sfrising.org

To learn about Oakland Rising, visit www.oaklandrising.org