When Berkeley City Council member Jesse Arreguin was elected as the city’s new Mayor in November, IBEW Local 1245 was quick to endorse candidate Kate Harrison to fill Arreguin’s seat on the City Council. Not only does Harrison have a strong track record when it comes to supporting working families, she has also vowed to stand with IBEW Local 1245 on Community Choice Aggregation, a key issue that is of the utmost importance to the union.
In February, more than a dozen Organizing Stewards from Local 1245 went to work on Harrison’s campaign, which was set to be a mail-only ballot, with votes to be counted in early March. Given the fact that it was a special election, with no formal “Election Day,” voter turnout was expected to be on the low side, and a strong Get-Out-the-Vote campaign would be critical.
The Local 1245 team spent the better part of a month working diligently on Harrison’s campaign. Each afternoon, they phone-banked for several hours, and in the evenings, they went door-to-door, in order to have as many face-to-face conversations with voters as possible. They also worked on Saturdays, to further increase the level of voter contact they were able to achieve.
“Most of the time, Kate Harrison was right there with us, doing the phone calls and walking the precincts,” noted Organizing Steward Rene Cruz Martinez, who led the team from Local 1245. “When we were phone-banking, Kate encouraged us to send over the unsure voters to her, so she could talk to them directly. She definitely showed us that she wanted this, and she worked tirelessly herself, which was inspiring to all of us.”
Many of the campaigners from Local 1245 were first-timers, with no previous experience working on a political campaign before. Cruz Martinez made the strategic decision to pair up the newer organizers with others who had more experience. This strategy, along with a whole lot of commitment, dedication, innate skills and ability to learn quickly, allowed them to achieve more than they had ever thought possible.
Thanks in large part to the team’s hard work, Harrison handily defeated her opponent by a margin of nearly two-to-one. Harrison received 62% of the votes, while her opponent, Ben Gould, received just 38%.
“Even though sometimes it felt as if we were losing, we never gave up. And in the end, we ended up on top with a newly elected City Councilmember!” said Cruz Martinez. “The wide margin proved that we did what we had to do — not only to defeat the opponent, but also to show the commitment we had to getting Kate elected.”
Organizing Stewards on Campaign: Alicia Rodriguez Cordero, LaDrena Gunn-Swangin, Jasmine Williams, Miko Banks, Nancy Martinez, Felicia Martinez, Melissa Fernandez, Brenda Balcazar, David Ly, Ruben Hernandez, Brittney Santana, Arnaldo Lizarraga, Rene Cruz Martinez
–Rebecca Band, IBEW 1245 Communications Director