We all know the midterm elections are a critical opportunity to bring our voices to the ballot box. But the upcoming midterm elections have offered additional opportunities for citizen action—and success—for us here at American Promise in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Last year at the National Citizen Leadership Conference, American Promise Citizen Empowerment Coordinator Azor Cole presented author Ellen Greene Bush with a Citizen Leadership Award for her work with the Port Clinton, Ohio, American Promise Association.
We began our outreach with emails and phone calls in February, but as the midterms approached we realized that campaign events gave us an excellent opportunity for face-to-face contact with incumbents and opponents, as well as campaign staff and candidate supporters. We wanted to make the most of these opportunities to communicate with campaigns and candidates about the 28th Amendment and our mission to get big money out of elections and policy-making.
Our leadership team—Stacy Adams, Nancy Gurney, Carol Martin and myself—attended many campaign events, individually or in small groups, and talked about the mission of American Promise and the candidate pledge. We asked candidates and incumbents if they knew about the issue and whether they would consider signing a pledge to work to limit big money in politics. We talked with fellow citizens about the issue, and were able to hear one-on-one feedback. Nancy Gurney sums up our approach: “When you have an issue to believe in, the worst they can say is, ‘No.’ So we weren’t afraid to ask.”
We were heartened by the citizen support we heard for getting big money out of politics. “When we talk to people, most agree that corporate money should not be able to buy our politicians,” Stacy Adams says. And the candidates agreed, as well. Our Port Clinton group, with help from the newly formed Columbus American Promise, obtained signatures of eight Congressional candidates supporting our cause. These candidates signed the American Promise Candidate Pledge to support the 28th Amendment in Congress if elected. We also received signatures from candidates for the Ohio statehouse. And we were enlightened by our one-on-one conversations about American Promise with Ohio candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and two candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Ohio Congressional candidates who signed the pledge are Aftab Pureval (District 1), Jill Schiller (2), Janet Garrett (4), Michael Galbraith (5), Shawna Roberts (6), Dr. Vanessa Enoch (8), Marcy Kaptur (9) and Rick Neal (15). We applaud their messages about unlimited and hidden money as a major influence not only in elections but as a detriment to change on substantive issues affecting the American people.
Carol Martin succinctly summed up the importance of our efforts when she said, “Everyone who lives in America belongs in American Promise. We have to reclaim our basic rights over those of corporations.” We look forward to working with all the dedicated and interesting people we have met this year, in Ohio and across the nation, as we pursue our goal of a 28th Amendment into 2019 and beyond.