Proving the strong cross-partisan support for getting big money out of politics, citizen leaders in Minnesota passed a county resolution in Sherburne County, one of the most conservative counties in the state.
The 28th Amendment to get big money out of politics will succeed based on the action and cooperation of engaged citizens of every political persuasion. Kathryn Tasto is one of the many citizen leaders across the nation who has successfully led local action to help drive national progress toward the 28th Amendment.
Kathryn became politically active after the 2016 election, wanting to make a difference in a system she sees as corrupted by money. Her passion led her to join a local American Promise Association. In April 2018, American Promise MN was successful in passing a local 28th Amendment resolution in Sherburne County, Minnesota, one of the most conservative counties in the state.
The work of American Promise MN has already inspired other citizen leaders, including those in the Santa Fe, New Mexico, American Promise Association, who got their own local resolution passed earlier this year. In this Q&A, Kathryn shares some of the process that helped her APA achieve success—in hopes of inspiring others across the nation to do the same.
Please explain how this local resolution came about. What initiated the process?
Vicki Barnes from American Promise MN met with the Sherburne Indivisible group to present information about the 28th Amendment and explain that we could work together to take action by asking our county commissioners to adopt a resolution. Several members of our organization, including myself, decided to research the topic, contact a few of our commissioners, and make an appointment to get onto the county board agenda.
What reaction did you get from your county commissioners when you began to speak with them about the amendment?
We met personally with three of the commissioners before making the request to be on the county agenda. At each meeting we presented information about the issue. All three commissioners agreed that there is too much special interest money influencing our elections and our government. We knew going into the formal board meeting that we had a majority in favor of the resolution. The final vote was 4-0, with one commissioner absent.
How did the national American Promise organization support your local efforts on this resolution?
During the process, one of the commissioners changed the wording of the resolution without our permission, basically gutting it. We had to rewrite it with a small concession. American Promise Counsel Johannes Epke, from the national office, looked it over to be sure the new wording was strong enough for a local resolution. Having that level of support from the national office was vital for easing the anxiety of “getting it wrong.”
What does passage of this resolution mean for your APA, your county and your state?
Two local news outlets covered the story, which means the action provided an avenue to educate the public about the issue. The local resolution is not binding, so there is no “bite” to it in terms of getting Minnesota closer to ratification, but Sherburne is one of the most conservative counties in Minnesota, so it helps lead the way for surrounding counties to get involved.
What was the best part of this accomplishment?
The best part for me personally is the opportunity to participate at the local government level, to meet with local elected officials, to present my research at an official board meeting, and to know that my work had an impact in my community.
Any advice for other APAs looking to follow your lead?
Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about your elected officials before you meet with them, and meet with each one personally. At your first meeting ask if s/he will support your efforts. If not, ask why, then address those concerns to win support. Do not request a vote until you know you have enough support. It’s more difficult to backtrack a failed vote than to wait for a better time.
What’s up next for your APA?
We hope to work in the surrounding counties with groups that are willing to work on this process in their county/city.
Want to get involved in local action in your area? Click here to find out what’s going on in your state.