Elected officials – like all people in our society – are more effective and powerful when they work together. By organizing together, we can share knowledge and strategies and build new ways of doing the work. Last week, more than 40 Local Progress member leaders and partner organizations from across the country came together for our first Leadership Collaborative: Elected Officials as an Organized Force.
These members have been leaders in the national network, on our state organizing committees, issue-based steering committees, and identity caucus leadership committees. These leaders are truly special – both in how they bring their full selves into their elected roles and in the clear belief that we have the power to change what government looks like and what it can do. Many are the first from their communities to serve in local office – the first woman, the first person of color, the first queer person, first immigrant. Most come from community organizing, understanding the government as an arena in which we must build, own, and share power together; most never imagined themselves ever running for office but stepped up because they believe in something bigger than themselves.
At the Leadership Collaborative, members discussed ways to organize within their councils or boards, across their states, and at the national level. We discussed strategies for how members can advance racial and economic justice whether they’re the only progressives on their councils or boards, they have a minority bloc, or they’re in the majority. With the GRACE Act moving across Texas to mobilizations against HB1 in Florida to LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina, Local Progress members are advancing local policies on reproductive rights, democracy, housing, public safety, labor, and more. Even when faced with limited means to pass transformative policies in the short term, Local Progress leaders are building out progressive organizing infrastructure to shift their government bodies and the national landscape for the long term. In the face of preemption, bureaucracy, and other obstacles.
The attendees were joined by leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus including Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Greg Casar (TX-35), and Ilhan Omar (MN-5), all of whom reflected on the importance of local government, both as a means for moving bold policy and as a pipeline to state and federal office.
This event was just the first of four Leadership Collaboratives. Future convenings will focus on the other pillars of the Strategic Framework:
- Racial Justice as a Beacon for All
- Collaborative Governing to Build Power
- Adaptive Change from the Ground Up
At Local Progress, we understand that we are all stronger when we collectively organize as local electeds across the country and in deep partnership with grassroots allies towards a shared vision. The Leadership Collaborative is how we deepen that work.
Interested in getting involved? Get in touch with the LP team.