CVPPAC and Hope for the Future
By Mike Rhodes
Fresno has had the reputation of being a wide-open town: Mark Arax’s book, In My Father’s Name, tells of a time not long ago when corrupt elements within the Fresno Police department ran the prostitution, gambling, and drug trade in this city. It was so corrupt that the chief of police married the biggest madam in town. Ten years ago, developers and builders freely bribed local City Council members to get votes for their projects. Operation Rezone caught a number of them in the act of selling us out—one City Council member sold a vote for a set of tires for his car. Another gave his vote in trade for a new suit.
Today the corruption is not as obvious, but the legacy lives on. Urban sprawl is out of control; we do not have a viable mass transportation system; we have had double-digit unemployment for decades; our local school district (Fresno Unified) has a high-school dropout rate of 23%; and we have the worst air in the nation. Elections and elected officials continue to be strongly influenced by builders, developers, and other big business interests. All of that is about to change.
Enter the Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee (CVPPAC). The goal of the CVPPAC is to increase voter participation, empower groups and individuals with a progressive political agenda, and elect progressive candidates to office. The CVPPAC will accomplish this by choosing candidates who support these core values:
·a living wage for all workers
·adequate public transportation and bike paths
·improved public education
·health care for all.
CVPPAC wants everyone who cares about this community to become a member and work together to improve life in Fresno and the Central Valley. If you have ever complained about politics, the environment, or government, now is the time to do something more than talk. You can be a member of the CVPPAC for $8.33 a month, or $100 a year. You can join by sending your dues to CVPPAC at PO Box 5845, Fresno, CA 93755.
But wait! The CVPPAC is about more than just raising money to counter the influence of the builders and developers. In order to run a viable campaign for political office, it is essential to have enough money to get your message out to the voters—but CVPPAC organizers know that it is going to take more than money to win political power in this community. Simply throwing money at the political process would probably just result in more expensive campaigns. The CVPPAC’s advantage lies in its ability to mobilize grassroots volunteers in the election process. There are a lot more of us than there are builders and developers. If you combine the money, candidates who support the core values of the progressive community, and a grassroots that is determined to hold Get Out the Vote campaigns, you have the ability to win elections at the local level. That is what the CVPPAC is all about.
The CVPPAC has been described as a three-legged stool. Each leg is essential to the success of the project. The money, which will be raised through dues, is the first leg. Finding good candidates who support the core values of the progressive community is the second leg. CVPPAC organizers believe that good candidates will come forward when the infrastructure to run a viable campaign is in place. The third leg of the stool is the voter registration and get out the vote campaigns, which will be carried out by grassroots volunteers.
Did you know that only 26% of eligible voters bothered to participate in the last Fresno County elections? If the CVPPAC can mobilize more voters by giving them hope and inspiration for a better community through their participation in the democratic process, everything can be possible. Electing progressive local representatives to the School Board, City Council, and Board of Supervisors will impact our education system, affect our air quality, make it possible for workers to earn a living wage, create affordable housing, and so much more.
The CVPPAC has not decided which races to focus on first. There is discussion about the Fresno Unified School Board elections coming up this November and the City Council/Board of Supervisor races in 2006. These are questions that CVPPAC members will discuss and decide upon soon. Want to be a part of the discussion? Join the CVPPAC.
The first fundraiser for the CVPPAC will be held on Thursday, July 22, from 6 PM to 8 PM
at the home of Howard and Chris Watkins, 1785 W Dovewood Lane, Fresno (near Bullard and West) . The cost is $20 for members of the CVPPAC and $30 for nonmembers. For more information about the CVPPAC go to <www.cvppac.org>, call (559) 226–1416, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .