September 2020 Newsletter

Inside this Issue: Priorities and News | Updates from the Affiliates | Ways to Get Involved in the Revolution | New Book Club

Happy Primary Day!

ORMA has endorsed seven outstanding 2020 candidates in the Massachusetts Democratic Primary taking place on September 1 *TODAY*! Don’t forget to vote if you have not yet (be sure to wear a mask for in-person voting today). Our candidates can help to move the progressive agenda forward across the Commonwealth but first, of course, they must win, and this will not be easy in 2020 as many races are predicted to be close.

Starting statewide, we have endorsed Senator Ed Markey over his challenger Joe Kennedy. After hearing from both of them when they asked for our endorsement, ORMA’s membership voted to endorse Markey. Markey won our members’ trust so overwhelmingly because at every step of our evaluative process the differences between the candidates’ policies and priorities were clear.

Markey was the only Senate candidate to put forward a labor agenda, citing his advocacy in the fight for $15, the fight to expand public sector unions, and the fight to safeguard union elections. He was also the only candidate to put forward an immigrant agenda, citing his work to defend refugees with the Grace Act and to protect DACA and TPS recipients. Members also noted Senator Markey’s support for Rep. Pressley’s “baby bonds” bill to help close the racial wealth gap, and his work with Senators Sanders and Warren, and Reps. McGovern and Pressley, to suspend the Iran sanctions.

In CD-1 ORMA is excited to endorse Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse (who was also recently endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — see below details). As Mayor, Alex has accomplished a great deal in his eight years of service and has continued to add to his streak of “firsts.” He was the first Massachusetts mayor to call for the legalization of marijuana and under his leadership, Holyoke became Massachusetts’ first sanctuary city and began the implementation of a needle exchange program. He is also the first mayor to prominently and intentionally demand the inclusion of Puerto Rican works in public art; this is significant because Holyoke has the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans per capita in the US outside of Puerto Rico. Alex believes that Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and he enthusiastically supports Medicare for All, encouraging the City Council to pass a resolution in favor of it. He’s also the first CD-1 Congressional candidate to host an entirely Spanish speaking town hall. There is, however, something he accomplished that wasn’t a first! As Mayor he has replaced the last coal plant in Western Massachusetts with the Commonwealth’s largest solar field, putting Holyoke on track towards 100% renewable energy. Alex actively supports the Green New Deal and is endorsed by the Sunrise Movement, as well as 350 Action.

In CD-4 ORMA is proud to endorse Ihssane Leckey, who was the only one of the nine Democratic candidates to begin running for the post before Joe Kennedy dropped his reelection bid to go after Ed Markey’s US Senate seat. A native of Morocco, where her father was a school teacher and her mother was a farmer, she immigrated to the US at the age of 20, and worked minimum wage jobs while putting herself through community college; she then got a “Women in Math” scholarship to Boston University. That led her to a job at the Federal Reserve, where she worked to hold the largest financial institutions accountable and protect our economy — and the working families of our country — from another economic crisis. Her experiences as a Wall Street regulator convinced her to run for Congress, advocating for a family-first governing agenda with a just economy and a peace-oriented national defense.

In CD-8, Robbie Goldstein has received ORMA’s enthusiastic endorsement as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Robbie is a Boston area physician who sees patients every day who struggle to get the care they need. His experience has shown him the necessity for single-payer healthcare as a way to control costs and eliminate the barriers to care that so many people face. As a physician, he also sees first-hand how structural racism serves as a barrier to his patients of color, and is committed to work urgently to address police brutality and to create healthcare, economic, and criminal legal systems that put equity at the center of every piece of legislation. Robbie is a staunch supporter of the Green New Deal, and has received a Gun Sense Candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action.

In State Legislature races, ORMA is excited to endorse Damali Vidot for Representative of 2nd Suffolk. She will bring to the State Legislature personal knowledge of the challenges and pain experienced by people in communities that have been the hardest hit by Covid-19, economic recession, and long-standing racist and anti-immigrant policies. Damali is a leader on the Chelsea City Council; adding her voice to Beacon Hill will amplify the call for social justice. Damali made her way up from the streets before becoming involved in local political action. After seeing her property taxes rise and development projects initiated without any attempts at community engagement, Damali led her neighbors in organizing a push for greater transparency from City Hall and greater community input in decision-making. She is a major force fighting for affordable housing in Greater Boston including the expansion of social housing. As she says, “My run for state representative has never been about me. It has always been about building our collective power.”

ORMA has enthusiastically endorsed Erika Uyterhoeven, who is running for State Representative of the 27th Middlesex in Somerville. Erika pledged to fight for a government that works for the many, not the few. As an organizer, an antitrust economist, a democratic socialist, and a proud daughter of a single mother, Erika understands both the struggles working people face and the mechanisms by which corporations take control of our government to rig the rules in their favor. Erika’s top priorities are: housing justice, because safe, stable housing is a human right; stopping the displacement of working and middle-class residents; a Massachusetts Green New Deal, because a healthy planet is key to a healthy future for our children; fully funded public education from pre-K to college because every person deserves high quality education; and immigration reform, because no one should live in fear, regardless of immigration status. In 2018, she co-founded Act on Mass, a group dedicated to organizing voters to hold the State House accountable. Currently, State representatives do not have to report how they vote, in committee or on the floor. Votes are not recorded unless 16 representatives at-once ask to have a vote recorded. Act on Mass proposes to have candidates pledge to announce all votes – and she hopes this pledge will make a difference. “We need our representatives to tell us how they vote – how else are voters supposed to respond and hold reps accountable?” Uyterhoeven said. “Tell me a job where you have not had to report to somebody how you did? Voting is how you report back to your bosses, which in the case of state reps are the 40,000 constituents.”

In Governor’s Council District 6, ORMA enthusiastically endorsed Helina Fontes. Governor’s Council provides advice and consent on gubernatorial appointments, pardons and commutations, and warrants for the state treasury. Helina is a mental health recovery program administrator, a community organizer, and a woman of color, who has seen first-hand the devastating impacts that incarceration has, including enduring the pain of the incarceration of her own son. Helina believes people in mental health distress sent to jails and prisons could have been more effectively and inexpensively served by community based mental health treatment programs. Helina will add racial and socio-economic diversity to a council where there currently is none. Governor Baker, and the Republican PACs he directs, has endorsed Helina’s Democratic opponent in this race.

Photo of Helina Fontes and Rep. Mike Connolly

Helina Fontes with Rep. Mike Connolly, Cambridge MA.

In Helina’s words: “I am running for the Massachusetts Governor’s Council District 6 seat because I see the unique opportunity this council provides in reshaping the Massachusetts judicial system, for the better. Too many of our prisons contain non-violent individuals in need of mental health care, or who simply cannot afford to pay the lofty bails set for them. Poverty should not be penalized, nor should individuals in need of mental health care or experiencing intellectual challenges be punished. We can and must do better!” To see the towns and cities in CD-6’s Governor’s Councilor’s District, visit Massachusetts Governor’s Councillor Districts and scroll down to “Sixth Councillor District”.
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ORMA Priorities and News

Report from ORMA’s August Virtual Summit

More than 70 ORMA activists joined together in this month’s working leadership summit focused on ORMA endorsed candidates, the September 1 primary, and breakout groups around ORMA’s five 2020 priorities. We had met three of the endorsees, Markey and US Congress candidates Morse and Goldstein, at previous summits. Today we met Ihssane Leckey, running for Congress in CD-4, and three exciting down-ballot candidates, Helina Fontes running for Governor’s Council, and Damali Vidot and Erica Uyterhoeven running for state rep. The personal stories of the four candidates and their motivations for seeking office were inspirational in affirming the power of our movement to build from the bottom up.
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The breakout groups had less time than had been hoped for; we mostly only had time for introductions and preliminary plans for getting together. Reports below.

Reports on the Working Groups:

Elections Working Group

We discussed the various election work we were all engaged in for the primary and decided to wait until after the primary to begin biweekly meetings. Contact Kathy Watkins, OR Cambridge, to be on the list for the meetings.

Green New Deal Working Group

This breakout constituted the fourth gathering of ORMA members to discuss our opportunities to focus on this priority. As in our previous meetings, we had new participants and so most of our limited time was devoted to introductions. The facilitators also reviewed the lobbying work done by ORMA members in support of the 2050 Roadmap and Climate Justice being considered in the State House, and some additional opportunities to focus on the financial institutions that underwrite fossil fuel extraction, like BlackRock.

To learn more about our efforts, sign up to join us at our bi-weekly meetings. The next meeting takes place this Wednesday, September 2, at 7:30 pm.

Money Out of Politics Working Group

The Massachusetts Citizens Commission is holding a press conference in September to unveil their second report. This will aid our advocacy work in the State House to pass the We The People Act (S.2163 & H.3208). Wolf-PAC is hosting their annual Warrior Workshop on September 25, 26 and 27. Sign up with Wolf-PAC today to get updates and reminders.

End Systemic Racism Working Group

In this second meeting, as in the first, we exchanged personal experiences in confronting systemic racism. We have variously been engaged in struggles about schools, police departments and housing. The challenge may be to find a form of group activity that aids the local struggles that we are engaged in. Notably, there is no state-wide organization, let alone national, that is leading this struggle. Black Lives Matter is often the local leading organization but each BLM is united with others in ideology and not organization. We will plan a follow-up meeting.

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Medicare for All Working Group

Met and discussed the upcoming election and status of M4A in Massachusetts.

We are planning another summit on October 11th. More details and sign-up information expected shortly.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Endorses Morse in CD-1

In CD-1 the race between Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and Rep. Richard Neal took an interesting turn when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went against her fellow congressional colleague Neal and endorsed his challenger Alex Morse.

Her endorsement, according to the New York Times, gave a “significant lift” to Morse’s campaign. Morse is quoted as saying he was “honored to have the congresswoman in his corner, and that it would be the honor of his life to bring the people alongside him to Washington.”

Morse has a substantial grassroots activist base and the endorsements of ORMA, Progressive Democrats, Peace Action, Brand New Congress, the Mass Nurses Association, and many more. ORMA co-chair Henry Wortis said the following about the race and the importance of voting: “This would be a tremendous win for the progressive movement.… Now is the time to show our strength. And one way to do so is GOTV for Alex and win.”

As with many others across the State it will likely be a close race! Keep an eye on the upcoming results–which may not be fully released until all the mail in ballots are counted.


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ORMA Book Club Taking Off: Dates for Meetings

A message from ORMA member Jennifer Chute:

Due to popular demand, we have scheduled more zoom meeting discussions for The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander! Here are the dates and the chapters we will be discussing. Please email Jennifer at chutejennifer@gmail.com for the Zoom links.

  • September 14 at 6:30pm – The Introduction and Chapter 1
  • September 21 at 6:30pm – Chapters 2 and 3
  • September 28 at 6:30pm – Chapter 4 and 5
  • October 5 at 6:30pm – Chapter 6

Thanks and join us!


Our Revolution Greater Fall River met on August 13 and had a small backyard cookout attended by ORMA-endorsed CD-4 candidate Ihssane Leckey

Affiliates active via Zoom meetings, protests, and getting out the vote.

Across the Commonwealth affiliates have been busy. From holding many Zoom meetings, to getting out the vote while wearing face masks for Alex Morse in Greenfield led by the ORMA group Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, to backyard parties with candidates and great food in Fall River. We thank you all for your tireless efforts and hope reform is on the way — starting with the Democratic Primary! Keep us posted on your upcoming events and what you have accomplished locally.

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Greater Fall River Conducts Backyard “Meet the Candidates” forum for CD-4.

In Fall River, both the Our Revolution affiliate and the Ward 8 Democratic Ward Committee had a party with candidates for CD-4.

In Fall River, both the Our Revolution affiliate and the Ward 8 Democratic Ward Committee, which share a number of members, had backyard parties that centered around the candidates for US Congress. First ORGFR met on August 13 and had a small cookout in a backyard, attended by ORMA-endorsed CD4 candidate Ihssane Leckey. Then on the 26th the Ward 8 committee, which had met all 11 original Democratic candidates via Zoom in April and May, had a cookout where all the candidates were invited and 4 attended. It was a fabulous party. Four candidates from the leafy suburbs spent two hours informally chatting with local voters. Actually the candidates enjoyed not just meeting the voters but also meeting each other; they have apparently spent the last several months having Zoom forums where they were never in the same place. For the record, the campaigns brought 50 smashingly good smoked chicken wings and extraordinary chocolates from Athan’s of Brookline. If most of us had not already voted, that would probably have swayed a vote or two. The party didn’t break up till 9pm, when the solar lights over the picnic table flickered out.

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The Revolution Continues Across New England

Across state lines there are primaries coming up as well. For instance in Rhode Island, the primary is a week after MA on September 8. In Rhode Island, State Senate District 18, which is on the MA border in East Providence, near Fall River, has a race we want to highlight.

Cynthia Mendes is taking on incumbent Democrat William Conley by running on a progressive platform inspired by Bernie Sanders’ ideas and reflecting ORMA’s priorities such as Medicare for All, Green New Deal, affordable housing, and taking money out of politics. She is also supporting the local movement “Keeping Metacomet Green” which is trying to stop the development of a public golf course in East Providence; her opponent is the lawyer representing the developers. It is a close race and if you are interested in getting involved here is a link for volunteering and phone banking,to make a financial contribution via Act Blue; for more info about her, check out her website
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Ways to get involved with ORMA. Join us!

Interested in joining Our Revolution Massachusetts? Find a group near you on ORMA’s join the ORMA Facebook group to stay connected.

Interested in working on ORMA’s priorities? Our members have spoken and we have established 5 top priorities for the rest of 2020. To implement these priorities we need participation in Working Groups that will concentrate on each one. Please choose one or more groups you want to be a part of: sign up to get involved.

The 5 priorities: Advocate for the Green New Deal, Work to Defeat Structural Racism, Advocate for and pass Medicare for All, Eliminate the influence of money in politics, and the 2020 elections (local, state, and Federal)

If you sign up, you will be contacted by a member already engaged in each area, or by a representative of our Political Action and Civic Engagement committee to answer questions and help connect you with others interested in the same work.

We are mindful that many members already are involved in other organizations working on these same issues. ORMA feels strongly that often our most valuable work can be to lift up and amplify the work of allied organizations. If you are one of these folks we would especially value your participation in our working groups.

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Please check your email from your local affiliate for details.

ORMA affiliates are holding meetings online, checking in on each other, and staying in touch via online resources across our state. Please check your email for more details.

Affiliates please submit your photos to the newsletter editors if you want your photos/stories of organizing to be featured in future newsletters.
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ORMA Readers Corner

The New Jim Crow – bookcover

Here is our monthly book recommended by ORMA members!

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. This book has turned into a new age classic addressing the criminal justice system and systemic racism, especially how the two fit together. It has already had lasting effect on public discourse on the topic. This book is being featured as the first book in the newly organized ORMA book club–see details above on joining if you missed it.

Please send your reading recommendations to the ORMA newsletter volunteers who write this newsletter! We would love to hear from you.

We want to hear from you!

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Uninspiring quote of the month: Stated by the Hampshire Gazette. “A big issue that divides the candidates is their stances on the Green New Deal, the landmark proposal to tackle climate change and economic inequality. Morse backs the Green New Deal, whereas Neal is the only member of the state’s congressional delegation not to sign on in support.”

Inspiring quote of the month: “Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls” – Peggy Noonan

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