If you are a progressive, support social and economic justice and live in Fresno City Council District 7, we urge you to vote for Veva Islas on June 5, 2018. The CVPPAC unanimously endorsed Islas because she is a grassroots activist, she has progressive politics and has the ability, if elected, to be an advocate for the issues that will improve this community.
Take, for example, her response to a question at the Community Forum organized by the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC). All three candidates attended and were asked, “Is it your philosophy that Black lives matter or that all lives matter?” Progressives understand that because of the disproportionate number of Blacks affected by police shootings is so high, that if Black lives are protected and matter, then it is safe to assume that all lives matter. The right-wing knee jerk response is to proclaim that “all lives matter,” ignoring the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here is how the three candidates running in District 7 responded to the question at the BAPAC forum. Republican Brian Whelan had the first shot at the question. He said he believes “all lives matter” and went on to say that “whether you’re White, Black, Brown or purple I want to be someone that represents you.” Veva Islas said, “I believe deeply and profoundly and I’m on record for supporting Black Lives Matter. This does not mean that I don’t value the lives of everybody in the community, but not all lives are under threat and if you can’t acknowledge that, you are doing a disservice to the vulnerable and disadvantage members in our community.” Nelson Esparza, who is a trustee on the Fresno County Board of Education and running for this City Council seat, said, “My brother is a police officer, and I have nightmares about him. I text him every couple of days to make sure he is doing OK. I think his life matters. I think my life matters.” At the forum, Ezparza identified himself as half African-American and half Latino who grew up in a Latino household and said, “I won’t feed into the divisive rhetoric. I support safety in our community for all folks.”
Veva Islas was the only candidate in the District 7 race to respond to the CVPPAC questionnaire, which asked for a response to numerous issues of concern in the progressive community. The CVPPAC sent a questionnaire to Esparza, but not Whelan. It was the opinion of the leadership in the CVPPAC that it was a waste of time to send a questionnaire to the right-wing Republican in the race. The CVPPAC asked Islas and Esparza about the homeless issue. The question was: Evaluate the successes and failures of City Hall’s approach to ending homelessness and what, if anything, you would do differently. Include your position on the new anti-camping ordinance.
Esparza had no response. Islas wrote, “There are several areas where the city has failed in regard to creating a successful policy to end homelessness. First, there has been no attempts to respectfully engage the homeless population directly and hear their needs and interests; without fully appreciating the homeless context in Fresno we will fail in successfully addressing it. Secondly, beyond having affordable and alternative housing options we are woefully underserving the mental health and substance abuse treatment and recovery needs specific to the homeless population. There are partnerships that need to be leveraged and resources that need to be secured to be effective in meeting the mental health and substance-abuse treatment needs.
“The new anti-camping ordinance in Fresno is shameful. It does nothing to resolve our growing homeless population. Targeting homeless camps and throwing out property without due process is just wrong. We must treat all people with respect and protect their rights. Using tax dollars to implement the anti-homelessness ordinance is inefficient; those dollars could be better used to support hygiene facilities or housing. When elected, this ordinance would be something that I would like to work to reverse.”
The CVPPAC also asked Islas and Esparza about their position on immigrants. Again, no response from Esparza. Here is Islas’ reply to the following question: Given national attacks on immigrants, what steps should the City Council take to support our vibrant immigrant community, especially our undocumented neighbors and DACA recipients?
“As the child of immigrants, I can say unequivocally that the immigrant community wants to feel first and foremost safe and accepted. Continuing to suppress immigrants to the fringe and shadows only serves to allow them to be exploited and abused. Injustices carried out on any one people creates threats to us all. I would like to work to make Fresno part of the Sanctuary City movement. This would allow our immigrant community to be able to report crimes and violence committed against them. A sanctuary status would also help to eliminate barriers which prevent the full participation of our immigrant community in public decision making.
“In addition, and although it was previously voted down, I would like to revisit establishing a legal defense fund that is supported by the City. This would go a long way in making sure that those immigrants who are positively contributing in our community are not being unfairly targeted.
“I believe the City of Fresno should play a central role in dis-incentivizing immigration raids in our community, and I feel strongly that our local law enforcement officers should play no role in enforcing federal policies.”
Veva Islas is a member of the CVPPAC, and the group has contributed $2,000 to her campaign. Pam Whalen, president of the CVPPAC, says that “Veva is the standout progressive in this race. Her election to the Fresno City Council will give workers, immigrants and progressive activists a strong ally on issues that come before the city. She will also be an excellent advocate for the residents of District 7, with her longtime commitment to improve health outcomes for those living in the working-class neighborhoods of south and central Fresno. I encourage all progressives to offer your support for Veva. Please make a financial contribution to her campaign, and please volunteer to reach out to voters in District 7 on her behalf.”
We asked Veva Islas for her reaction to getting the CVPPAC endorsement and contribution. She said, “I am excited to be campaigning for Fresno City Council, District 7, and for the outpouring of community support. I’m particularly honored to have the CVPPAC endorsement because I hold deeply the same progressive values that CVPPAC and its members support, like environmental, social and economic justice; these issues are what my campaign is all about. I want to encourage everyone who believes in the need to work together for a better future to join us in this campaign. We need people to walk precincts, phone bank and financially support this effort. You can call me at 559-492-2339 or visit our Web site at www.VoteVeva2018. com for more information.”
You can find out more about Veva Islas and all candidates endorsed by the CVPPAC by going to www.cvppac.org and reading their responses to our questionnaire.
The Central Valley Progressive PAC has endorsed the following candidates in the June 5, 2018, primary:
Fresno City Council District 3
More information about Daren Miller and his campaign can be found here: http:// www.electdarenmiller.org
Fresno City Council District 5
More information about Jose Barraza and his campaign can be found here:
Fresno City Council District 7
More information about Veva Islas and her campaign can be found here: http://voteveva2018.com
State Assembly District 23
More information about Aileen Rizo and her campaign can be found here: https://www. aileenrizo.com
State Assembly District 26
More information about Jose Sigala and his campaign can be found here:
State Senate District 14
More information about Melissa Hurtado and her campaign can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/hurtadoforsenate/
Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters
More information about Adrian Rivera and his campaign can be found here:
Fresno County Board of Supervisors District 1
More information about Brian Pacheco and his campaign can be found here: http:// pachecoforsupervisor.com
You can read the responses from the above candidates to the CVPPAC questionnaire (about issues of concern in the progressive movement) at www.cvppac.org.
This month, the CVPPAC is asking everyone to volunteer and walk/call for our endorsed candidates on Saturday, May 12. We are doing this instead of having our monthly meeting. We will confirm times and locations with our endorsed candidates and post this information on our Web site at www.cvppac.org.
Central Valley Progressive PAC
Candidates Walk/Phone Bank
Saturday, May 12
9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Locations to be posted at www.cvppac.org.