Local Electoral Victories Set the Stage for Progressive Change
The 2020 election was generation-defining in many respects—from the record-breaking turnout to the critical social justice issues on the ballot for millions of Americans—a coalition of diverse voters, led by Black and Brown organizers, showed up to flex their electoral power in major ways this year.
From California to Georgia, and across the country, we saw the huge impact organizing was able to make at the local level. Here at home, activists powered huge wins across Los Angeles on initiatives such as the landmark Measure J, which will redirect approximately $1 Billion of the county’s general fund to community investments like affordable housing, mental health services, youth development programs and job-creation.
The effort was led by the Re-Imagine L.A. County coalition—a group of activists with lived experience dealing with systems of injustice—and their longshot bid received widespread support. Several of our grantee partners were a part of the coalition leading this effort, including Community Coalition, CHIRLA, LACAN, LA Black Worker Center, Inner City Struggle, Youth Justice Coalition, Brothers, Sons, Selves, and Khmer Girls in Action. They joined a huge and diverse group of endorsers from elected officials to faith-based groups, unions and other community organizations fighting for changes to our carceral system. Next steps are to determine how the funds will be allocated beginning in the coming budget year.
With Measure J winning more than 2.1 million YES votes, Los Angeles County once again proved why we lead the way in reimagining systems and approaches that can expand equity and justice for all.
Measure US Wins in Long Beach!
Progressive change was in the air across the County during this year’s election. In Long Beach, voters passed Measure US, a landmark proposal which would increase the city's general-purpose oil production tax from $0.15 to up to $0.30 per barrel generating an estimated $1.6 million per year to fund community healthcare services, air/water quality and climate change programs, increase childhood education and youth programs, and expand job training opportunities.
Click here to learn more about Measure US.
Schools & Communities First: Building Power Through Setbacks
While we were disappointed in the results of the Proposition 15, the Schools & Communities First Ballot Measure we endorsed, we witnessed through this campaign some innovative outreach tactics that helped continue to build power at the grassroots level, and an operation that was able to push through the COVID-19 crisis to deliver a strong, consistent message to voters. The campaign was able to recruit and train more than 10,000 volunteers, deploying an entirely remote digital field campaign that engaged hundreds of phone canvassers to help turn out the vote. In the end they contacted more than 480,000 voters and conducted outreach in 11 languages. But the most important impact was a long-term commitment to year-round voter organizing that emerged out of this effort and will ensure that historically disenfranchised communities are continuing to lead the fights for reform.
While we fell short at the ballot box this time, we know these fights are a marathon not a sprint. While Schools & Communities First would have provided much-needed funds to address some major funding issues with our local schools, we know the battle does not stop because of one setback. Our allies and all of those fighting for access to equitable educational opportunities for all youth will not give up and neither will we.
Stay tuned for the next steps and how you can get involved with future efforts.