Sage Jones, co-chair of the Whatcom DSA, submitted this article as a counter to Dick Conoboy’s article of Oct 14.
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When I asked Chanan Suarez to run for Bellingham City Council on behalf of Whatcom Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), I imagined we’d be attacked from every angle our establishment opponent could hurl our way. [Ed. note: Suarez is running against Lisa Anderson for the 5th Ward seat.] I knew our unapologetic platform of working class demands would bescrutinized and our identity as socialists would be weaponized. What I did not expect is the absolutely laughable argument that our campaign is not grassroots, and is somehow an outsider project.
If you’ve been to a Whatcom Dems endorsement meeting or come to canvass for Chanan Suarez’s campaign this year, you know how many people show up to support his candidacy. And our base is both younger and more diverse than our opponent’s.
From my cautious count, we have over 50 local Bellingham residents who have donated labor to this campaign to knock doors, develop policy, fundraise, and design literature. We have new volunteers at nearly every campaign event.
Why aren’t our incredible, dedicated volunteers pulling out our checkbooks and putting our money where our mouths are? A) We don’t have checkbooks, it’s 2019. B) We don’t have disposable income! If you want to see poor people contribute financially to campaigns that benefit our class interests, we need to pass meaningful campaign finance reform like Seattle’s Democracy Voucher program! Our landlords, low wage jobs, high childcare costs, and crippling student loans have left us with nothing to give but our time. The good news? Time wins grassroots campaigns.
This campaign aims to bring better representation to those of us who are being pushed out of Bellingham. We’re all in on this campaign because we’re not fighting to protect our bloated property values, we’re fighting simply to keep our place in this vibrant community.
Now for the fun part. Where does our outsider money come from? In our case, not from wealthy property owners or the political establishment. Most of the money is from a progressive donor pool down in Seattle who want to see more people of color (of which there are currently none on city council) and LGBTQIA+ representation in office (also none). A fellow Whatcom DSA member submitted Chanan’s name and he was picked with no stipulations or demands from the many generous donors. The Chicago contribution is from a Chicago DSA member who helped their chapter get six socialists elected to city council. I called him for advice, and he donated afterwards. Brooklyn? An old friend from Chanan’s antiwar activism. The rest are contributions from family and friends of both Chanan and our volunteers (my Grammie and my ex-girlfriend both contributed). Our donors believe in Chanan. None of them have asked for anything in return. We want to see a gay, Jewish, Venezuelan immigrant from a working class family lead our city to a new level of diversity, creativity, and inclusion and we are all giving how we can to make that happen.
To those self-identified progressives choosing to smear the campaign doing the grassroots work to raise up and give voice to those of us traditionally excluded from the political process: How is this innuendo upholding your social and economic justice values? The nearly 60% of Whatcom Democrats members at the August meeting who voted to endorse Chanan were not bothered that Chanan is not part of this city’s existing political establishment. Why are you?
Vote for Chanan Suarez for City Council on or before November 5 and if you would like to be a part of a truly dynamic and transformative campaign in Bellingham, come canvass with us. You can sign up at chanansuarez.com. We’re knocking on doors every day and we hope that everyone who wants to see our city work for Bellingham’s working class majority will join us.