RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #213, 11-4-2016

In this issue:
Election day is almost here -- all hands on deck!
Who inspires us: Interview with volunteer canvasser Deby Plaza
RPA 2016 voter guide

More inspiration: A conversation with with Javeeta Gregory
Moratorium on juvenile fees and fines in Contra Costa

Last weekend to phone bank and canvass!
Election day is almost here -- all hands on deck!

"Real change always occurs from the bottom on up – when tens of millions of people say “enough is enough” and become engaged in the fight for justice...Hundreds of thousands of volunteers helped us make political history during the last year...Now we need many of them to start running for school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and governorships."

- Bernie Sanders

This weekend is our last push before the election on Tuesday and every vote counts -- especially on the city level, where we are working hard to elect Ben Choi and Melvin Willis to carry on the political revolution, right here at home.

This means we are offering twice as many shifts this weekend, and recruiting as many people as we can on election day. Come on out! Canvass and phone banking teams meet at the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center at 2540 Macdonald Ave.

Please sign up for phone banking...
  • Saturday: 10-1pm, 1-4pm
  • Sunday: 12-4pm, 4-8pm
  • Monday: 10-1pm, 1-5pm, 5- 8pm


  • Saturday: 10-1pm, 1-4pm
  • Sunday: 12-4pm, 4-8pm
  • Monday: 10-1pm, 1-5pm, 5- 8pm

Election Day efforts.
  • If you can help out all day on Tuesday, please do. Otherwise we have plenty of shifts ranging from 2 hours or more

RSVP here
to get involved on election day, our biggest day of the year. You can also call Zak Wear at (510) 621-7566.

Who inspires us: volunteer canvasser Deby Plaza

We've said it many times before: it's the tireless work of volunteers that is the heart and muscle of the progressive movement in Richmond. The RPA doesn't have deep pockets, but we do have inspiring volunteers like Deby Plaza, who says, "I’ve never ever canvassed or done any door to door or any activism before, ever. Before I would never become involved, but this time I realized how critical it was."

How was it the first time you canvassed in Richmond?

I was nervous, but I went with other people that were used to it and by the second house I felt there was nothing to be worried about. Since then I’ve done tons of hours of canvassing.

What is it like going door to door in Richmond?

Usually people are hesitant when they open, but you just smile and you tell them why you’re there. I’ve had very few occasions when people wouldn’t open the door, but once I started saying what I had to say, they were all willing to listen.

How do you feel about materials you give at the door?

I really love the materials. I felt happy with what I had. Most of the materials were bilingual.

Is there any particular experience that stands out?

People asking me to come in, giving me cookies or fruit. My father is from Peru and my mother is from Argentina. I grew up in Argentina. I’m bilingual. A lot of Hispanic people that didn’t know English as well asked me for help with whatever questions they had for voting.

Do you feel you make a difference in the campaign?

Absolutely. Once people heard what I had to say they were very excited. People want to have a conversation about all these topics that we cover when we’re canvassing. There’s a great need and people are interested. They’re like, “No, I didn’t know.  Tell me.” There’s a great hunger for knowledge.

Do you have any advice for people thinking of canvassing this last weekend?

I can’t say that you won’t be nervous or scared.  Always go with someone who is comfortable or has done it a few times.  People are friendly. People care. The only other thing I want to let you know is that I’ve never ever canvassed or done any door to door or any activism before, ever. Before I would never become involved, but this time I realized how critical it was.  I was completely motivated.

[Photo credit: Michael Beer]

Just in case you missed it the first time...
RPA 2016 state and local voter guide

The Richmond Progressive Alliance recommends voting in favor of the following ballot measures:

on ...

  • Proposition 51, California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative
  • Proposition 55, California Extension of the Proposition 30 Income Tax Increase Initiative
  • Proposition 56, Tobacco Tax Increase
  • Proposition 57, California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative
  • Proposition 58, Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education
  • Proposition 59, Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question
  • Proposition 61, Drug Price Standards
  • Proposition 62, Repeal of the Death Penalty
  • Proposition 63, Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban
  • Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization
  • Proposition 67, Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum
  • Measure T, West Contra Costa Unified School District
  • Measure X, Contra Costa Transportation Authority District
  • Measure L, Richmond Fair Rent, Just Cause for Eviction and Homeowner Protection Ordinance
  • Measure M, Richmond Real Estate Documentary Transfer Tax
  • Measure C1, AC Transit
  • Measure RR, BART Safety, Reliability and Traffic Relief

The Richmond Progressive Alliance urges voting against the following ballot measures:

NO on ...

  • Proposition 52, Voter Approval to Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal
  • Proposition 53, Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion
  • Proposition 54, Public Display of Legislative Bills Prior to Vote
  • Proposition 65, Dedication of Revenue from Disposable Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund
  • Proposition 66: Death Penalty Procedures

Richmond City Council

The RPA is endorses and is enthusiastically campaigning for two City Council candidates in 2016:

  • Ben Choi
  • Melvin Willis

West Contra Costa Unified School District

The RPA endorses the following candidates for WCCUSD Board:

  • Carlos Taboada
  • Mister Phillips
  • Antonio Medrano

Each of these candidates have affirmed that they will refuse to accept corporate and charter PAC contributions and will move away from the charter school agenda.

Contra Costa County Board of Education

The RPA endorses

  • Pam Mirabella
who has refused corporate and charter school PAC donations.
Neighbor to neighbor connections make the difference
More inspiration: a conversation with Javeeta Gregory

Javeeta Gregory is another rock star volunteer with the RPA, and she started canvassing earlier this year with the Fight for Fifteen. Javeeta is a Richmond renter, an in-home health provider and member of SEIU, which is officially represented on the RPA steering committee. She spoke to us about how canvassing makes a difference -- and tips for avoiding dogs!

When did you first start canvassing?
It was in February for the $15 minimum wage, petition signing in Richmond. Actually, it was our union, SEIU 2015, that negotiated the deal with the governor to raise the minimum wage to $15. Since then, I've been canvassing all the time.  Canvassing and phone banking.
What is it like canvassing in Richmond?
I enjoyed it overall. I’m just afraid of dogs so I always canvass with someone else. It’s been a great experience. It’s fulfilling letting people know about the issues that’s going on in Richmond. The majority of people, once they found out what I was talking about, they agreed with it. 
How do you feel about the materials that you give to residents?
They’re very helpful. If I didn’t have those my job would be a lot harder.
Do you feel you’ve made a difference?
That’s the reason I’m doing it, and I’m going to keep doing it.  Even when the elections are over I plan to continue to get the word out. I grew up in Richmond. I still reside in Richmond. My mother passed, but I still have relatives, nieces and nephews here. They are supportive, too. 
Do you have any personal connection to Measure L?
Exactly. I live in Bay Cliff. Our rent was $1190. It went up to $1207, and it just went up again to $1260. So we want to get that message out there, make sure everybody knows about Measure L and that Ben and Melvin support it.
You said you wanted to have two other people in the photograph. Who are they?
They are Gabriela Medina and Benita Washington. They are also Richmond renters. They are also union members. We’re in-home care providers. And they’re volunteering to canvass and phone bank.
Was there any special experience for you?
I met a member. I went to their house to knock on their door. They didn’t know all we do. They just paid their dues. I was able to get her to do some volunteering. And now she comes to the union meetings.
What advice would you give to somebody who hasn’t canvassed before?
 Watch out for the dogs.

[Photo credit: M Beer]

A victory for racial justice!
Moratorium on juvenile fines and fees in Contra Costa

On October 25th, Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor voted unanimously to pass a moratorium  on juvenile fines and fees imposed on young families who ended up in juvenile proceedings. The moratorium, effected on Nov. 1st, is helping thousand of families who have had the burden of paying these fines and fees and will eliminate future financial hardship. Families with children in jail and/or families with children returned home from jail not longer ordered to pay for their incarceration of their children. The Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition played a leading role in organizing the community and allies on this important issue. 

The CCCRCJ will continue to organize to make sure that  Juvenile Fines and Fees stops permanently and each family who was charged even when their kids were found not guilty, get  their money back.

If you want to join the coalition or for further information contact Claudia Jimenez.

Special thanks to the Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition (an organizational representative to the RPA Steering Committee) for submitting this article.

Signed articles are the opinion of the author. Official RPA positions are noted as Steering Committee decisions. Other content created by Michelle Chan, editor.