The Future of the Left/Independent Electoral Action Conference

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Future of the Left/Independent Electoral Action was held May 2-3 2015 Teamster City (300 S. Ashland) Chicago IL 60607.

Challenges and successes of breaking through the two-party stranglehold

  • Framing and overview of and Two-party system (Lance Selfa, chair)
  • Socialist Party and Progressive Party Mark Lause)
  • Electoral Politics and Black Liberation (Kali Akuno)

Recent campaigns and electoral models

  • Hawkins/Jones campaign (challenging Cuomo & building Green Party)- Howie Hawkins

A. Movement roundtable: Black Lives Matter and the Democrats

Kali Akuno (chair), Darletta Scruggs, Teddy Shibabaw, Rosa Clemente, Kymone Freeman, Amara Enyia (invited)

B. Lessons of the Past, Hopes for the Future

Chris Poulos (Session manager and timekeeper)

B1. Roundtable on Experiences and legacy of the 1960’s and ‘70s

John Reiger (Peace and Freedom, chair), Bruce Dixon (Black Panther Party), Guy Miller (SWP Election Campaigns,) Adrian Boutureira (La Raza Unida Party)

B2 . "A New Party for the 99 Percent?"

Presentations by Jonathan Martin, and John Halle

A. Perspectives Talks Running for local non-partisan offices

Mike Parker (Richmond Progressive Alliance), Susan Sadlowski Garza (Chicago 10th Ward Alderman, invited), Rebecca Kemble (Chair)

B. Movement Roundtable: The Fight for 15 and Electoral Politics

Darletta Scruggs, Trish Kahle, and other activists/ organizers

A. International panel

Presentations and discussion on the international situation including Greece (SYRIZA; Alan Akrivou), Spanish State (PODEMOS; Sascha Nemseff Villagran), Brazil (PSOL) plus international greetings Co-chairs/ moderators: Joanna Misnik and Dan La Botz

B. Election Skills Workshops:

Fundraising for the 99% with Ty Moore and Bryan Koulouris

Reaching Our Base/Stealing Their Base: Field Operations and Voter Registration." with Bruce Dixon

Elections, Labor and the Social Movements: Why we need Independent Political Campaigns

Kshama Sawant (greetings), Tim Meegan, Angela Walker, Jorge Mujica. Jill Stein, Bruce Dixon, Rosa Clemente, Gayle McLaughlin (chair)

How do do you get political independence? An exchange of views regarding strategy and tactics

Mike Parker, Bruce Dixon, Amisha Patel, Corey Decker, Todd Chretien (chair)

A. Barriers to building third-party campaigns at the state and national level:

A roundtable discussion on ballot access, inclusion in debates, etc.

Debra Reiger, Chair and discussant(California), John Andrews (Presidential Debates Lawsuit and ballot & media access), Mike Rubin (Top two in California and Rubin v. Bowen), August Leppelmeier (overview of legal barriers), Linda Thompson (Need for a National campaign for democratic elections)

B. You’re elected! So now what? (roundtable discussion on challenges once in office)

Marsha Rummel (Madison), Gayle McLaughlin (Richmond, CA), Jeremy Hansen, (Kali Akuno (Jackson, MS), Cam Gordon (invited) Moderators: Emily Pope-Obeda and Matt Luskin

2016 and Beyond: Building a Network for Left Electoral Cooperation

Call to the conference

From impending climate catastrophe to the renewed assault on working class living standards, we don't have time to waste on the status quo, lesser evils, and token reforms. The richest 1% may own the two major parties, but the past year has seen an uptick in left electoral activity.
From Kshama Sawant’s election as an open socialist on the Seattle City Council to the numerous other socialist and independent left campaigns in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere throughout Fall 2014 and Spring 2015, interest in a working class alternative is growing. However, in order to really begin building a viable electoral alternative, we first need to forge unity between our disparate campaigns. Those of us struggling to build a left pole in the electoral arena have much to learn from one another. Therefore we propose a gathering of candidates, individuals, and organizations committed to a left political alliance in opposition to the two-party system ofcorporate-capitalist rule.

What we propose:

1. A dialogue for those who are committed to left politics outside of the two-party system

2. To discuss the “why” goals

3. To share experiences and reflections of campaigning

4. To share challenges after being elected to office and strategies for opening political space for social movements

Aims and Objectives:

1. To promote independent political action

2. To build cooperation among disparate movements, candidates, left/progressive parties

3. To develop and adopt a means for continued networking, conversation and cooperation after the conference


1. To gather experienced candidates

2. To intersect a broad range of non-sectarian left-independent organizers

3. To have respectful discussion on strategies and tactics

4. To seek representation from people of color, youth, women, LGBTQ, and disability activists

5. To include a mix of theoretical panels, inspirational talks, and practical workshops

Endorsers of this conference as of April 27, 2015 include:

Gayle McLaughlin+ (Richmond City Council; former Mayor, Richmond CA, Richmond Progressive Alliance); Tim Meegan (2015 Independent candidate for alderman, 33rd ward, Chicago), Bruce Dixon (Managing editor, Black Agenda Report and co-chair of the Georgia Green Party), Kshama Sawant + (Seattle City Council, Socialist Alternative), Howie Hawkins (Candidate for Governor of New York , Green Party*), Jorge Mujica (2015 Socialist candidate for alderman, 25th ward , Chicago), Ellen David Friedman (Vermont Progressive Party*), Dan La Botz (Co-founder Teamsters for a Democratic Union; Editor, New Politics; Socialist Party USA* Candidate for U.S. Senate, OH 2010), Mike Parker (Co- author Democracy is Power; Coordinator, Richmond Progressive Alliance*), Gloria Mattera (Co-Chair, Green Party of New York*), Eduardo Martinez + (Richmond City Council, Richmond Progressive Alliance), Lance Selfa (author of The Democrats: A Critical History), Bhaskar Sunkara (editor of Jacobin), Angela Walker (Candidate for Milwaukee Sheriff, 2014), Kali Akuno (Cooperation Jackson*, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement*), Jess Spear (Climate scientist and 2014 Socialist Alternative candidate for Washington State House); Jovanka Beckles + (Richmond City Council, Richmond Progressive Alliance), Cindy Sheehan (Anti-war activist, 2012 vice-presidential candidate, 2012, Peace and Freedom Party*), Rosa Clemente (Hip hop activist, Vice-Presidential Candidate, 2008, Green Party*), Jill Stein (Presidential Candidate, 2012, Green Party *), David McReynolds (Socialist Party USA* candidate for President 1980, 2000), Glen Ford (Journalist, Black Agenda Report), Marsha Rummel+ (Madison WI Common Council. Progressive Dane*), Ty Moore (Socialist Alternative candidate for Minneapolis City Council, 2003), David Doonan+ (Mayor of Greenwich, NY , Green Party*), Debra Reiger(State Chair, California Peace and Freedom Party), Mimi Soltysik (Socialist Party USA Male Co-Chair, 2014 candidate for CA State Assembly), Joanne Landy (Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Editorial board member, New Politics), Art Kazar (Local Executive Committee Member, Chicago Socialist Party), Robert "Gabe" Gabrielsky (Green Party* candidate, New Jersey Second Congressional District in 2000, for State Assembly in 2001 and for State Senate in 2003) , Ann Menasche (Disability rights activist and attorney, Green Party* candidate for Secretary of State 2011), Jason West + (Mayor of New Paltz, NY, Green Party*), Todd Chretien (International Socialist Organization; Candidate for U.S. Senate CA, 2006), Ian Schlakman (Green Party candidate for Congress MD 2014), Linda Thompson (Co-Chair, Green Party of CT), Margaret Kimberley (Journalist, Black Agenda Report), Bill Onasch (; Previously served on the Labor Party’s Interim National Council and Electoral Policy Commission), Cam Gordon + (Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward, Green Party*), Isa Infante (2014 Candidate for Governor, Green Party of TN), John Halle (Green Party*, previously New Haven Alderman), Nicole Deane (Dan Siegel for Oakland 2014 volunteer coordinator), Carroll Fife (Dan Siegel for Oakland 2014 campaign coordinator), Mike McCallister (Secretary, Wisconsin Green Party), Ellis Boal (Green Party MI*), Steve Early (author and labor journalist), Joanna Misnik (Treasurer, Chicago Socialist Campaign; Solidarity), Bryan Koulouris (Socialist Alternative), Rick Kissell (past candidate for Milwaukee Treasurer, past president of the AFL-CIO Translators' and Interpreters' Guild), Robert Caldwell (Ebarb Tribal Council, Louisiana 2011-2013), Karl Belin (Socialist Alternative), Thomas Harrison (Co-Director Campaign for Peace and Democracy*), John Strinka (Socialist Party USA Male Vice-Chair, 2012 Socialist Party USA candidate for IN House of Representatives), Leon Bailey, Ph.D. (Department of Sociology, Roosevelt University), Ian Swanson (2014 GP MI candidate for the U. of Michigan Board of Regents and International Socialist Organization), Mark A. Lause (Board member, The North Star), Marilyn Langlois (Coordinator, Richmond Progressive Alliance), Kemi Morten (Attorney at Law), Richard Roman (Socialist Project, Toronto), Debby Pope (Chicago Teachers Union*), Larry Duncan (Labor Beat co-producer, CWA 14408*, retired), Russell Saltamontes (writer, political science student , member of Democratic Socialists of America*) Michael Steven Smith (New York author and attorney), Kymore Freeman (#DCFerguson + We Act Radio), Jim Smith (Former elected treasurer/councilmember, Venice Calif.; 2006 candidate for Congress; union activist; author; Peace & Freedom Party), Lenny Brody (Justice Party National Steering Committee), Cheri Honkala (2012 Vice Presidential Candidate of the Green Party*), Brian Jones (Green Party nominee for Lt. Governor of NY, 2014, International Socialist Organization, Isaac Silver (Local School Council, Roosevelt High School, Chicago), Jonathan Nack (*), Luis Rodriguez (2012 Justice Party USA Vice-Presidential Candidate and 2014 Green Party* candidate for Governor of California) , David Keil (Socialist Party USA*, National Antiwar Committee*, and of MetroWest Peace Action-Massachusetts*), Mary Scully (Independent socialist candidate), David McDonald (independent socialist, Seattle WA), August Leppelmeier (Movement of Rank and File Educators*, AFT* Democratic Socialists of America*), Michael Hirsch (labor and politics writer; New Politics editorial board) , Jeremy Hansen (Berlin, VT Selectboard; Vermont Progressive Party*), D'Marie Mulattieri (Independent US House of Representatives in CA District 39 in 2012, Justice Party USA, Americans Organized for Change*), Jason Adams (Co-Director, The New Centre for Research & Practice*), Paul Street (author of They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy, IOPS*, ZNet/TeleSur English), James Dyer (Boling Point radio program on 88.3 WAIF), John Andrews (Green- Rainbow Party*), Bob Simpson (Action Now*, National Writers Union/UAW*) Johny Augustine, Ph.D. (Department of Social Work, St. Ambrose University, Davenport IA), Daniel Benson (Ph.D Candidate Dept. French, NYU*), Alan Steward (Director, Progressive Global Commons*), Emily Pope-Obeda (Tim Meegan campaign volunteer coordinator), Jerry Harris (Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism* ; Global Studies Association of North America*), Kevin Zeese (Co-Director of Popular Resistance*, Green Shadow Cabinet*), Margaret Flowers, M.D. (Co-Director of Popular Resistance*, Physicians for a National Health Program*, Chris Poulos (Tim Meegan campaign volunteer coordinator) Nicholas Limbeck (area rep, Susan Sadlowski-Garza campaign*), Matthew Luskin (United Working Families*), Kristin Combs (2015 Candidate for City Council at-Large, Green Party of Philadelphia), Amara Enyia (former 2015 candidate for Chicago Mayor), Rebecca Kemble + (Madison, WI Common Council), Jonathan Martin (Sociologist, Framingham State University; editor/contributor, forthcoming Empowering Progressive Third Parties book), Maureen Sullivan (2015 independent candidate for Chicago 11th Ward), Manuel Barrera, PhD (Assoc. Prof. Urban Education, Metropolitan State University*, Minneapolis, MN), John P. Connolly (Past National President, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists and Past National Executive Director, Actors’ Equity Association; Member, General Council of the AFL-CIO, 2001-10), Susan Sadlowski Garza (Chicago 10th Ward Alderman, elect*), Steven Welzer (2015 Green Party candidate for New Jersey General Assembly 14th Leg.District East Windsor, NJ), Jim Brash (Green Party candidate for New Jersey's 26TH Legislative District; Co-chair, Green Party of North Jersey*), Jesse Sharkey (Vice President, Chicago Teacher’s Union*)

Names of members of the planning committee

  • Kali Akuno is a founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson (, which is an emerging network of worker cooperatives and supporting institutions. Cooperation Jackson is fighting to create economic democracy by creating a vibrant solidarity economy in Jackson, MS that will help transform Mississippi and the South. Kali Akuno is an organizer, educator, and writer for human rights and social justice. He is an organizer for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) (see and former Co-Director of the US Human Rights Network (see Kali also served as the Executive Director of the Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) based in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. And was a co-founder of the School of Social Justice and Community Development (SSJCD), a public school serving the academic needs of low-income African American and Latino communities in Oakland, California. Kali has authored many articles and pamphlets on how government counterinsurgency, state violence, the drug war, mass incarceration and neoliberalism impact Black communities. Two of his most recent works include, Operation Ghetto Storm: Every 28 Hours report and Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense. Kali served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, MS. His focus was supporting cooperative development, sustainability, human rights and international relations.
  • Adrian Boutureira came to the US in 1973 following the brutal right wing military coup in his native country of Uruguay. He has spent most of his adult life in the US engaged in the struggle for social economic and environmental justice. To this end, he has served several key national organizations as an organizer, popular educator, political analyst and community outreach coordinator. The focus of his work has included racial equality, economic and environmental justice, Latin American liberation struggles, and immigrant, indigenous, labor and human rights. Adrián is presently serving as Campaign Scheduler and Candidate Coordinator for the Jill Stein 2016 Exploratory Campaign.
  • Corey Decker was born in Burlington in 1979, but grew up mainly in both Cambridge and Richmond. Corey graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Johnson State College in 2003. Corey has worked in foodservice, customer service, and at a wholesale tree nursery, before embarking on a career in health care. In 2008 she started working atFAHC, and in 2010 she passed her board exam to become a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist. At FAHC, she was nominated by her colleagues to be the union steward of her department and became actively involved with VFNHP and the Vermont Workers' Center. In 2012 Corey moved to Fletcher. Currently, Corey works for Vermont Early Educators United - AFT, organizing for the rights and recognition of early educators statewide.
  • Robert Caldwell is a former tribal council member for the Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb, Louisiana. He is a former Secretary- Treasurer for GEO/UAW 2322 and currently a member of Texas State Employees Union/ CWA 6186. He is a member of the leadership of Solidarity and was one of the initiators of this conference.
  • Rosa Clemente is a community organizer, freelance journalist and Hip Hop activist. She ran for Green Party Vice President in the 2008 U.S. election. Along with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the pair became the first women of color ticket in American History. Born and raised in South Bronx, NY, Rosa Clemente has been a community organizer and a featured keynote speaker, panelist, and political commentator for over 20 years. Rosa has been the subject of articles in the New York Times, The Nation, The Progressive, The Village Voice, Urban Latino, Essence, Latina, Vibe, The Huffington Post, Alternet, Wiretap, All Hip, Black Agenda Report, The Indypendent,, In These Times and The Source. She is a a frequent contributor on CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, Free Speech TV, On the Real with Chuck D, Street Soldiers, Pacifica Radio, Grit TV with Laura Flanders, teleSUR, HardKnock Radio, The Truth With Jeff Johnson (BET), The Bev Smith Show, The Warren Ballentine Show, Make it Plain with Mark Thompson, WPFW with Dr. Jared Ball, and Democracy Now![1]