Robert Millar

Robert Millar

VERMONT'S ELECTED PROGRESSIVES ENDORSE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT

 JUN. 12 2015, 5:14 PM LEAVE A COMMENT

The Vermont Progressive Party, whose origins date back to Sanders’ surprise victory 34 years ago in the Burlington mayoral race, endorsed Sanders’ bid for the Democratic nomination Friday in a news release.

Fifteen elected officials who ran on the November ballot as Progressives, including State Auditor Doug Hoffer, the only statewide Progressive officeholder, signaled their support for Sanders.

The signatories included state Sens. Anthony Pollina, P/D-Washington, and David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden. Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, was not listed on the news release but he said in an email that he supports Sanders and would make his own announcement.

Pollina said the U.S. needs Sanders’ voice in the race.

“Bernie really means what he says,” Pollina said in the release. “It’s a rare thing to have a politician who’s so consistently committed to doing the right thing for people.”

Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, said Sanders’ views on working families, climate change and other progressive issues should be part of the national 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,” Pearson.

The other elected officials were:

Rep. Susan Hatch Davis; Rep. Mollie Burke; Rep. Sandy Haas; Rep. Diana Gonzalez; Rep. Robin Chesnut¬ Tangerman; Rep. Amy Sheldon; Burlington City Council Chair Jane Knodell; Burlington City Councilor Selene Colburn; Burlington City Councilor Max Tracy; Burlington City Councilor Sara Giannoni; and Winooski City Councilor Robert Millar.

The Progressive Party’s state committee will vote on a presidential endorsement in September.

Originally published in the VTDigger: http://vtdigger.org/2015/06/12/vermonts-elected-progressives-endorse-sanders-for-president/

Progs back Corren, rebuff Bauer for Lt. Gov.

June 2, 2014; Terri Hallenbeck; Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER – As the Progressive Party State Committee met Saturday in the Statehouse cafeteria, two candidates for lieutenant governor stood up and asked for the group’s endorsement.

Both men touted Progressive ideals. Only one of them was a Progressive.

If you thought that might make for a few awkward moments, you would be right. In the end, the non-Progressive was politely but resoundingly rebuffed.

Dean Corren of Burlington and John Bauer of Jeffersonville are both hoping to unseat two-term Republican incumbent Phil Scott.

Corren, a former state legislator, is one of the founders of the Progressive Party and the party’s highest-profile candidate for statewide office. Bauer is an avowed Democrat who probably would have been wise to spend his time Saturday campaigning almost anywhere in Vermont except in front of a roomful of Progressive Party faithful who were passing petitions for Corren.

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Progressives Announce Slate of 21 Candidates

June 1, 2014; Anne Galloway; VTDigger

The Vermont Progressive Party will have four statewide candidates, three incumbent senators and 14 House candidates running for office in the 2014 election.

The Progressive party, one of four state major parties, announced its slate on Saturday — well ahead of the Vermont Democratic Party and the Vermont GOP, and the June 12 filing deadline for candidates. While the Democrats are fielding a preponderance of incumbents, the Republicans have announced some House and Senate candidates, but have yet to declare who will be running for statewide office, including the gubernatorial race. The Vermont Liberty Union Party, which gained major party status in the 2012 election, is also fielding a slate of statewide candidates and a candidate for the House of Representatives, who may be the sole contender for Rep. Peter Welch’s seat.

Progressive Party officials touted the “real growth” in the number of candidates since 2012.

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Progs face staffing change, focusing on leggie races

May 27, 2014; Terri Hallenbeck; Burlington Free Press

It might seem like bad timing for a political party to be losing its executive director and trying to hire an elections director right now, just as the election action is picking up.

“It’s not ideal,” conceded Progressive Party Chairwoman Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, “but we are using this as an opportunity to get focused on next four or five months.

“There’s really no good time,” said Robert Millar, the party’s departing executive director. His last official day as full-time director is June 13, the day after the deadline for Vermont candidates to file petitions for this year’s election.

Millar might be one of those filing a petition, he said. He said he’s thinking of running for a state House seat in the two-seat district that covers Winooski and a wisp of Burlington. Incumbent Democrat George Cross is not running for re-election.

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Will the House balk at holding an earlier primary?

March 31, 2014; Nancy Remsen; Burlington Free Press

Robert Millar, executive director of the Vermont Progressive Party, worries about making changes to the process so late in an election year. Many Vermonters wouldn’t be aware of the schedule change — which obviously isn’t yet official, he said. And the change would take effect so fast, it would leave potential candidates with “much less time to make the extremely important and difficult decision of whether to run for public office and then to gather the required signatures.”

“I find it deeply concerning that this major change in our elections calendar could move forward based on what I perceive to be mainly misconceptions and unsubstantiated fears,” Millar said. He argues that the Department of Justice lacks authority to move Vermont’s primary date.

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Minutes - February 2014 State Committee Meeting

February 8, 2014; 1:00 pm, 
North End Studios, Burlington
In attendance: Approximately 60 people attended, with another several guest speakers.

Welcome: Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Emma opened the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. She offered up an instant poll for State Committee members to answer a survey question on paper or electronic meeting materials. Those State Committee members without smartphones participated by a raising of hands. Most people indicated a preference to receive materials only electronically. Party leaders will take this into consideration when planning future meetings. Emma also asked people to support the party by becoming a monthly or one-time donor.

Panel: Burlington City Council Update and City Committee Leaders
All four incumbent Progressive City Councilors shared highlights on issues they are working on ranging from climate change initiatives to public safety to transportation (bike/ped issues) to updates on Burlington Telecom. Councilors Max Tracy and Rachel Siegel are up for reelection this March. Max needs help with his council race – volunteer support and financial support – because he is running against a well organized Democrat. Rachel has an opponent, but does not expect a tough race. Councilors Vince Brennan and Jane Knodell are up for reelection in 2015. There is an open seat for City Council in Ward 1 and State Party Vice Chair Selene Colburn is running unopposed for that seat. We expect to have 5 city councilors out of 14 after Town Meeting Day. Democrats currently have 7 seats with a possibility of gaining one more seat. The other two seats are held by Independents. Burlington City Chair Kyle Sillman-Smith and Vice Chair Ali Zipparo shared ways they have reenergized their city committee including regular informal “breakfast club” gatherings, leader recruitment to get more people involved by creating a database of potential leaders to draw from when commissions and boards have openings in the city, and a regular city committee meeting schedule.

Paid Sick Days (PSD) Panel
We were joined by Rep. Cindy Weed, Lindsay DesLauriers from Voices for Vermont’s Children, Cary Brown from the VT Commission on Women, Cecile Reuge from the VT Workers’ Center, and Dan Barlow from VT Businesses for Social Responsibility. Rep. Weed gave an overview of the Paid Sick Days bill in the House and explained it is due for a vote in her committee (House General) next week and could be voted on by the full House as early as mid February. The fight will be whether or not carve outs get added to the bill before it leaves committee. Also the Senate is not as supportive of the bill and the Governor is not a guaranteed supporter either. Lindsay explained the PSD issue from the angle of families/children and gave an overview of PSD history in VT. Cary explained PSD as an issue that relates disproportionately to women because they tend to hold more low-wage, service/retail jobs in VT that tend to not include paid sick leave. She also raised the issue of victims of domestic violence and the challenge of taking leave to heal from acts of violence. Dan explained the business angle and impact on the economy and noted several businesses are supportive of this bill, but several are speaking out and starting to pressure Representatives not to support this bill because it is an added “burden” on businesses. Cecile explained the VWC’s organizing effort to get PSD passed this session and ways people could help.

Emma then asked SC members to take action at the meeting and contact their state representative, senator and the Governor’s office to ask them to support the PSD bill. Legislator contact information was shared and people took time to place calls. We reviewed a list of key legislators who would benefit from being contacted. VPP will send an email action alert to share that list and ask all VPP members to take action on this bill early next week.

Break/Raffle Drawing

Regional Breakouts
The SC membership broke into regional groups to discuss local issues and potential house and senate districts for the VPP to target in the 2014 election cycle. Based on limited numbers from certain parts of the state, we had groups meet together from the Northwest region (Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille Counties), Chittenden/A-R (Chittenden, Addison and Rutland Counties), NEK/Central Vermont, and Southern Vermont.  CoCo members from each region facilitated the conversation. SC members said this was a useful way to break up the meeting. Party leaders will try to find ways to keep conversations going on topics raised in between SC meetings.

Platform Review Committee Update
Ben Eastwood (Montpelier) reported as Chair of the new Platform Review Committee. There is no written procedure on how to set up the process for reviewing the platform beyond formal ways to adopt changes to the platform (state law and VPP bylaws). The CoCo endorsed a process for this round in January. The committee will be appointed by the State Party Chair and limited to 5 members to keep it workable. An attempt will be made to achieve geographic diversity and a mix of new and experienced voices. The committee will also be charged with offering a written recommendation on a procedure to adopt for future platform review work so the Party has a known process going forward. The Chair appointed: Ben Eastwood (Montpelier, Chair of Montpelier Town Committee and Washington County) as Chair, Leslie Matthews (Northfield, former Coco member, SC member), Tim Kipp (Bratteboro, SC member), Cindy Weed (Enosburg Falls, former chair of platform committee last time, State Rep), and Becky Raymond (Middlesex, new Party member). Becky recently resigned from committee, so the Chair will work to fill the vacancy. The committee also has a recent UVM grad working as an intern for the committee.

The process is still being created, but it will include several ways to engage SC members and other Party members in reviewing and offering feedback on the platform. It will also include a very clear set of procedures, including any amendments and the process for voting/debate ahead of the September SC meeting where the SC and town and county chairs will be asked to adopt/reject any changes. The May 31st SC meeting will include a large portion of time on the agenda for platform discussion and input. The committee hopes to have any proposed amendments ready for the CoCo to review in mid July. Questions and feedback can be sent to Ben.

Party Committee Reports
Corey Decker (Enosburg) reported as Chair of the elections committee. Emma reported for Chairs who were absent from the meeting, including Chris Brimmer (organizational development committee), Martha Abbott (fundraising committee), and the communications committee (who are in need of a new Chair). All committees are looking for volunteers. Here is a description of each committee’s charge:

Fundraising Committee
Committee will develop an annual fundraising plan for the Party, oversee fundraising appeals to Party members (initial ask, follow up ask, etc.), revamp fundraising strategies used by the Party in the past, assist staff with development of appeals (letters, online, etc.), assist staff with organizing fundraising events (small), train Coco members and other Party leaders on how to effectively fundraise, and plan an annual major fundraising event for the Party.

Elections Committee
Committee will develop and conduct campaign trainings for candidates, campaign managers, and campaign volunteers during the 2014 election cycle (build capacity of party to run strong campaigns). The committee will also assist Party leaders and staff in recruiting candidates to run in the 2014 election cycle and assist the CoCo and State Committee in any Party endorsement process for the 2014 election. The committee will also support Burlington City Council campaigns as necessary (Jan-March 2014).

Communications Committee
Committee will develop a communications strategy for the Party, assist staff with press releases for the Party, assist staff with social media and blog postings, review the website for relevant content, and help advance the 2014 special project - corporate campaign donations petition. The committee will also help staff and the CoCo work on branding and promoting the party on a statewide level (messaging).

Organizational Development Committee
Committee will assist CoCo in doing quarterly outreach (to increase attendance) to the state committee members for quarterly meetings, develop "on-ramp" events for new Party members to get involved in Party outside state committee meetings, and examine more ways for the Party to involve new members (on the ground engagement and promotion of Party). The committee will also work with Chair ahead of state committee meetings to develop state committee agenda items that will spark engagement by members (and ideally attendance!).

Legislative Update
Rep. Chris Pearson and Rep. Cindy Weed gave a brief update from the Legislature. The conversation focused mainly on the health care policy debate and the road to single payer (or not) based on the roll out of the state exchange and new rules facing Vermonters without health insurance and employers who do not currently offer insurance.

Submitted by Chris Brimmer, Secretary 2/20/14

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