Steve Early, Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and The Remaking of An American City; Jonathan Martin, Empowering Progressive Third Parties in the United States; and Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution.
Thousands of progressive activists are running for state and local office, inspired by the Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein presidential campaigns and the example of Seattle City Councilor Kshama Sawant. These efforts, inside or outside the Democratic Party, are supported by local electoral formations like the Richmond Progressive Alliance in California, state-level third parties like the Vermont Progressive Party, national networks like the Working Families Party, National People’s Action, or Our Revolution, left parties, and the Greens. In Richmond, CA, for example, labor and community activists—assisted, in recent years, by Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution—have won 10 out of 16 races for mayor or city council since 2004. Richmond’s multi-racial, multi-issue, working class oriented coalition now has five members on the city council; for eight years, Richmond was the largest city in the country with a Green mayor. This panel/workshop will discuss successful strategies for winning elected office at the state or local level and building stronger, labor-backed political organization. It will also assess the progress that has been made, by left-wing public officials, in fighting for immigrant rights, police accountability, environmental protection, affordable housing, minimum wage improvements, public financing of elections, and other progressive reforms.