CVPPAC President Pam Whalen talks about organizing, increasing membership in the CVPPAC and progressives winning political power in Fresno.

Why You Should Join the Central Valley Progressive PAC

*** The content in this section is paid for by the Central Valley Progressive PAC ***

By Mike Rhodes

CVPPAC (Central Valley Progressive PAC) president Pam Whalen asked everyone at the organization’s May 2015 meeting what they would say (in one minute or less) to someone they were asking to join the group. She asked everyone to assume they were in an elevator and had one minute to convince someone to join. After the meeting, I asked Whalen how she would have answered the question.

“I am just so tired of having these people that are clearly not serving our interests running this town, running our county and running our schools. This reality has a severe impact on all of us in terms of the air we breathe, the water we drink and what kind of education our kids get. I think the opportunity is there for us to elect people who will represent our interests. Progressives are the majority—we just need to get our neighbors and friends and family to vote so we can have a government that represents our interests and not the developers and large agribusiness.”

The CVPPAC is currently gearing up for the 2016 elections by increasing the group’s membership to 200. There are currently 110 CVPPAC members who generate about $20,000 per election cycle. With 200 members, the group would double the amount of money available to support progressive candidates. Whalen says that “we are asking CVPPAC members to approach their friends and colleagues and explain to them that we have this opportunity to improve our city and to ask them to join with us.”

Regular dues in the CVPPAC are $100 a year. At the May meeting, a new $20 membership for students and people with a low income was established. The group hopes that this will increase membership and participation by those unable to pay at the regular rate.

Of course, it will not be possible to win political power only by contributing money to candidates. The CVPPAC works in coalitions and members walk precincts for progressive candidates and push for changes—like campaign finance reform.

Whalen says that “we are a member of the Fresno Partnership, which is a broad coalition of labor, community and environmental groups that has worked separately on electoral issues in the past. But in the last election, people worked together starting with the whole issue around sanitation workers, union jobs and Measure G.

“We saw the potential of what we could do if a lot of people came together to get something in their common interest done. We had success with defeating Measure G and succeeded in getting Esmeralda Soria elected to the Fresno City Council.”

Whalen says she is optimistic about the future. “There are a lot of things going for us. We know we have the majority. Most people support progressive issues. Poll after poll shows that people support increasing the minimum wage. People support more money for schools and less on jails and prisons. On many issues, people support us.

“In 2016, we’re looking at a presidential election where we are going to be able to anticipate a much greater voter turnout. The greater the turnout the more progressive the electorate. Many of our voters don’t vote in the off-year election. But during the presidential elections many more people come out and that makes a much more progressive electorate. We need to be there putting in front of people good progressive choices in these next elections.”

The CVPPAC has just completed a process of developing a Strategic Plan for the next several years. The plan outlines the current political landscape and what must be done for progressives to win electoral victories in Fresno.

Whalen says that “right now is a time when we have a chance to expand our membership and increase our capacity so that we will be in a good position to be able to have a big impact on the elections in 2016. We are looking at the FUSD school board election.

“We are looking at the Hoover High school district; we believe that we can elect a much more progressive person to represent that trustee area. Janet Ryan (the current trustee from that area) is probably one of the most conservative elected officials in Fresno. That district has a majority of Democrats and a majority of working people in it, and we believe that we can elect a progressive in that district to represent our interests.

“We are also looking at City Council District 4. Paul Caprioglio is there. He has voted consistently against the interests of poor and working people. We have a majority of progressives, Democrats and Latinos there that make it possible for us to put somebody more progressive in that district.”

For more information about the CVPPAC, visit www.cvppac. org. To become a member of the CVPPAC, visit www.cvppac.org/ join-us/.

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Mike Rhodes is a frequent contributor to the Community Alliance. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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