With attention to local elections rising as part of the current political dialogue, the nonpartisan Trailblazers PAC gathered over 35 potential candidates and volunteers at Jamestown Community College last Saturday with a laser focus on this year’s Election Day, November 7, 2017.
Led by Leslie Danks Burke, who ran for State Senate last year and founded Trailblazers PAC in the wake of the 2016 election to invest in candidates for local office, the workshop targeted “Women Electing Women.” It zeroed in on the importance, process and politics of running for offices such as Town Board and County Legislator.
“Campaigning can be incredibly exhausting, but is one of the most inspiring and rewarding experiences you can have,” she said. “Going out into neighborhoods, knocking on doors and hearing from all those families about their lives and what really matters, is a tradition in American democracy that can lift you up or break your heart, but always leaves me certain that we each have power to help our communities achieve the future we all want to have.”
Danks Burke credits the “Front Porch Politics” approach of her own 2016 State Senate campaign as critical to getting regular citizens back involved in the political process. “Last year, we saw people on all sides of politics getting reengaged, and that has only increased since last November,” Danks Burke said. Realizing that this new energy should be channeled into long-term action, she started Trailblazers PAC to train and support candidates for local office across two states – New York and Pennsylvania – who commit to real transparency, grassroots outreach, and voter accountability.
Former Lieutenant Governor Stan Lundine also spoke at the event about his career starting in local government as Mayor of Jamestown before winning election to Congress and then statewide office. Lundine said local government is key because it’s closest to the voters it serves, and he noted that whenever he had the opportunity to appoint a vacancy, he chose a woman.
Joe Messmer, Executive Director of Trailblazers PAC, educated the workshop participants on nuts-and-bolts campaign logistics, and following the political conversation, Jason Sample, Public Affairs Director for Jamestown radio station WRFA, gave candidates insight into how to present themselves to media and get information to the press.
“We can push back against the conflict and anger in politics these days by working locally, engaging with the grassroots and making voters the most important voices at the table again,” said Danks Burke. “I know America and we can turn things around, one front porch at a time.”