On November 30th, Steering Committee members from around the state met at the Nazareth Retreat Center for a weekend retreat to discuss building grassroots power in Kentucky and review lessons that members learned during the 2018 elections.
Steering Committee members were welcomed to the meeting by Sister Carol McKean, who briefly discussed the work at Nazareth to promote environmental justice. KFTC members opened the meeting by receiving a report from Steering Committee leaders who attended the Facing Race conference where attendees discussed racial justice in Detroit.
Chandra Cruz-Thomson from Jefferson County shared her reflections on the conference with Steering Committee members. She lifted up several quotes from the conference and told KFTC members that activist Bree Newsome reminded conference attendees of the power of art in organizing by stressing that it is important to “use art to show people something they can’t imagine.”
Throughout the weekend, Steering Committee members were encouraged to imagine the future that KFTC is working towards as they discussed KFTC’s history of involvement in elections and the 2018 election results in Kentucky and nation-wide. These visioning exercises informed the Steering Committee’s planning for the 2019 and 2020 elections and beyond.
Mary Love of Oldham County recalled KFTC’s work to successfully pass a state constitutional amendment to prohibit abuses by mining companies, “my first involvement with KFTC was in 1988. I voted in the election where we had the constitutional amendment to do away with the broad-form deed.”
As Steering Committee members discussed the work that KFTC did during the 2018 election season, members lifted up 27 races where candidates who were endorsed by KFTC’s New Power PAC won elections. Rebecca Tucker of Madison County noted, “we had more people win [this election season] than we had ever endorsed before.”
Cassia Herron of Jefferson County lifted up that robust staff support for KFTC members was important to KFTC’s electoral work, “our staffing has been good and really important for helping members have the capacity to do this work. The staff supported member leaders making in making important endorsements.”
Summer Bolton of Warren County noted the importance of talking to voters about issues in the community during elections and beyond, “I see value in having meaningful conversations with voters.” Leslie Bebensee of Scott County echoed Bolton’s perspective and noted, “I had great conversations talking to voters at their doors in Georgetown”
David Miller of Knox County discussed what it was like to participate in KFTC’s electoral work as a new chapter, “We registered voters. These folks had never voted before. And we got contact information from new folks who are interested in KFTC.”
Amy Copelin of Boone County noted the Northern Kentucky KFTC chapter’s work to register voters, “we registered over 100 voters in our chapter.” Although there are challenges facing folks who are working to build new power, Copelin continued to emphasize, “I feel like it is encouraging when we look over the candidates that the New Power PAC endorsed, they out-performed expectations. And if we can keep building that momentum, that leads to change in the long run”
Shannon Scott of Boyle County added, “We closed a lot of gaps and got really close in many places. We also gained a lot of experience and learning as we go. Every time we do something together we are getting better.”
Chandra Cruz-Thomson added, “I find these numbers to be really optimistic. I know there was a lot of heartbreak in this election, but I find a lot of hope in it. All the data beneath the wins and the energy that was mobilized, and the energy we are putting in so we can learn from this in the future. Especially in a climate that was not built for us, to have the wins that we did in this climate is really hopeful”
Rebecca Tucker noted, “Having good candidates brings energy. Having friends to get involved and volunteer with brings energy. Having the tools to be successful is empowering.”
Members also discussed KFTC’s endorsement process. During 2018 KFTC members formed over a dozen locally-based Democracy Teams. These teams met throughout the year to discuss the political landscape in their regions, the issues in the election, and the candidates running for public offices.
Cassia Herron reiterated, “Having Democracy Teams was really important. It is important to have local leaders’ and local experts’ points of view in this process.” Christian Torp of Fayette County noted, “the Democracy Teams were extremely helpful. It was nice to have a chapter centered analysis to give the Executive Committee endorsement recommendations.”
KFTC Steering Committee members reflected on their experiences during the 2018 elections and shared their insights from across the state to develop a fuller picture of the election results in Kentucky. These insights informed the Steering Committee’s ongoing strategic approach toward making an impact in future elections across the state.
Other items the Steering Committee discussed include KFTC’s work around Racial Justice organizing, the upcoming 2019 General Assembly session and KFTC’s 2019 hiring decisions and staffing.
Reposted from http://kftc.org/blog/steering-committee-discuss-2018-elections