Who's buying this?
From Eric's blog:
An Open Letter to the Progressive Community from Local Solutions
[PLEASE NOTE: We wrote this letter some time ago, but we wanted to wait until the final count for every campaign was tallied and certified before sending it out. As you well know, the process took longer than everyone expected, and then with the holidays right around the corner, we elected to send this message out in the New Year. Our intent is to lay to rest questions from the past and offer a place to begin discussion for the future.]
Dear friends, We are aware that there has been much speculation and question regarding the role of Local Solutions in the November elections. We are deeply disappointed with the results and frustrated that we at Local Solutions were unable to do more to help. We believe the Eureka elections could have been won by focusing on grassroots mobilization with a strong emphasis on coordination and cooperation between campaigns in order to make the task manageable and more enjoyable.
We have spent some time considering how to talk about the issues that concern us, and how to engage the broader progressive community in this conversation. We would like to hear your ideas for building local political campaigns with a spirit of cooperation and respect and your suggestions for what role Local Solutions should play in this work.
Local Solutions was formed to provide tools and expertise for grassroots progressive political organizing. We believe that ethics, integrity, and the process of engaging and empowering voters are just as important as a victory on Election Day.
Elections, particularly in Humboldt County, are won by mobilizing hundreds of volunteers talking to thousands of their neighbors. By focusing on voter outreach and involvement (rather than media or fundraising), elections can be a way to develop new leaders and teach citizens how to mobilize each other. At Local Solutions we care most about building a grassroots movement for progressive power. Each political race is important, but we challenge ourselves to keep our eye on the big picture as well.
During the Measure T and Gallegos campaigns, there was some coordination between campaigns, but most of the voter outreach coordination happened late in the process. As we prepared for the November elections, we hoped we could foster better coordination between campaigns from the beginning, ensuring that the campaigns shared resources with each other rather than competing.
We determined our skills and resources would be best used for voter contact and outreach, focusing on ensuring that every supportive voter went to the polls on Election Day. Local Solutions directors, as individuals or as a group, have managed voter contact, volunteer recruitment, and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operations in many successful campaigns, including the attempted recall of the District Attorney, the Humboldt campaign against the Schwarzenegger Special Election propositions in November 2005, Chris Kerrigan’s re-election campaign, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap’s campaign for Water District, Measure T and key components of the Gallegos re-election campaign.
Local Solutions presented a Coordinated Campaign proposal to the endorsed candidates and their campaign teams. It described how the campaigns could work together to maximize voter outreach, build energy and enthusiasm, and minimize the strain on financial and volunteer resources. We offered trainings on campaign management, candidate training, phonebank management, volunteer recruitment and coordination, and campaign finance reporting. We offered this assistance at a cost of $750 to each campaign. This amount represented a portion of the cost we would incur to create an organized system for voter outreach and GOTV that would be coordinated between all campaigns.
The candidates and the campaigns had a lukewarm response to our proposal, and in the end they decided not to work with us to implement a coordinated campaign. We failed to communicate our vision of the campaign process, and we underestimated the trepidation on the part of candidates and campaigns to work together. It was harder than we imagined to abandon the conventional wisdom, that elections are based on a model of scarcity: Someone will win, everyone else will lose. When winning becomes the only goal of a campaign, each decision becomes based on fear—rather than what is most likely to build skills, knowledge, power, and create a supportive community culture for everyone involved. It is our understanding that eventually the campaigns did work together on their phonebank and GOTV efforts, however the system was difficult to implement effectively by the time that decision was made.
The campaigns were also eager to work with Richard Salzman, a campaign advisor who has a very different attitude about elections than we do. Based upon multiple experiences, we know that Richard wants to win at all costs and spend a lot of money doing it. We appreciate Richard’s hard work, but we decided earlier in the summer that we could no longer work with him. This was no doubt awkward for everyone, but after much internal discussion, it was determined that we needed to be clear that we do politics differently.
While we did not participate in the November election nearly as much as we originally planned, we also did not entirely sit it out. We produced and distributed a direct mailer to progressive Eureka voters, and directed volunteers and donations to the campaigns when individuals came to us asking how they could get involved. We invested $4500 in preparation for the 2006 election, but the resources were largely unused by the campaigns.
This election was an important one for Eureka, and the whole county. Compared to the last several election cycles, the results are certainly a setback for progressives. But it is important that we learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. Let’s move forward and continue working to build a more democratic, sustainable, equitable, and just community. We stand as committed as ever to serve that vision and the people who work so hard to bring it forward. We welcome your questions and suggestions for the future.
Dennis Huber, Alice Woodworth, Patrick Riggs, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap and Nicole Spencer
P.S. In July 2006, Local Solutions made a formal policy not to facilitate indirect campaign contributions to campaigns. We adopted this policy in the interest of ensuring full disclosure of campaign contributions to the public. We understand this is different from the function of most Political Action Committees, but we believe it is in keeping with the principles of our organization. All of the funds received by Local Solutions go directly back into grassroots organizing efforts.
Local Solutions related posts and stories:
Salzman's Empire The Local Solutions sham
New group forms
It's in the Headers
Local Solutions' 460 Campaign Statements
Any doubt what Local Solutions' agenda is?
What happened to Local Solutions?
Where is "Local Solutions"?
TS - Local Solutions by Michael Twombly
ER - Another local group decries toxins and big boxes