The Network Download: Decriminalizing abortion, reimagining traffic safety, school board updates, and more | Feb 2023

Local Progress + Local Progress Impact Lab Network Download
Latest News & Exciting Updates

Localities Reimagine Traffic Safety 

Traffic safety is more than enforcement. Our goal is to make sure we are safe on our roadways and in transit, that we can make it to our destination free of harm, discrimination, and violence. Across the country, there is already work being done that reimagines traffic safety with the holistic understanding of what people need to move safely and freely within their neighborhoods and communities. This includes, among many things, removing police from traffic enforcement. LP member and Memphis City Councilmember Michalyn Easter-Thomas introduced legislation that would stop pretextual stops for six minor traffic violations, modeled after Philadelphia’s Driving Equality Bill that took effect last year and spearheaded by LP member and Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. Read more about how localities are reimagining traffic safety →

Local Electeds Call for Paid Family Leave in Minnesota

Legislative session is underway in many states across the country. In Minnesota, local electeds have joined a coalition of organizers and community partners to reignite the fight for statewide paid family and medical leave. After sending a letter of unified support to the Minnesota legislature, members of the LPMN Organizing Committee testified at a House Committee hearing on the issue earlier this month. St. Paul City Councilmember Mitra Jalali spoke about the importance of and impact on city employees; Hopkins Public School Board Member Jen Westermoreland spoke for public school employees; St. Paul School Board Member Uriah Ward stood up for teachers; and Minnetonka City Councilmember Kimberly Wilburn highlighted the impossible choices Minnesotans are forced to make everyday they go without paid family and medical leave. See more highlights →

Efforts to Decriminalize Abortion Continue Making Headway

The El Paso City Council passed a version of the GRACE Act – making it the sixth locality in the state to do so. Led by LP Board member and Representative Alexsandra Annello, the effort passed 7-1 thanks to continued pressure from the community and a committed slate of newly elected council members after the resolution was initially voted down last year. In San Antonio, where the GRACE Act passed last summer, a grassroots coalition submitted over 38,000 signatures to place a justice charter on the May ballot. If passed, the City would adopt several criminal justice reforms in their charter, including a measure that would effectively eliminate the enforcement of the state’s abortion ban and enshrine parts of the GRACE Act. Find more resources on how to use local power to protect abortion access here → 

network news

📣 ICYMI: Meet Our First-Ever School Board Steering Committee 

With more than 200 school board members in the network, Local Progress and the Local Progress Impact Lab have spent the last year laying a foundation for our school board work – preparing to organize school board members around a multi-issue policy agenda and create a community of practice for local leaders. As a membership organization, we believe our work is more impactful when it is informed and guided by members. That’s why, last week, we were thrilled to announce the formation of our first-ever School Board Steering Committee. The steering committee will guide the work of the school board cohort moving forward, bringing a diverse range of experiences and expertise to building our shared agenda. Learn more about the Steering Committee → 


⚡️ LP Team Updates!

Over the last year, the LP Team has doubled in size and grown in more ways than one. We’re thrilled to share some staffing updates: We are joined by Kidist Teferi as HR & Operations Manager on our Operations team who is supporting the robust infrastructure needed to keep the network going and Jessy Lancaster as the Membership Data Manager on our Organizing team who is building a data-driven approach to all our work. In our state work, Melissa Carrera-Solano is stepping up as New York Chapter Manager; Chad Radock is expanding our regional work as the Northeast Regional Manager; and Jillia Pessenda continues to build out the work in Minnesota as the Minnesota Chapter Manager. On the Program team, we’re thrilled to share that Ari Schwartz is now serving as Program Director. 

We said goodbye last month to long-time LP staffer Silvia Fabela who led and grew so many pieces of our programming work over the last six years. We’re sending her so much love as she serves as the Senior Advisor on Immigration and Labor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a role in which she will be leading a pilot program announced through the LA Declaration.

Willie German, Jr. is the Vice Mayor of Muskegon, Michigan. Born and raised in the city he now serves; Willie was first elected as a City Commissioner in 2011 and currently serves as Vice Mayor of the City of Muskegon. He has dedicated his entire career to supporting education initiatives, equality, youth programs and leadership in community organizing. Willie graduated from Baker College of Muskegon, with a bachelor’s in Business Administration, Master’s in Educational Leadership/Administration and a Certification in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from the American Association Access Equity and Diversity.

Assisting implementing negotiation by getting black and minority own contractors’ contracts in the cities infill housing projects, black owned marijuana processing businesses, black owner paint company, minority woman businesses and major downtown developments, pushing to diversify the police, fire departments, and advocating for the American Recue Plan Act (ARPA) Community Grant Program for 501c3 organizations, neighborhood associations grant opportunities for startup businesses.

Willie has hosted several town hall meetings and pushed a grassroot effort initiative to fight gentrification in Muskegon, by working with three of four neighborhoods in ward 2, to make sure inclusive zoning does not exclude, displace, or price out residents and citizens in the neighborhoods they live.

On June 14, 2022, Willie drafted the Resolution City of Muskegon Honoring Juneteenth National Independence Day, which pass unanimously by the city commission. He also, wrote and presented the Proclamation City of Muskegon Opposes Racism in Our City. Vice Mayor German is pursuing some work on policy for policing.

He is also the proud father of three children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. As a Local Progress member, he serves on the Black Caucus Leadership Committee – helping to build a supportive community for Black elected in the network. 

What is your favorite thing about being a Local Progress member?

I really enjoy being a Local Progress member, because of the training, information to equip local leaders with the things needed to do the work with and for the community. The diverse groups of members, that range from different ages, gender, religion, ethnic groups and sexual orientations. I look forward to seeing everyone at our national convening and meeting new Local Progress members as well. I’m really intrigued by the professionalism and bright minds of every member of the Local Progress Black Caucus Leadership Committee, and their experiences of contribution to the organization.


NEW POLICY MEMO: Local Power to Choose Welcome

Informed by interviews with grassroots organizers, government officials, policy advocates, and local elected leaders organizing in their communities, the new memo highlights medium-term strategies for cities to support new arrivals. The memo includes insight on how to coordinate between different levels of government and guidance on identifying and leveraging sources of funding. Check it out →

🛑 Stop the Stops Project

Our friends at Vera are launching a project called Stop the Stops to work with localities across the country on a safer, fairer, and more equitable approach to traffic stops. Each participating jurisdiction will study, draft, and introduce legislation/policy to end or limit the use of law enforcement stops for low-level issues that do not affect traffic safety—such as broken taillights, dangling air fresheners, or expired vehicle registrations. Several cities including Philadelphia (PA) and Chapel Hill (NC) and states from Oregon to Virginia have already made such transformative changes. This project seeks to add many others to their ranks. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until March 10, 2023. Learn how to apply →

🧠 Upcoming Policy & Strategy Primers

Our Policy & Strategy Primers are a series of foundational learning sessions on policy tools and strategy designed to help local electeds and staff figure out where and how to get started on key issues. The series operates on a regular, recurring schedule throughout the year focusing on issues related to housing, community safety, economic justice, and communications strategies. Check out the schedule →