Many of us at Tompkins County Progressives have been resting and recovering after long, hard-fought campaigns in 2018, which produced a number of important wins for our team. It was exciting to see so many new progressives elected to the New York State Senate, where the Democrats now have the majority. They are busy living up to campaign promises, passing GENDA and the Reproductive Health Act and election reform. It is wonderful to see.
TCP’s parent organization, NYPAN, was instrumental in not only removing almost all of the IDC Democrats from office, but also in supporting and passing the Child Victims Act. Now NYPAN is focused on electing Jumaane Williams (our previously endorsed candidate for Lt. Governor) to the position of Public Advocate in New York City. The work we did for him in the Lt. Gov’s race is paying dividends and he has a real chance of winning on February 26th.
NYPAN held its fall conference in Ithaca, by the way, with directors traveling here from around the state. We rode Limebikes to the Ithaca Falls, met at the Beverly J. Martin gym, and hung out in the evening at the Argos Warehouse. Ithaca made a very good impression!
There is work ahead for 2019, even for those of us not directly impacted by the Public Advocate’s race. At the state level, progressives are still fighting for the New York Health Act, which will not be as easy to get through the legislature as the other bills mentioned above. TCP and NYPAN members will need to show up in Albany, make phone calls to their representatives, talk with businesses and union members, etc., if we want the NYHA to pass this year. Additional election reforms are needed, beyond early voting and pre-registration for young people. Other top issues for progressives at the state level include criminal justice, the environment, immigration, and education. If these issues are important to you, please bring your knowledge and enthusiasm to TCP and consider joining our statewide NYPAN committees, to plan and exchange ideas.
At the local level, TCP would like to encourage members to get involved in local races (which will include the mayor’s race and many town races). All candidates for all of these positions will need to carry petitions to collection signatures to get on the ballot — in March! The first date for the petition drive is February 26th. This is much earlier than in the past, because one of the recent election reforms was the consolidation of primaries. All primaries in New York will now take place in June, as opposed to some happening in June and others in September.
Any Democrats in Tompkins County who would like to get on the Tompkins County Democratic Committee (or who would like to retain their seat if they are already on), will *also* need to carry petitions starting February 26th. TCP strongly encourages all willing progressive Democrats to join the county committee, and we can help you with the process. The Democratic Party and the progressive community share so many goals, and we are very complimentary organizations. The Democratic Party has the structure in place and a ballot line, while the progressive “wing” has energy and fresh ideas (or, old ideas that look fresh now, like FDR’s new deal…). Let’s work together! We need to register voters, bring independents into the Democratic Party in time for 2020, motivate young people, and recruit a “bench” of candidates for local and state office.
2020: Yes, we are excited. There are dozens of Democrats running for the Presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders will almost certainly be among them. If he is, we can be certain that all the topics that are near and dear to our hearts will be discussed. The media won’t be able to ignore income inequality, the environment, corporate greed, and so forth, like they tried to do in 2016. NYPAN has passed a resolution calling for Bernie to join the race, but NYPAN will not endorse until later, after we have seen all the candidates in action. It won’t be easy to outshine Bernie, and a number of the candidates are clearly quite far to his right, but that is OK. It will be interesting to watch the candidates react when asked, for example, “do you agree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who suggested that the top marginal tax rate should be raised to 70%?” Who else besides Bernie will say yes?
When the 2020 primaries get to New York, it will be very important for us to have various reforms in place. A number of NYPAN members (including TCP’s co-chair, Emily Adams) have gotten themselves elected to State Democratic Committee positions, where they are working to change the bylaws and the normal procedures to make our state party more fair. The State Committee seems to have become a “wholly owned subsidiary” of the Governor in recent years, but this is likely to change soon. When the Governor used the committee to send out a campaign letter accusing his opponent of being anti-Semitic, it was a step too far, and the reaction even among long-standing members was strong.
In short: TCP and NYPAN are active, they have a role to play, they are gaining recognition in the media and among elected officials — and they are very eager to recruit new members (and new chapters) in 2019!
Won’t you consider joining TCP, if you aren’t a member already? Dues are $27 per year (with waivers available as we do not want finances to be an obstacle for anyone). TCP has a listserv for members to share information and engage in discussion. We can connect members with other NYPAN members around the state to work on shared interests. We meet on the first Thursday of every month, at the Quaker Meeting House, and plan other special events and seminars, which appear on our calendar on this website.