Election day across Gamaliel - reflections and impressions

Posted by: Gordon on 11/5/2014

Genesis Rally last Saturday
In Oakland, young people joined the mayor and faith leaders to rally for a youth bus pass measure that won Tuesday

Today we found hope in reflections on yesterday's election from across our network. Here are a few of the best:

Measure BB passes after four years

A coalition of youth, families and their supporters organized to educate their community on the need for free bus passes for youth in Alameda County because the county school system does not provide transportation to school. Genesis, an Oakland-based affiliate of Gamaliel, helped train and support the group.

California requires a two-thirds yes vote for measures such as the bus pass initiative. In 2012, the youth group came within 721 votes of winning, out of 350,000 votes cast. Yesterday voters approved the passes with more than 69% of the vote and won--a victory that represent four years of hard work. Fifteen-year–old Octavia Moore, one of those Genesis helped train, had this reflection:

I go to the school of my choice, but I know teens in my community who couldn’t go to the school of their choice because the transit was a big chunk of their families’ income.

I feel that everybody should go to the school of their choice. I told my story to the Sierra Club of Alameda County. One of the leaders said to me, ‘I was going to vote no, but because of what you said tonight—I am voting yes.’ We won the endorsement of the Sierra Club AND last night, Measure BB passed!!  I think that giving youth opportunities is one of the most important issues in our community, because when youth thrive we all thrive.

With the Nuns on the Bus
Barb Pfarr, Stephanie Gyldenvand and the Bus
Election night, Sister Barb Pfarr of WISDOM reflected on her experience with the “Nuns on the Bus” for their last few days’ ride through Wisconsin as they finished months-long tour encouraging people to vote:

At every stop we were met by cheering crowds of faithful folks who have been doing the hard work of political engagement.  We would speak a bit to encourage and thank them. We invited people sign post cards that Network will deliver to our legislators in DC in January, reminding them that people back home are expecting them to make a difference for the poor and disenfranchised and we're paying attention to their progress.

We gave out buttons and invited them to sign the bus. Sometimes we would do a town hall event to give people a chance to talk about their concerns and dreams for our country.  Sometimes we would make phone calls to remind people to vote.

What is the hunger that brings hundreds of people out to see a handful of old nuns and a colorful bus?  I don't know but I'm enormously grateful to have been part of it and my heart is warmed, filled, inspired.

Stars in Pontiac

Kandia Milton of MOSES was getting youth involved in the election process yesterday:

We had four young teens walk in to Prospect Missionary Baptist in Pontiac to canvass yesterday who had never been involved in politics before.  They came in very apprehensive and shy as if they were going through the motions and simply there because their mom made them come.  MOSES Organizer Johnnie Turnage and I took them through a quick training that they seemed to resist.

We gave them a smaller turf to canvass to get them started, and to our surprise they finished it within 2 hours and returned to Prospect MB Church with a great deal of energy.  They talked about the number of conversations they had with folks in the community with a great deal of enthusiasm and taking pride in their work.  They spoke of a system of canvassing that led to them working together in an efficient way.

We gave them three contiguous turfs and they proceeded to devour them and returned with even more stories. They were the stars in Pontiac yesterday.

Keep pushing

Louisa PAcheco, Alma Carrillo and others on election dayLouisa Pacheco of VOICE–Buffalo took a couple minutes out of preparing for a public meeting Thursday evening to offer some upbeat reflections on the polls yesterday—including that turnout was really strong in her area:
Two years ago at our public meeting we pushed the State Legislators to raise the minimum wage...and we won!  However, we live in one of the highest cost of living states in the country, and we think an increase by the Governor would put more money into NY's economy.  We engaged voters to vote their values, and value their vote at the polls yesterday.

Alma Carrillo and I talked to hundreds of voters together last night, and what brought me so much hope is that Alma is a citizen of Mexico, and told me she is doing this because she sees an opportunity to talk to people about what is important to her and her family, sharing her energy to talk to total strangers about voting was exciting!

Our work is cut out for us

Ponsella Hardaway canvassed in Inkster, Michigan, population 25,000:

The city of Inkster was created by Henry Ford in the 1920s for the black plant workers.  They could not live with the whites in Dearborn, so Inkster was created.

I have never gotten a power analysis of a city quite like this: My canvassing partner Mr. Hardison knew most of the people whose doors we knocked. He filled me on all the power players that currently reside in Inkster, from the two African-American sisters in their 80s who run a local funeral home, to a circuit court judge to the local millionaire and business owners.

The conversations were rich. I will never forget one man that told us he buried his wife this week, but went to the polls and cast his vote Tuesday anyway. I also will never forget the people, virtually all in their late 30's, who stated they would not vote and do not believe anything is going to change.

Well, we are certain of that now. Given the election results, it seems millions out there don't believe voting will change anything. Our organizing work is cut out for us now. It is going to be harder.
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