Dallas Area Interfaith Targets Districts, Boosts Voter Turnout, Makes Change

[Excerpt below]

Rinaldi's district in northwest Dallas County was one of five targeted by Dallas-Area Interfaith, a group that organized canvassing and phone banks to pump up voter turnout.

At an election night watch party at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dallas, a television report flashed on the screen and showed that Rinaldi was losing. Lily Rodriguez (in photo at right) shouted out: “Why don’t you call immigration now?”

Rodriguez said she had quietly fumed when Rinaldi called ICE on protesters, but took action and began pushing parishioners at another Catholic church to vote.

She’d talked to them about the size of the Hispanic population, which in Dallas County is 40 percent and larger than any other group. “Hispanics are the majority and we continue to think like minorities,” Rodriguez said.

Interfaith organizer Socorro Perales said members were determined to get more people to the polls. Two weeks before polling began, the nonpartisan group held a community event at a church that brought in 2,000 people and five candidates, all Democrats.

“They are learning to organize, strategize, and this actually works,” Perales said.

All five candidates won, including Colin Allred, the Democrat who beat Republican incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions, a staunch ally of Trump, in the District 32 race for Congress.

Perales said she didn’t go after the low hanging fruit — those registered who had previously voted. Instead, she sifted through lists of registered voters who didn’t vote in the last election.

“They are just not used to voting,” Perales said. “There are enough registered voters and, if we can broaden the base, we can win. And we did.”

[Photo Credit: Ashley Landis, Dallas Morning News]

Latinos Could Turn Texas Blue in 2020 if Enthusiasm Holds, Some Say, Dallas Morning News [pdf]


Texas IAF Targets Suburban Voters around Key State Races, Local Agendas

In a move to boost voter turnout among neglected communities, Texas IAF organizations reached into suburbs surrounding Texas’ largest cities to assemble by the thousands in political, nonpartisan assemblies to help leaders wrest commitments from candidates for state and federal office. Having witnessed candidate responses to locally-developed agendas, which span from local control to Texas school finance and federal immigration reform, leaders are now mobilizing their neighbors to Get Out The Vote.

In North Dallas, for example, two thousand DAI leaders -- many from Carrollton and Farmers Branch -- invited candidates for House Districts 114, 115, 105 and 107, and Congressional District 32, to commit to investing public funds in local labor market intermediaries, crafting immigration reform that would end the separation of children from their parents at the border (and include protections for DACA youth), cracking down on predatory lending, and repealing Senate Bill 4. Hundreds more from Austin and Hayes County challenged candidates for US Congressional Districts 25 and 21, and State House Districts 47, 45 and 136 to publicly pledge support for similar priorities, including the defense of local control over municipal housing and labor policy. In Helotes, just outside of San Antonio, COPS / Metro leaders carted out boxes with thousands of postcard pledges by voters to participate in the election of US Representative for Congressional District 23, which extends to the outskirts of El Paso, and State Representative for House Districts 117 and 118. In Houston, TMO organized assemblies with candidates for US Congressional District 7 and 29; House Districts 144, 133, and 135; and Senate District 17.

Already, unpaid armies of organizational leaders have knocked on thousands of doors and called thousands more to remind supporters and voters to participate in the midterm elections. Last weekend, for example, Austin Interfaith leaders knocked on doors in three counties, four legislative districts and 2 congressional districts. This weekend, all Texas IAF organizations are making a final push -- from the pews, inside health clinics and in long-neglected neighborhoods -- to ensure the highest turnout possible in support of their agenda.

Leaders understand that targeted voter engagement efforts following accountability assemblies help advance their agenda. This year alone, local Texas IAF organizations succeeded in raising municipal wage floors in San Antonio and Austin to $15 per hour; leveraging the support of Chief of Police Art Acevedo to make Houston the first city in Texas to support a gun safety strategy; and preventing unnecessary deportations through widespread adoption of identification cards generated by parishes within the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

Texas’ Minority GOP Voters: Republican Allies Have Vanished, McClatchy

Activist Groups COPS and Metro Alliance Spreading Message to the Suburbs, WOAI

Austin Interfaith Hosts Large Gathering of 2018 Midterms Election Candidates, KVUE

Candidates Share Platform at Assembly, Austin American Statesman

Why Dallas Republicans Skipped an Interfaith Forum, Rewire.News

To Help Immigrants Feel Safer Around Police, Some Churches Start Issuing IDs, NPR

DAI Accountability Forum [Video]


Working Together Jackson Leaders Call for End to Hate, Anti-Semitism

[Excerpts below]

Faith leaders gathered Monday at the Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson to call for the end to hate in the wake of Saturday’s massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Jewish, Islamic and Christian leaders prayed for tolerance in the same synagogue that members of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi bombed in 1967....

“Although this horrific attack did not take place in Mississippi, we understand that Mississippi is not far from the history where terror was used to incite fear and where people were murdered because of their differences,” Working Together Jackson said in a statement....

At the Beth Israel gathering, Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church of Jackson said he was here to “let this city know that we stand with our brothers and sisters.”

If anyone comes after the Jewish community, “you won’t just come after this congregation, you will come after all of us,” he said. He declared, “We Stand Together.”

The crowd joined him in the chant, and he told them, “we’re going to overcome every horrible, demonic circumstance that comes forward.”

After Synagogue Shooting, Mississippi Leaders Call For End to Hate, Anti-SemitismClarion-Ledger


2,000 DAI Leaders Descend on Hottest State, Congressional Races in Texas

On Sunday, October 14th 2,000 leaders and parishioners from Dallas Area Interfaith assembled at the Christian Chapel Temple of Faith to challenge candidates from the Texas Tribune’s 2018 Hotlist, including Texas House Districts 105, 107, 114, and 115, and US Congressional District 32. Republican and Democratic candidates for Coppell, Richardson, and Dallas Independent School District School Board positions also participated.

At the assembly, DAI leaders publicly challenged each candidate to, if elected, commit to working with them on immigration, job training, expansion of healthcare, payday lending, and public education. All participating candidates, including local Republican candidates, publicly committed to partner with DAI leaders in supporting and / or crafting policy in these areas.  One journalist reported that “in a city that’s sharply segregated by race and class, the forum was a rare example of cohesive pluralism.”

The assembly and Get Out The Vote actions are the culmination of a two-year campaign on behalf of the families and communities of Dallas. Less than a year ago, DAI leaders successfully negotiated with Police officers of the cities of Dallas, Farmers Branch, and Carrollton to accept Catholic Parishes ID’s as a form of identification. For immigrant families, having a photo ID could help prevent deportation. Since then, the parish ID strategy spread to the East Coast through DAI’s sister organization in Baltimore, BUILD. Leaders from BUILD testified at the October 14th assembly that Baltimore police officers have committed to accepting the IDs as a valid form of identification.

Since then, leaders have pushed forward with parish-based Get Out The Vote walks across the Dallas area, knocking on hundreds of doors so far and contacting thousands of voters by phone. DAI has also partnered with the business community in a joint press conference to encourage voters to participate in the midterm elections.

DAI Accountability Voter Forum [video]

Texas' Minority GOP Voters: Republican Allies Have Vanished, McClatchy

Why Dallas Republicans Skipped an Interfaith Forum, Rewire.News

Archdiocese of Baltimore Will Offer ‘Parish ID’ to Immigrants and Others Who Have Trouble Obtaining Legal ID, Washington Post

To Help Immigrants Feel Safer Around Police, Some Churches Start Issuing IDs, NPR

Texas 2018 Hotlist: The Most Competitive Races in Texas’ Midterm Election, Texas Tribune

From Levi’s to Southwest Airlines to Walmart, Business Tries to Turn Out The Vote, Dallas Morning News


COPS / Metro Fights for Children's Playground at Beacon Hill Academy

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Victoria Cavazos, of Communities Organized for Public Service Metro Alliance, has a daughter in kindergarten at Beacon Hill Academy. Cavazos said the old building is not only cutting into the children's green space, but as of April, the children haven't been allowed to use the playground.

"The district had an assessment done of the building, and because of the hazard of the building, they put a fence around, not only the perimeter of the building, but it also includes the playground," Cavazos said.

SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district has no need for the building and it would be extremely expensive to restore. In fact, the district has requested a demolition permit from the city.

"We'd really like to demolish the building to give children the space that they deserve," Cavazos said.

"We've worked with a lot of different people and a lot of groups to try and get that money," said Michelle Ricondo, of COPS Metro Alliance. "But no one has come forward with the money to renovate the building."

SAISD, City At Odds Over Fate of Old Elementary School, KSAT [pdf]


Valley Interfaith Fights for Drainage Bond to Prevent Future Flood Damage in Las Milpas

After summer floods in Hidalgo County left countless homes destroyed and neighborhoods damaged, Valley Interfaith leaders researched a $190 million bond proposal to upgrade Hidalgo County’s drainage system.  Leaders were soon angered to discover that almost no funding was planned to be allocated for the poorest neighborhoods of Hidalgo.  “Never before has Las Milpas received money to improve the drainage in this community from Hidalgo County,” said Valley Interfaith leader Eddie Anaya. 

Valley Interfaith quickly mobilized, reaching out to their elected officials and ultimately negotiating upwards of $15 million in drainage work in South Pharr and $1 million dollars for South McAllen -- not originally in the bond proposal.

[Our neighborhoods] “stand to receive an unprecedented $15 million that will improve the drainage in South Pharr. We sat down with Commissioner Cantú and expressed our community’s concerns about the original design. He listened, and we like the changes.”

Valley Interfaith Endorses Drainage Proposition, The Monitor [pdf]

Community Groups Urge 'Yes' Vote on $190 Million Bond Election, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]

 


500 NCG Leaders Leverage Bipartisan Commitments from 13 Candidates

On a dark Wednesday evening, 500 leaders from Nevadans for the Common Good lit up the gym at West Prep Academy and assembled to secure commitments from federal, gubernatorial, and state candidates at a nonpartisan accountability assembly at West Prep Academy. 

With pressure from leaders, candidates committed to work with NCG to increase affordable housing units, invest in public education, increase funding for FQHCs, protect Medicaid expansion, shine a light upon delays in the citizenship process, and create a database to protect consumers from predatory payday lending.

During the forum, leaders shared their personal experiences including on healthcare.  NCG leader Taj Ainlay testified that qualifying for Medicaid enabled him to see a doctor “for the first time in seven years.”  Agatha Ramirez shared that it took her five months to become a US citizen and that it had taken her brother-in-law nineteen months and counting.

Among the candidates who attended were gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak (D), senatorial candidate Jacky Rosen (D), congressional candidates Steven Horsford (D), Susie Lee (D), Danny Tarkanian (R), and Representative Dina Titus (D).

Candidates Asked Views on Pressing Issues at Las Vegas Forum, Las Vegas Review-Journal [pdf]

Tarkanian, Lee Sole Congressional Opponents at Wide-Ranging Candidates Forum, Las Vegas Sun [pdf]

After 2017 Shortcomings, Advocates Prepare to Push for New Consumer Protections on Payday Loans, Nevada Independent [pdf]


'Nevadans for the Common Good' Lays Groundwork for Payday Lending Fight

[Excerpt below]

“They didn’t read the contract, they didn’t understand or whatever. But just from a Christian standpoint, that what’s Jesus came to do, to help the lowly,” Robin Collins from Green Valley United Methodist Church said. “He came to help the sick, He didn’t come to help the well. So we’re supposed to take care of our brothers and sisters, take care of a widow, take care of an orphan.”

Members of the payday lending industry say they are unfairly stigmatized and provide much-needed access to quick credit that traditional banks or lending institutions do not. Their arguments are bolstered by dozens of lobbyists and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to top candidates.

Still, it’s been more than a decade since the last substantial changes to consumer protection laws on high-interest loans, and advocates — primarily general welfare groups like the Legal Aid of Southern Nevada, a cadre of progressive organizations and the faith-based coalition Nevadans for the Common Good — are looking to the 2019 Legislature as a chance to push for new consumer protections and limits on high-interest lenders.

[Photo Credit: David Calvert, Nevada Independent]

After 2017 Shortcomings, Advocates Prepare to Push for New Consumer Protections on Payday Loans, Nevada Independent


COPS/Metro Expands Into the Suburbs, Targets Congressional and Legislative Races

[Excerpt below]

[COPS / Metro Alliance] hosted a town hall at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Helotes, and invited Republican and Democrat incumbents and challengers for state and Congressional offices that represent West Bexar County and San Antonio’s south and west sides to attend and publicly state their positions on four issues: restoring Texas public school funding; immigration reform; reining in the “payday lending” industry; and increasing job training and re-training programs for displaced workers and in historically under-served areas....

Mendoza says COPS/Metro Alliance decided to become active in more conservative, affluent suburban communities outside the city's inner and outer freeway loops because emerging economic and social challenges are not defined by geography or political affiliation.

With the 2018 midterm elections less than three weeks away, COPS/Metro Alliance today launches a get-out-the-vote phone banking and canvassing initiative....

[Photo by Morgan Montalvo, WOAI]

COPS and Metro Alliance Spreading Message to the Suburbs, WOAI Radio[pdf]


AMOS Fights for 'Housing First' in Ames

In an effort to address key determinants to homelessness, 100 AMOS leaders assembled in Ames with candidates for state and county office to secure commitments around their agenda.  Candidates who participated included Story county Supervisor Rick Sanders (incumbent), Linda Murken, and Josh Opperman.  Also in attendance was Representative Lisa Heddens, from Iowa House District 46.

Leaders succeeded in gaining commitments from the Supervisor to work with AMOS to create a 'Housing First' program in Story County to address the needs of residents with chronic mental illness and housing insecurity, including dedicated county staff-time and resources to the planning effort.  Rep. Heddens committed to working to increase funding for mental health services in the upcoming legislative session.

Link to Video



West / Southwest IAF Organizations

Northwest IAF Organizations