By David Hatch
What does it mean to move “from protest to power?” That’s the question People’s Action members like me asked at our national convention in Washington, D.C. two years ago. At that time, just a few months into the Trump administration, 72 grassroots leaders out of the more than twelve hundred gathered there took a pledge to take action by running for public office.
Many of these activists – and even more from our network across the country – have now made good on these commitments. They are part of the #PeoplesWave of officials we have helped elect. In all, 300 candidates endorsed by People’s Action got elected in midterm and municipal elections, and 150 of these are movement activists who rose up from the ranks of our own member organizations.
“On election night I didn’t win, WE won!” said Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin’s newly elected State Treasurer, when she spoke to a gathering of these newly minted electeds last month, as People’s Action members gathered once again in D.C.
At this year’s convention, these leaders celebrated their victories and began to dig in on what it means to move from protest on the outside of government to power on its inside, and importantly, linking the two together.
Sarah had never considered running for office, but as a longtime member of Citizen Action of Wisconsin (CAWI), she was part of the fight in April of 2018 to save the State Treasurer’s office from former governor Scott Walker’s attempt to dissolve the office so he could put the state’s finances under his own control, to eliminate oversight.
Sarah and CAWI won that fight, and when no people’s candidate stepped forward to run for State Treasurer, Sarah put herself in the ring. Sarah has a financial and government background – she co-founded a socially conscious investment fund after working for the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense.
Now, as Wisconsin’s Treasurer, Godlewski has followed through on her commitment to co-govern. She regularly appears on CAWI’s weekly podcasts, and has jointly organized events to build community awareness about the ways she’s using the State Treasurer’s office to lower interest payments on student loans and to solve difficult public pension issues.More ...