Washington, DC (PRWEB) November 20, 2012
Building on their recent electoral victories, 37 progressive elected officials from 32 municipalities around the country united last weekend to launch Local Progress, a network of leaders dedicated to promoting “broadly-shared prosperity, equal justice under law, sustainable and livable cities, and good government that serves the public interest effectively.”
The gathering kicked off with a rousing address from Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union, who said that SEIU is committed to building robust progressive infrastructure at the state and local level because it is crucial to improving the lives of working families. “We’re building a movement for a more fair and just society,” said Nick Licata, the Seattle City Council member who is chairing the network. “And we’re off to an amazing start.”
Local Progress will facilitate sharing and development of policy innovations, local legislation, organizing strategies, and communication tools. It will also help progressive advocacy organizations and elected officials collaborate on policy work in cities around the country and elevate issues into the national dialogue.
“After decades of rising inequality, rebuilding America requires smart and sustained communication and coordination between progressive advocacy groups and elected leaders,” said Nisha Agarwal, deputy director of the Center for Popular Democracy, which is a founding partner of Local Progress. “It’s crucial that we share innovative municipal policies and collaborate to realize our goals of equity, opportunity, and inclusion.” Cities are the driving force of America’s economic engine: the top 100 metropolitan areas account for about 75 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product; the top ten cities have an economic output that is about equal to that of 35 states.
“We have deep relationships with leaders in cities around the country,” said Gloria Totten, president of the Public Leadership Institute, also a founding partner of the new network. “And we’re bringing them together through Local Progress to share their best practices and unite behind a progressive agenda for our country.”
On Saturday morning, participants and outside experts discussed ways to rejuvenate the economy through the creation of good, middle class jobs. “We had lively presentations about how cities can foster smart economic growth,” said Wilson Goode Jr., the Philadelphia City Councilman who led the conversation. “Everyone agreed that we have to build an economy where workers are paid a living wage with adequate benefits, sick leave, and the security they need to support their families.”
The legislators spoke optimistically about their vision for the coming decades. “A broad coalition of voters sent a powerful message on election day,” said Faith Winter, Mayor Pro Tem of Westminster, CO. “Voters want government that works in the public interest – not just the interest of multinational corporations – and that treats everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve.”
The attendees said they planned to continue to push forward aggressively on coordinated legislative campaigns in the months and years ahead. Priorities include making government services more accessible for immigrants, creating middle-class green jobs and vibrant livable neighborhoods, empowering community residents to participate in democratic budgeting decisions, and supporting parents by strengthening schools and making work rules more flexible.
The Founding Board of Local Progress is
Wilson Goode Jr., Philadelphia (PA) City Council: (215) 686-3414
Brad Lander, New York (NY) City Council: (718) 499-1090
Chuck Lesnick, Yonkers (NY) City Council: chuck.lesnick(at)YonkersNY.gov; (914) 377-6060
Nick Licata, Seattle (WA) City Council: nick.licata(at)seattle.gov; (206) 684-8803
Joe Moore, Chicago (IL) City Council: ward49(at)cityofchicago.org; (773) 338-5796
Julia Ross, St. Louis Park (MN) City Council: juliaross.slp(at)gmail.com
Faith Winter, Westminster (CO) City Council: faithwinter(at)gmail.com; (303) 594-5594
and includes two core partner non-profit advocacy organizations: the Public Leadership Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy (http://www.populardemocracy.org).