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In the face of the 2016 election cycle, where populist voters on the left and the right demanded change to a political system that benefits corporate and political collusion at the top, the new Trailblazers PAC supports candidates for local office who are committed to open and transparent government.

Leslie Danks Burke, a Democrat who outperformed most Democrats in 2016 by garnering 13 points above her party’s voter registration in New York’s rural, conservative 58th State Senate district, launched Trailblazers PAC to send grassroots energy against politics-as-usual into races at the county level and below.

Trailblazers PAC’s innovative funding model requires candidates for local office to raise small-dollar funds to support their message of openness in government.

“If the 2016 election cycle was about anything, it was about people across the country waking up to what folks in New York State have seen for a while – the convergence of money and power at the top has warped our political process. It’s time for citizens to take back our democracy. Real, lasting change starts with getting people elected at the local level, where our property taxes are set, our schools are funded, and our roads are maintained,” said Leslie Danks Burke.

Trailblazers PAC recruits and supports the candidates that it endorses through a ground-breaking matching funds program that trains as it funds. “Too often, politicians see their message to voters as divorced from their fundraising message,” said Danks Burke.  “Trailblazers PAC recognizes that powerful relationships are built with the transfer of money, and we will educate candidates in building the donor relationship with their voter base. The outcome is a more successful candidate, and an officeholder accountable to constituents.”

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The Trailblazers Mission

Trailblazers PAC reconnects citizens with democracy by training candidates at the county level and below to develop a grassroots base of financial support within their communities, and by investing in candidates who demonstrably work toward more honest government.

The 2016 elections were a wakeup call to politics as usual. People voted who hadn’t voted in years. Record numbers of small-dollar donors came out on the left and the right. Anger at corruption and corporate control of government spilled over.

Since the election, citizens are even more engaged, with rallies and action campaigns focused at eliminating the systemic disconnect between everyday citizens and the elected officials who are supposed to serve us. In the face of this unprecedented dynamic, Leslie Danks Burke is launching Trailblazers PAC, a populist grassroots effort designed to channel this energy into local electoral action.

Our Trailblazer candidates will be a new brand of civically-engaged officeholders at the local level, who give our government back to the people who pay for it.

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