Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D) and Former Congressman Richard Hanna (R) To Hold “Front Porch Politics” Conversation


At a deeply polarized time in politics, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D, Rochester) and former Congressman Richard Hanna (R, Utica) will join together to highlight the importance of voter engagement with their town, city, county, and other local elected representatives.

The “Front Porch Politics” conversation will be hosted on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 by Trailblazers PAC, the nonpartisan group that educates and funds candidates for local office across New York State and Pennsylvania, who take clear action toward clean government.

“Polarizing partisanship pushes voters to the sidelines while outside interests buy up the attention,” said Trailblazers PAC founder and president Leslie Danks Burke, who will moderate the conversation.  “It’s time to move politics out of the back room and onto the front porch by making voter voices the most important in every election.”

“Reconnecting voters with democracy starts with the local officials who set our property taxes, decide funding for our kids’ schools, and affect most of our lives every day,” said Danks Burke. “We are very grateful that Congresswoman Slaughter and former Congressman Hanna will join Trailblazers PAC to speak from their national perspective about how building common ground on the issues that matter, starts with local involvement.”

The cocktail reception and bipartisan conversation will begin at 5:00PM at the Strathallan Ballroom in Rochester, NY. The ticket price of $100 goes toward supporting candidates running in this year’s November 7, 2017 election, and tickets may be purchased online at www.TrailblazersPAC.com.

Over 600 people in the past nine months have attended Trailblazers PAC’s workshops across New York State and Pennsylvania on local political action. The map below shows the locations of past events (green), endorsed candidates (yellow), and Trailblazers PAC’s Office (orange).

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Kevin Beckford for Pittsford Town Board


Trailblazers PAC, the non-partisan pro-transparency organization founded by former State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, today announced the endorsement of Kevin Beckford, continuing their work to make voters the most important voices at the table by supporting pro-transparency, grassroots candidates.

Trailblazers PAC endorsed candidates: are running at the County level or lower; are 100% transparent in disclosing their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires); have received a portion of their contributions from voting households in the district or municipality they want to represent; and are committed continued transparency in office once elected.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing regular citizens step up to better their communities through local politics. Real change begins at the local level and we are excited to support Kevin Beckford as a candidate who is committed to clean government, and moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch.” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“I’m deeply honored to receive Trailblazers PAC’s endorsement,” said Kevin Beckford, candidate for Pittsford Town Board. “Their supportive and grassroots model encourages person-to-person engagement; at its core, the Trailblazers PAC team is ushering in a new wave of public servants who will be focused on serving. It is my sincere belief that democracy works best when it is representative, solution-based and focused on serving the constituents.”

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Helen Grosso for Dutchess County Legislature District 23


Trailblazers PAC, the non-partisan pro-transparency organization founded by former State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, today announced the endorsement of Helen Grosso, continuing their work to make voters the most important voices at the table by supporting pro-transparency, grassroots candidates.

Trailblazers PAC endorsed candidates: are running at the County level or lower; are 100% transparent in disclosing their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires); have received a portion of their contributions from voting households in the district or municipality they want to represent; and are committed continued transparency in office once elected.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing regular citizens step up to better their communities through local politics. Real change begins at the local level and we are excited to support Helen Grosso as a candidate who is committed to clean government, and moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch.” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“The requirement from Trailblazers PAC to recruit in-district supporters willing to stand on the record for donating to my campaign really does work. I don’t have to please one or two primary donors but now have a clear directive coming from dozens of residents who prove they want to be part of the decision-making process for taxation and services they receive,” said Helen Grosso, candidate for Dutchess County Legislature District 23. “I would like to double that number and enable many more to take such ownership.”

Jimmy Pearson’s Dutchess County


by Maria Strinni / Strinni Studio

Deciding to build a family changes everything. It changes your career, your social life, your schedule; how you view the world and your place in it.

“It’s natural when you are at this stage,” Jimmy says. “You start becoming interested in your community in a way you haven’t before, and wanting the community to be the best it can be. Because this is the community where my daughter will grow up.”

What Jimmy wants for his family is community-mindedness that fully takes advantage of, but preserves, the natural beauty of Dutchess County. He wants to help spur farmland preservation, ecotourism, wind and solar energy, and land conservancy in ways that maintain the character of the community. “There are things we can do to leverage that rural beauty of the Hudson Valley as an economic driver,” Jimmy says.

He also wants reliable, cost-effective emergency services and better transportation services throughout the county. Mostly, Jimmy wants active and engaged representation for his 25th District (comprised of the towns of Amenia, Washington and Pleasant Valley) in county decision-making.

“There’s just no forceful voice representing out area and there certainly is no voice on the front porches, engaging people,” Jimmy says. “They don’t know who their county legislator is and what their county government even does.”

Jimmy, 32, served five years as a submarine officer in the Navy. Now, he is a localization project manager for Google, Inc.

Jimmy is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines against Republican Deirdre Houston. But he says he’s trying to keep his campaign as non-partisan as possible.

“How did we end up in a (political environment) that almost everyone finds unacceptable? I’m working really hard to transcend that,” he says.

Jimmy says most of his neighbors, regardless of party affiliation, are receptive to a county candidate reaching out to them. He’s been “uplifted” by the non-partisan support he is receiving.

“Being a good neighbor Is about people serving their communities and working together,” says Jimmy, “so I decided to step up and take it upon myself to do something through our county legislature.”

He reached out to county Democratic party chairperson in February, and she responded in 15 minutes, Jimmy says. Before he knew it, he was a candidate for county legislature.

“I asked myself two questions: “Is this a place where I feel I can do some good?’ And then I thought, ‘Can I win?’ You know, I have to say, the election for this seat was decided by 100 votes last time. So, I decided to go for it and I’ve been all in since then. It’s been a blast.”

The best part, Jimmy says, has been engaging with constituents and learning all the ways an individual can make a difference in local government.

“It’s a lot of work, because I want to do it right. I have met so many amazing people in the community that I would not have met otherwise,” Jimmy says. “A lot of people do not realize the ecosystem of amazing folks who keep communities running; people you don’t get to meet unless you get involved. When you engage a little deeper it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. It shows you all the ways the government works, and the ways in which it could be better.”

With a dedicated and hard working candidate like Jimmy who wants the best for his family and the families of his neighbors, the future of the Dutchess County legislature certainly looks a lot more transparent and inviting.

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Four More Candidates for 2017 General Election


Trailblazers PAC, the nonpartisan organization investing in local-office candidates across New York State and Pennsylvania who stand for clean government, today announced the endorsement of four more candidates for their work to make voters the most important voices at the table:

* Bill Braine for Cornwall Town Board (Orange County)
* Amanda Champion for Tompkins County District 12 (Ithaca) Legislator
* Howard Maffucci for Monroe County District 10 (Pittsford) Legislator
* Rachel Weil for Seneca County Board of Supervisors (Seneca Falls).

Trailblazers PAC endorses candidates at the County level or below who fully disclose their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires) and who power their campaigns in part through in-district contributions, making themselves accountable to their own voters.

“Elected leaders at the local level have huge effects on our day-to-day lives. At a time when we see politicians from the village level up to national leaders engaging in questionable and downright corrupt practices, it’s time to start electing candidates who take real action for honest government. Bill, Amanda, Helen, Howard, and Rachel exemplify what we call Front Porch Politics, moving politics out of the back room, and we are proud to support them through Trailblazers PAC,” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“I am thrilled to have Trailblazer PAC’s endorsement,” said Bill Braine, candidate for Cornwall Town Board. “Transparency and a commitment to funding campaigns locally means accountability. The more people feel invested in their local government, the better it works. Trailblazers calls it ‘Front Porch Politics,’ and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

“I am so honored to receive Trailblazer PAC’s endorsement. As a first time candidate, its support will be extremely beneficial and helpful as I connect with voters. Bringing about change at the local level means listening to and working with members of the community to understand the issues that matter most. I’m grateful to the folks at Trailblazers PAC for their help and look forward to continuing to learn from them,” said Amanda Champion, candidate for District 12’s seat in the Tompkins County Legislature.

“I am so proud to earn Trailblazers PAC’s endorsement. Its “Front Porch Politics” approach resonates with my pledge to have an open door policy as a Monroe County Legislator. As a leader, I believe firmly in responsive government and it is my goal to work with the community to best meet its needs.  I am excited to learn more about Trailblazers’ approach to grassroots politics,” said Howard Maffucci, candidate for Monroe County Legislature’s District 10 seat.

“Trailblazers PAC is a true champion of more transparent and honest government and it is empowering to have its support, especially since improving government transparency and accountability are major tenets of my campaign. Having attended a Trailblazers PAC candidate training and now earning their endorsement, I know I am well equipped to empower the voters in my district and be successful on election day,”said Rachel Weil, candidate for Seneca County Board of Supervisors.

The General Election is November 7th, 2017.

WCNY Capital Pressroom: September 29, 2017 – Leslie Danks Burke


In this month’s GOP primary for Rensselaer County Executive, just over 1.5% of the county’s population voted for the winner, Steve McLaughlin. Leslie Danks Burke, Founder and President of Trailblazers PAC, says Rensselaer County is part of a trend across the state. She joined Susan to analyze the findings of the group’s recent report on the issue.

Click here to listen.

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Nicole Dillingham for Otsego County Legislature District 9


Trailblazers PAC, the non-partisan pro-transparency organization founded by former State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, today announced the endorsement of Nicole Dillingham, continuing their work to make voters the most important voices at the table by supporting pro-transparency, grassroots candidates.

Trailblazers PAC endorsed candidates: are running at the County level or lower; are 100% transparent in disclosing their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires); have received a portion of their contributions from voting households in the district or municipality they want to represent; and are committed continued transparency in office once elected.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing regular citizens step up to better their communities through local politics. Real change begins at the local level and we are excited to support Nicole Dillingham as a candidate who is committed to clean government, and moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch.” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“Trailblazers PAC is a leader in integrity and transparency in elections. I am proud to be endorsed by them,” said Nicole Dillingham, candidate for Otsego County Legislature District 9.

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Michele Farwell for Otsego County Legislature District 2


Farwell Earns Support for Commitment to Transparency, Grassroots Support

Trailblazers PAC, the non-partisan pro-transparency organization founded by former State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, today announced the endorsement of Michele Farwell, continuing their work to make voters the most important voices at the table by supporting pro-transparency, grassroots candidates.

Trailblazers PAC endorsed candidates: are running at the County level or lower; are 100% transparent in disclosing their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires); have received a portion of their contributions from voting households in the district or municipality they want to represent; and are committed continued transparency in office once elected.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing regular citizens step up to better their communities through local politics. Real change begins at the local level and we are excited to support Michele Farwell as a candidate who is committed to clean government, and moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch.” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“I’m excited to get an endorsement from Trailblazers PAC because they understand the importance of getting money out of politics. And they are non-partisan. When the rich and powerful use money to buy votes and confuse issues, we all lose. Raising campaign funds locally is the first step toward restoring trust in government and rebuilding democracy,” said Michele Farwell, candidate for Otsego County Legislature. “A lot of folks in District 2 feel like government is not working anymore. We can do better as a County by holding meetings when working people are able to attend them and by making video available online. We also need more openness in the way people are appointed to local positions, especially our IDA board. Only then can we get down to real business and truly represent our constituents.”

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Adrienne Martini for Otsego County Legislature District 12


Trailblazers PAC, the non-partisan pro-transparency organization founded by former State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, today announced the endorsement of Adrienne Martini, continuing their work to make voters the most important voices at the table by supporting pro-transparency, grassroots candidates.

Trailblazers PAC endorsed candidates: are running at the County level or lower; are 100% transparent in disclosing their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires); have received a portion of their contributions from voting households in the district or municipality they want to represent; and are committed continued transparency in office once elected.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing regular citizens step up to better their communities through local politics. Real change begins at the local level and we are excited to support Adrienne Martini as a candidate who is committed to clean government, and moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch.” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“I am thrilled to have this endorsement from Trailblazers PAC,” said Adrienne Martini, candidate for Otsego County Legislature. “Their mission to focus on grassroots campaigns aligns with my belief in the power of each constituent’s voice. We can only make real change through front porch conversations.”

Trailblazers PAC Endorses Marjorie Miller for Middletown Town Supervisor


Miller Earns Support for Commitment to Transparency, Grassroots Support

Trailblazers PAC, the non-partisan pro-transparency organization founded by former State Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, today announced the endorsement of Marjorie, continuing their work to make voters the most important voices at the table by supporting pro-transparency, grassroots candidates.

Trailblazers PAC endorsed candidates: are running at the County level or lower; are 100% transparent in disclosing their campaign finances (far beyond what state law requires); have received a portion of their contributions from voting households in the district or municipality they want to represent; and are committed continued transparency in office once elected.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing regular citizens step up to better their communities through local politics. Real change begins at the local level and we are excited to support Marjorie Miller as a candidate who is committed to clean government, and moving politics out of the back room and onto the front porch.” said Leslie Danks Burke, founder and president of Trailblazers PAC.

“Every once in a while, democracy needs a shot in the arm, a reminder of what matters, and Trailblazers PAC gets it: voters truly are the most important people in our democracy,” said Marjorie Miller. “Trailblazers PAC’s requirements for proven local support and a commitment to front porch politics, campaign training and references, giving endorsements only to qualified, dedicated people in local races from village board to county legislatures, is just what democracy needs right now. I am very thankful for their endorsement.”

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