Vermont Progressive Party's blog

Vermont Progressive Party Coordinating Committee Meeting 7/8/2015

Vermont Progressive Party Coordinating Committee Meeting 7/8/2015

Meeting was held via teleconference between 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM.


Present: Chair Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Vice-Chair Morgan Daybell, Treasurer Martha Abbot, state Secretary Chris Brimmer, at large Corey Decker, Nancy Potak, Mari Cordes, Adam Norton, Meg Brook and Director Kelly Mangan. Elections Chair Jeremy Hansen joined the call. Absent: Caryn Connolly, Carl Davis


1) Updates on subcommittees. Mari discussed communications committee. New co-chair Mike Kane and new committee members have begun longer term planning; blog discussed but on hold for a website design; Morgan and the committee working on a draft resolution to endorse Sen. Sanders for President by the next state committee meeting. Mari updated on Environmental committee. She is unable to take the lead on convening this group as requested at the last Coco and state committee meeting. Emma/Morgan will work on finding a new chair. Emma updated on forming a labor commission/caucus and tapping into the union movement to take advantage of the increasingly anti-union position of the Democrats this year. VPP also working to meet with NEA & VSEA soon to strengthen our relationships and also follow-up with the AFT.


2) Update on Town/County reorganization. Meeting dates need to be set before September. Coco members are serving as coaches to support town chairs and county chairs follow through. Emma asked all Coco coaches to update Kelly on the status of their areas by 7/24.


3) Update on Sander's presidential campaign. According to our bylaws, Bernie must seek our endorsement in order to start the endorsement process. He won’t be seeking our endorsement, so we should move forward to consider a basic resolution expressing our support. Any effort to support his campaign should not detract from any party or capacity building. Resolution to give support should be ready for September 19th state committee meeting and sent out ahead of time.


4) Financial & fund raising report from Martha; we are about 10% ahead. The number of monthly donors has increased. Working to seek donations from labor unions. An email pitch going out to the people who VPP volunteers canvased at the Bernie kick off event. Also a new effort will begin this summer to seek donations from past one-time donors. Emma asked each Coco member to be prepared to contact 10 former donors to see if they will give again. Plus, add two of your own contacts. Look for more direction via email in July.


5) CoCo attendance. Emma reported to Coco, per our bylaws, that Martha and Emma have both missed either consecutive meetings.  Adam moved to take no action to remove Emma and Martha, second by Morgan, approved by all members voting with Emma and Martha abstaining; Discussion that the bylaw language should change to be clearer about excused absents (ex: maternity leave or schedule conflicts known in advance).


6) 2016 Elections. Jeremy Hansen joined the call. Discussion of Shumlin, do we run a candidate for Gov in 2016? Discussion of who runs and how to finance the staff/support necessary to be successful. Also discussed Lt Gov race and how seats lower on the ballot will be impacted if current elected Progs run for There are Progs who are interested in running and we need to make sure that is clear in the media. Jeremy will convene Elections Committee to discuss the 2016 election and report that date to the CoCo.


7) Motion by Adam to adjourn the meeting, seconded by acclamation, motion approved by acclamation.Meeting concluded at 9:30 PM.


Respectfully submitted by Chris Brimmer, state party secretary

Elected Officials and Candidates Attend Progressive Conference in D.C.

August 8, 2015

Progressive elected officials and 2016 candidates had a busy weekend at the PCCC conference discussing how to bring more progressive policies to #btv! We even saw some fellow Vermonters there from the Democratic Party! Pictured above (left to right), Rep. Chip Troiano (D- East Hardwick), Progressive City Councilor Robert Millar (Winkooski), Progressive City Councilor Selene Colburn (Burlington), forme candidate for Chittenden Co Senate Dawn Ellis, Progressive candidates Sandy Gaffney and Mari Cordes, and Mike McCarthy, the chair of the Franklin Co Democrats.



Vermont Progressive Party Coordinating Committee Meeting 6/6/2015

Vermont Progressive Party Coordinating Committee Meeting 6/6/2015

Vermont Progressive Party office, Burlington VT, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

Present: Chair Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, Vice-Chair Morgan Daybell, Treasurer Martha Abbot, state Secretary 

Chris Brimmer, at large Corey Decker, Caryn Connolly, Nancy Potak, Carl Davis, Meg Brook and Director Kelly 


Guest: Michael Kane, Communications Committee Co-Chair

Absent: Mari Cordes (at large), Adam Norton (at large)


1) Updates/Reports.  

Communications Committee. A major effort to be undertaken to revamp the communications committee and take advantage of the Sanders coattail. Mike and Mari to lead. Social media effort, looking for an out-sized voice. Condensing the platform down to edible bites. Long term goal is communications utility in coming elections, should link with elections committee. Regionally-targeted messaging. Reserve our space for our message. Assist Kelly with handling press releases, blogs and regular website updates. Also looking to overhaul website at some point soon. 


Financial Report. Martha gave a finance report. We are currently projecting a shortfall in funds by the end of June, but have plans to increase revenue. We are actively seeking new donors and the Coco committee will be asked to step up to support the fundraising committee’s efforts this summer. 


Corren lawsuit update. Press release is out and getting airplay on VPR and inches in the Free Press. Plans are to continue pushing out the press release.


Vice Chair Duties and Committees. The Vice chair will oversee committees going forward to check in on their progress. 


2) The Bernie Campaign – Organizing Discussion. 


Discussion questions: 

-How much of our resources to devote, pull people out for NH? Campaign calls? Staff time? NH canvassing? Do we share lists?

-Primary participation?

-How do we incorporate fund-raising for the party?

-September endorsement vote? 

-Managing the Shumlin factor.


-Push out info requests from the Bernie campaign.

-Use to introduce the Vermont Progressive Party out of state.

-Can we get access to his lists?

-Use of town organizing to help Bernie campaign?


Decisions/action items:

*Use Sanders campaign as a Town Organizing tool, encourage county chairs to put this on meeting agendas (if they're interested in doing so).

*Push out info request from campaign.

*Make sure we get credit, promote what we do for the Sanders campaign.

*We will not organize our own canvassing efforts for the Sanders campaign, but will direct our people to them. 

*List sharing (larger lists in our database) only if they ask and then the standard $500 charge will apply. Activist list requests go though the Director and given as a good will gesture, if requested.

*Use lists collected at Bernie related events as a fundraising tool, mail out to donors who are maxing out and concentrate on out of state money, match to Bernie and tie into the connection.

*September endorsement vote; check the bylaw language, VPP electeds need to endorse sooner rather than later. 

*Party statement on Shumlin. Electeds can make individual statements hammering Shumlin on issues between now and September (**Note: Shumlin announced 2 days later he was not seeking re-election).  


3) Reorganization Strategy


-Expectation that we organize currently organized towns and work to find candidates in these districts/towns.

-Organize in towns/districts where we are running a candidate and where there are open seats.

-Organize counties where we want to grow.

-Organize towns with new activists.

-Each Coco will serve as a “coach” to support Kelly/town chairs in pulling off reorganization efforts.

-Use Bernie factor and other local issues to draw people into meetings. 

-Meet minimum requirements in terms of # of towns and counties. 


Additional Discussion:

-Need to think regionally with regional issues.

-State committee members needs to be involved in their town/county reorg efforts.

-Organize all towns in Chitt and Wash Counties

-How will Vermont Worker's Center’s new political action arm/organization and the VT labor communities’ 

candidate school impact our candidate efforts and/or reorg efforts?

-Legislative issues – use them for discussion/organizing issues

-Suggestion: Use environmental theme for NEK meetings

-Suggestion: Use health care theme for Addison County

-Add student centered towns (ie college towns) to list and use issue like student debt to draw participation 

-Think of how to bring in labor into town reorg 


4) Morgan motion to table platform policy amendment and VPP Bylaw and Candidate endorsement items, seconded by Corey and approved by acclamation.


5) Chris motion to adjourn, second by Corey and approved by acclamation.   


Meeting concluded at 2:00 PM.


Respectfully submitted by Chris Brimmer, state party secretary

Central Vermont Organizing Meeting - 6/9/15

On June 9th Progressive legislators and about 30 activists from central Vermont met in Montpelier to discuss the astounding right turn taken by Vermont Democrats this session, as well as how we as working people intend to respond.


Sen. Anthony Pollina (Washington Co) and Rep. Susan Hatch Davis (Orange 1) were there to speak about what did (and didn't) happen in the Statehouse this year... and why! People also discussed Bernie's run for the White House, next steps on Party Reorganization, and what Shumlin's announcement that he will not seek another term as governor means for the Party.

One thing was crystal clear from this meeting... the need for a non-corporate, third party is as desperate now as it's ever been. It sure is a good time to be a Progressive! 


For more information about how to get involved in the Progressive Party in your town, contact VPP's Executive Director Kelly Mangan at kelly [at] 


BURLINGTON, VT— Earlier today Progressive elected officials publicly endorsed Bernie Sanders for President of the United States.

"We’re endorsing Bernie because we fundamentally believe our national debate needs to change,” said Progressive House Caucus Leader Rep. Chris Pearson (Chittenden 6-4).  “Bernie puts the concerns of working families and the serious issue of climate change front and center in that debate. I doubt most Americans have heard a serious political voice like his before: it's refreshing and I think our country is ready for it." 

Sen. Anthony Pollina (Washington Co.) has known and worked with Bernie since the late 1980s, and said he hopes that people around the country will come to know what Vermonters already know about him: "Bernie really means what he says. It's a rare thing to have a politician who's so consistently committed to doing the right thing for people."


What City Councilor Selene Colburn (Burlington - East District) respects most about Bernie is his track record of delivering tangible services to constituents-- like community healthcare support, veterans benefits, and equal-opportunity economic development-- while still addressing “the big-picture needs of working Vermonters.” Colburn got her start in civic engagement more than 30 years ago thanks to Bernie Sanders’ Mayor’s Youth Office, which created opportunities for struggling kids to connect with the larger community. “Without that experience and without the example of his leadership, I wouldn't be serving as a Progressive on Burlington’s City Council today,” she said.

Rep. Susan Hatch Davis (Orange 1) said she is proud to support Bernie for president because he believes in the same things she does: "Bernie stands up for better pay, equal pay, for good union jobs, more affordable housing, and healthcare for all. He will fight to protect Medicare and Social Security. He stands with our Veterans. He doesn't take a dime of corporate money," she said. "He's one of us. And I think I speak for all of us when I say, 'Give 'em hell, Bernie!'"   

The elected Vermont Progressives who have endorsed Bernie for President include:

State Auditor Doug Hoffer (D/P)

Sen. Anthony Pollina (Washington County - P/D)

Sen. David Zuckerman (Chittenden County -P/D) 

Rep. Chris Pearson (Burlington - P) 

Rep. Susan Hatch Davis (Washington - P/D) 

Rep. Mollie Burke (Brattleboro - P/D) 

Rep. Sandy Haas (Rochester - P/D) 

Rep. Diana Gonzalez (Winooski - P/D) 

Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (Middletown Springs - P/D) 

Rep. Amy Sheldon (Middlebury - D/P) 

Burlington CityCouncil Chair Jane Knodell (P) 

Burlington City Councilor Selene Colburn (P) 

Burlington City Councilor Max Tracy (P) 

Burlington City Councilor Sara Giannoni (P) 

Winooski City Councilor Robert Millar (P)

The State Committee of the VPP will vote on presidential endorsements at its next quarterly meeting on September 19th.

Long considered to be the most successful third party in the nation today, the VT Progressive Party works to elect people to state and local office who will promote the interests of working- and middle-class Vermonters, protect the environment, defend democracy from corporate influence, and stand up for civil and human rights for all.

Letter from Rep. Pearson Taking Stock of 2015 Session

Dear Fellow Progressives,

On May 26th I joined thousands of other Vermonters on the Burlington waterfront to wish Bernie Sanders well as he sets off to change the political debate in our country. Vermonters seemed comfortable, even eager, for him to give it a try.

As I reflect on the 2015 legislative session that just finished in Montpelier, I am concerned that our political debate also needs to shift. We are fortunate that Montpelier still functions in a cordial, even friendly manner. And we can take comfort knowing that the debate is respectful. Still, a troubling trend has taken hold that is hard to overcome, even though many of us keep trying.

Of the 150 members of the Vermont House, only 53 are Republicans. Yet that is enough for them to shape the outcome on big issues like how we spend the $4 billion state budget. For years, conservatives have bemoaned the “spending problem” that grips Montpelier. This year, against a backdrop of a hefty budget deficit, the Democrats who control the entire process adopted their cry.

Every year that I’ve served in Montpelier we have been cutting programs.

In fact, as a percentage of the state’s GDP, tax revenue has declined (<>).

The budget has been growing, that is true. And so has the economy (finally). The problem we have in Montpelier, as I see it, is three-fold:

  1. Wages for most Vermonters have barely kept pace with inflation. Nearly all of the growth in income goes to those at the top. These families pay a smaller proportion of taxes than most of us in the middle class. Taken together this creates a challenge for the state’s revenue.
  2. Property taxes are too high and the school governance bill isn’t going to change that (which is why I voted against it).
  3. State health care spending (Medicaid) keeps climbing and eating up all the growth in our state budget. This entitlement program serves low-income Vermonters and between the Federal expansion and stagnant wages there are more people qualifying. It’s good to have people receive the health care they need but it's costly (more on health care reform in a future post).

There were positive aspects of this session, to be sure: Universal college savings accounts is one clear example where a tiny investment will pay off down the road. Finally moving to address our water quality is another bright spot but I fear the bill lacks the enforcement we are going to need. In the House we passed a bill to give more Vermonters the right to earned sick leave. Same-day voter registration is important to a district like ours with a lot of transitional residents. This year's energy bill sets us on a course to see more renewable power that is locally controlled. And, the revenue bill that passed is progressive and includes elements I have pushed for years.

But overall, the adoption of the “spending problem” mantra by Democratic leaders reflects a deep disconnect from the reality that median household income has declined. At a time when too many Vermonters are struggling to make ends meet, the state budget should stimulate job creation, not cut back. Sadly, several of the cuts were in areas that would have stimulated jobs and job growth.

As Vermonters cheer Bernie’s march across Iowa and New Hampshire, I hope we will save a little energy to push our own state government to more accurately reflect the economic reality experienced by most Vermonters. Our attempts to do that in Montpelier this year fell short.


Rep. Chris Pearson (Burlington)

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