The fourth official South Hampton Roads for Bernie group meeting, held once again at The Cutting Edge Cafe in Chesapeake, began at approximately 6:05 p.m. We started off with self-introductions as everyone around the table said a little something about themselves and either how they came to know about Bernie or what they liked about him. There was one person looking for more information on Bernie, some new faces, and many people new to politics in general. We also had a notary in attendance who was able to notarize petition signature forms for us all.
Everyone in attendance was a registered voter (at least that could already register!) and attendees were told to make sure they were signed up as volunteers on the Bernie Sanders website.
A question then came up about how to acquire swag for personal use and for events. Campaign swag is available for purchase at Bernie’s website here. Mary Lou mentioned how important it is to wear your swag when you’re out and about, and it would also be a good idea to keep a few Bernie flyers, etc. with you to hand out to anyone who asks about what you’re wearing.
As of tonight, we did not have an official petition signature count yet, but Mary Lou unofficially said that we’re around 200 signatures each in Districts 2 and 4. We definitely need more and should not stop collecting, although all notarized petitions need to go to their designated district collector for now and NOT to the campaign in D.C. at this time. The campaign will let us know when they once again will start receiving petitions.
There is a meeting with the campaign happening on October 11th from 1-3 PM for leadership/representation from each grassroots group around the state. South Hampton Roads will be sending Mary Lou, Erica, Jennifer, Elizabeth, and Stephen to this meeting to speak on behalf of the group. They will report back at the next group meeting all pertinent information.
At this time, Ken suggested that put our Bernie yard signs up until after this year’s November 3rd election to ensure people don’t get confused when Bernie isn’t on that ballot. He also suggested that we start in January and February, specifically after the holidays, to begin canvassing neighborhoods in minority, Democratic districts in our area.
Mary Lou then touched based on petition signature training and information pertaining to that. The petition training video can be found here and a PowerPoint presentation on collecting signatures can be found here.
|Group members hard at work discussing agenda items during the meeting|
In national campaign news, we are pushing to have 1 million contributions made to the campaign by the end of the month (September), which is when the campaign will be disclosing contribution information as per FEC rules. And per the Bernie national campaign, we should be focusing on three events nationally at this point in time: debate watch parties on October 13th; flyering events; and voter registration drives. In Virginia, petition signature gathering is also still our top priority.
Mary Lou then gave a summary of the Chesapeake Democratic Committee BBQ Fundraiser held on September 26th. She said they heard from folks promoting progressive politics in the area, including Dave Washington (running for Chesapeake City Council after this election cycle) who was at our last group meeting and Susan Hippen (running in the 21st District in the Virginia House of Delegates). She noted how important it is to network at these kinds of events and show support for Bernie at the same time, especially since people are usually also interested in Bernie as well. It is also critical that we stay on top of all of our local elections and get progressives in office so they can in turn support Bernie as president. This year’s election is on November 3rd, and the deadline to register to vote in this election is October 13th.
Mary Lou then went on to talk about the Get Out the Vote Training held by Democracy for America and hosted by Dave Belote, another local candidate running for Virginia State Senate. Democracy for America won’t endorse a presidential candidate this early, but they do like Bernie’s message. Mary Lou then brought up the possibility of having Democracy for America train us after petition gathering is complete and before the primary, so possibly after the first of the year.
Erica then spoke about the upcoming debate watch party South Hampton Roads for Bernie is having on October 13th at CP Shuckers at the Oceanfront. Everyone is encouraged to RSVP at this link. Ken brought up the idea of taking pictures of the event, including one with the majority or all of the attendees, and submitting it to local newspapers to report. Scott H. then mentioned his contacts in radio and with reporters and would be willing to help distribute any news releases or promotions for the debate watch party events. Mary Lou suggests a written news release to the Virginian Pilot about two weeks in advance of the event, if a volunteer has time to write and submit one. If anyone else has media contacts, please let us know.
Next, Dory gave an update on the D.C. rally, which has morphed into the “United Nights” rally with an emphasis on encouraging voter participation. A sponsor, Youth Matters, has been brought on board and will market the rally as a two-night event, the first night (November 13th) focusing on youth and the second night (November 14th) for adults. As stated by the campaign, Bernie does have that weekend off, so the potential for him to come to the rally is very good! As more details come about, we as a group will look into transportation options to attend.
Then Elizabeth told us about her event at Treasures at Mt. Trashmore held on September 19th. She said they collected a total of 165 signatures of which around 105 or so were good, valid signatures, which was a great success, especially for District 2.
|Volunteers taking time to pose for a photo during the Treasures at Mt. Trashmore event|
At this point, Ken made the suggestion to use the November 3rd election just around the corner to collect more petition signatures for Bernie at the polling places around our area. More information on that to come.
Ken also said a few words about voter registration. He said you have to make sure a potential registree is old enough to register and must make sure the form is signed. He also said that if you register fewer than 25 people, meaning 24 or less, in one day, you do not have to receive training from the state of Virginia on registering voters. But if you register 25 or more people in one day, you do have to receive the training. A link to the training can be found here. The forms can also be found online here. You can also get forms and receive the training at your local voter registrar’s office. (Link to Chesapeake registrar, link to Virginia Beach registrar, link to Norfolk registrar)
Erica then discussed a couple more events coming up. On October 3rd, she will be hosting a flyering/petition event at the Shore Drive Farmer’s Market in Virginia Beach from 9 a.m. to noon. You can RSVP to that event here. And then the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) is encouraging anyone to come out to the Virginia Clean Power Plan listening session happening on October 6th in Portsmouth before the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The session is to get the community’s opinions on new emission reduction requirements, which, according to CCAN, is not significant enough to meet the immediate threat of climate change. Groups all around the Hampton Roads area are encouraged to come outreach, gather petition signatures, and have their voices heard on this issue. If you are interested in attending, RSVP here.
It was then brought up that we need to consider locations other than the typical farmer’s markets for petition gathering and general canvassing. Some suggestions for potential locations were grocery stores, colleges, and the voting booth as Ken had mentioned earlier. More suggestions and ideas are absolutely welcome.
At this time Elizabeth mentioned an app called Countable that allows you to not only see what exactly your representatives are doing in Congress but to also share your opinions on legislation as well. The app can be found both in the Play Store and on iTunes.
Finally, the meeting came to an end around 7:50 p.m. Our next meeting date is to be determined.