First-of-its-kind election volunteer center opens in Davis
"The strategy is a broad one, aimed not just at the White House, but also the Senate, the House of Representatives and even state legislatures."
By Lloyd Knox | Special to the Enterprise
Across the country, thousands of local grassroots political groups — formed in the wake of the 2016 election — are organizing now to support Democrats in November.
Here in Yolo County, Indivisible Yolo and Sister District CA-3 held their Election 2020 Kickoff last week, a call to arms pitched to an audience of almost 200 people. Then, on March 7, they hosted the grand opening of the Election 2020 Volunteer Center.
Their mission: Flip red-state legislatures blue, defend the House of Representatives and flip the Senate, and win the White House for the Democratic nominee. At March 5’s kickoff event, emotions were palpable as the leadership (mostly women) shared their motivations, experiences and lessons learned.
“The last three years have taught us a lot, but the resounding lesson that shapes our path forward in this moment is that no one is coming to save us,” said Rachel Beck of Indivisible Yolo. “(Robert) Mueller didn’t do it. Impeachment didn’t do it. Neither the Department of Justice nor the judiciary will save us. A Democratic majority in the House (of Representatives) alone isn’t saving us. And even our favorite presidential candidate will not be our savior. So who saves us? We save us.”The two local grassroots groups are aiming to build on activity and accomplishments of the past few years by recruiting more volunteers. Since 2017, they have reached out to voters via more than 14,000 phone calls, 25,000 postcards and 140,000 texts. Collectively they have spent more than 3,000 days knocking on doors.
The strategy is a broad one, aimed not just at the White House, but also the Senate, the House of Representatives and even state legislatures.“In key swing states like Arizona and Pennsylvania, Republican legislatures are keeping Democrats from winning through gerrymandering and voter suppression,” said Kelly Wilkerson of Sister District CA-3. “We need to work strategically to flip state legislatures blue and give Democrats a fair fight in every state.” Beck expanded on the strategy: “To save our democracy we must drive overwhelming voter turnout, enough voters to vote the GOP out of office up and down the ballot. Enough voters that we negate the impacts of voter roll purges, the closing of polling places, racist voter ID laws, exact match voter registration laws and the like. That takes work. It happens with person to person, voter to voter contact. One voter at a time.”
After the overview from Beck and Wilkerson, the audience heard from the leaders of the efforts in phone calling, texting, writing postcards, canvassing (knocking on doors) and registering new voters.
“We don’t canvass in our district because we’re safely blue. So for us, canvassing usually involves a road trip to a nearby congressional district,” explained Kari Peterson.
Audrey Pan spoke about writing postcards to voters, and then about her 10-year-old son.
“Just the other day, as my son was cooking some simple soup for himself, he said he’s just as independent as a 5th grader we saw in a movie; because in the movie, the child’s mother was hospitalized long term, forcing the child to grow up. My son said his mother is postcardalized and activistalized. He understands we have something precious to save, our Democracy and our only home, Mother Earth.”
The event ended with a call for commitments to participate in the work.
“The last thing I want you to take away from tonight is, ‘Whew, they got this’,” said Emily Hill of Indivisible Yolo. “Because we do not ‘got this.’ But together? We’ve got this.”Two days later came the grand opening of the Election 2020 Volunteer Center at 720 E. Olive Dr.
The opening attracted the attendance of local politicians like Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs and Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, as well as professional grassroots organizers Bobby Michaels of the national Indivisible organization and Andrew Kim, field director and strategist with Flip the West. The center is the result of a local fundraising effort that paid the rent through the Nov. 3 election.“We are extremely grateful for the generous support from the community that has made this facility possible,” said Wilkerson. “We are now equipped to work to win the most consequential election of our lives.”
Michaels told the crowd, “This is the only Indivisible group across the country that has opened its own brick and mortar volunteer center.” Added Kim: “Many of the local chapters of these national groups are fighting with each other over limited local resources. But Sister District CA-3 and Indivisible Yolo are working together toward their common goals. It’s paying off. They are building a large, positive, effective community of volunteers. And they are doing it now. This is when elections are won. Not on election day, but months in advance.” To find out more visit IndivisibleYolo.org and/or Sisterdistrictca3.wixsite.com/sdca3.