THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT


Progressive Percolation

A selection of profiles on the state’s most forward-thinking politicians

by Morgan Awner, Osayuwamen "Uwa" Ede-Osifo, Lucas Gelfond, Ricardo Gomez, Leo Gordon, Elana Hausknecht, Evie Hidysmith, Rose Houglet, Deborah Marini, Vicky Phan & Peder Schaefer

Illustration by Isaac McKenna

published September 25, 2020


 

On September 8, progressive candidates across Rhode Island swept the local Democratic primaries, upsetting incumbent Democrats in a way that made the national political scene do a double-take. Something big had happened in little Rhody.

With the help of progressive activists and organizations, first-time candidates from all walks of life—educators like Tiara Mack, working moms like Cynthia Mendes, and climate activists like Kendra Anderson—scored big wins against the lawyers and career politicians that constitute most of Rhode Island’s political class.

Here, we profile some of these local progressive victors and the activist organizations that supported their victories. We hope that this piece sheds light on the growing progressive political ecosystem in Rhode Island—the network of organizations, activists, and volunteers that made victory possible. 

The progressive infrastructure needed for success took years of work, but September 8 showed that those sacrifices weren’t in vain. By building a path to political power completely separate from the establishment (the RI Democratic Party), these progressives created a dangerous weapon: the ability to effectively attack and pressure the political machine from the outside. Now, progressives no longer have to play nice with the “good ol’ boys” club that’s run the state for decades. They can stand on their own.

Read our profiles to get the perspectives of some of the activists, organizers, and candidates that made these wins possible, and take a moment to reflect afterward on what this progressive political ecosystem means for the future of the Ocean State.

-INDY METRO


 

Rhode Island Political Cooperative

A progressive political machine? Maybe oxymoronic, but it’s one way to see the Rhode Island Political Cooperative (RIPC): an innovative new model for how progressive Democrats in Rhode Island—and foreseeably across the country—can create the kind of electoral power needed to win elections up and down the ballot.

“For my entire life, this government has been dominated by a corrupt, corporatist, and conservative political establishment that hasn’t served the interests of the people,” Matt Brown, co-founder of the RIPC and a progressive candidate for governor in 2018, told the College Hill Independent. “The reason that our side hasn't won enough seats in the past is not because our agenda is not popular. The agenda is very popular. The problem is that we haven’t built enough political power to win campaigns against all the corporate and lobbyist money, to win against the entrenched establishment.”

Founded in 2019 by Brown, Jennifer Rourke, and Jeanine Calkin (a former candidate for Senate and a state senate-elect, respectively), RIPC gave progressives a new pathway for victory outside of the traditional Rhode Island Democratic Party. The local Democratic Party worked to keep progressive ideas and candidates out of Rhode Island politics over the past few years, actively running challengers against incumbents who don’t toe the party line. 

That’s where the co-op comes in.

By recruiting, training, and supporting candidates for office, the co-op plays the role that political parties traditionally play. Brown says the co-op builds progressive power—helping progressives win electorally—in two main ways. First, candidates running on a unified slate can support and advise one another through the ups and downs of a campaign. Second, the co-op provides the logistical campaign infrastructure most upstart progressive campaigns only dream of: campaign manager recruitment and training, a state-wide volunteer base, communications support, and assistance developing a unified policy platform. 

While 2020 may have been the co-op’s splashy entrance into the local Rhode Island political scene, it certainly won’t be the last time you’ll hear of them. The RIPC supported 25 candidates this election season, with 10 candidates still running in the upcoming general election. When asked about the number of candidates the co-op wants to field in 2022, Brown says “a hell of a lot more.”

 “We proved the strength of this model,” says Brown. “It was a stunning victory on primary night, and we intend to grow.” Growing means starting to think about 2022—recruiting candidates, campaign managers, and volunteers—today. In two years, the co-op could really be the establishment, albeit with a very different model than the one running the state today. -Peder S.

 

 

Reclaim Rhode Island

In May 2020, a small group of Bernie Sanders volunteers started Reclaim RI to continue the campaign’s objectives and organizational infrastructure. In the past election cycle, four Reclaim-backed candidates won races for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives. This week, the Indy sat down with Reclaim’s Electoral Coordinator, Dennis Hogan, to talk about those wins and the direction of progressive organizing in Rhode Island. 

Hogan set the stakes of these races by emphasizing the importance of the state government apparatus controlled by the Rhode Island Democratic party. For Reclaim, articulating progressive change in terms of acquiring state power is essential. “Part of the task and part of why we exist is because we really do believe that Rhode Island offers a huge opportunity to transform the state Democratic Party,” Hogan told the Indy. “And what is the Rhode Island Democratic Party? It's an incredibly conservative, very tightly-knit network of people who are closely connected to one another and have been for a really long time. It is overwhelmingly white. It is overwhelmingly wealthy. It is much more politically conservative than even the Democratic Party nationally,” said Hogan. 

Because state electoral races are small and organizing has immediate effects, Reclaim sees Rhode Island as being uniquely poised to push for progressive policies. Hogan emphasized Rhode Island’s desire for change, pointing out that many citizens of the state appear increasingly receptive to the values of the Bernie campaign and the popularity of progressive organizations like the Providence Democractic Socialist of America and the Working Families Party. Reclaim-backed candidates are already challenging Governor Raimondo’s push for a budget that makes substantial cuts to social services and struggling cities. Hogan wrapped up the interview with the Indy by describing Reclaim’s vision for the 2022 races, where they hope to build upon their organizational momentum to continue to win seats and take power in Rhode Island. -Ricardo G.

 

 

Sunrise Movement

On the heels of the recent West Coast climate fires, the impact of Sunrise Rhode Island—the Ocean State’s hub of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led grassroots organization pushing for climate justice through political activism—can’t be overstated. Rachael Baker, a Sunrise R.I. organizer and lifelong Rhody resident, is one of hundreds who contributed to the volunteer-powered movement to flip seats to progressive candidates. 

Following an application and interview process that began in January, Sunrise endorsed 29 candidates across Rhode Island’s House of Representatives, Senate, and local city councils. The political subcommittee of Sunrise Rhode Island identified strong candidates as, ideologically, “those in it for the people. They saw something they wanted to change... [because] the people in office aren’t working for them.” Twenty-four of those candidates belong to the RIPC and have pledged to support a Green New Deal, which aligns them well with Sunrise’s mission: pushing elected officials to fight for environmental justice and decline corporate funding, or boosting new candidates who will. 

Passionate individuals like Baker are the lifeline of the young but visibly impactful organization. As a full-time contributor, Baker spent months recruiting volunteers, managing a “volunteer pod” that phone banked for endorsed candidates, and meeting weekly with those candidates. When social distancing concerns arose alongside COVID-19, in-person canvassing died down, but some folks pressed on. 

After knocking on one door, Baker met a weathered and vocal constituent who goes simply by “Coach.” A long-time Westerly resident, he’d seen “nothing change for the better,” according to Baker. “Every time there’s an opportunity for the representative to [take] a stand,” Coach added, “nothing happens.” Coach’s concerns summarized voters’ frustration with establishment politicians, Baker said—the same frustration that likely launched 13 of Sunrise’s endorsed candidates to victory. For candidates who lost their races, such as Lenny Cioe, Baker pointed to another marker of victory. Despite incumbent Dominick Ruggerio outspending Cioe 28 to 1, she said, Cioe turned out 45 percent of the vote—another indication that, with the right push, Rhode Island is ready for a progressive wave. -Vicky P.

 

Democratic Women’s Caucus:

Last November, the RI Democratic Party’s Women’s Caucus split from the Democratic Party, and have since worked tirelessly to change Rhode Island politics from outside its stifling sphere. “The Rhode Island Democrats are moderate,” Liz Glehill, chair of the RI Democratic Women’s Caucus, told the Indy. “Our national platform is clear and progressive, but we don’t see that reflected in the state party.” 

In this election cycle, the group endorsed 72 candidates—55 women and 17 allies (men whose platforms match the priorities of the Caucus)—for races throughout the state. From statehouse runs, to town councils, to school committees, nearly 81 percent of endorsed candidates won on platforms left of the RI Democratic establishment. The Women’s Caucus maxed out the donation limit ($20,000) on most of their “critical” races, sent numerous volunteers and paid canvassers to door-knock, and used their network of over 600 members to recruit phone bankers for the other races they identified as important. “Important” and “critical” were defined by the candidate’s feasibility and the impact that their specific win would make (a progressive beating a pro-life incumbent was more critical than a progressive beating a moderate pro-women incumbent). They identified and targeted the Senate as “changeable,” and if all of the general elections go blue this fall, the RI Senate will be one of two places in the U.S. with a female-identifying majority (20-18). 

“Men always have an advantage when running for office,” said Glehill. “That’s why we lift women up and give them more support. And then even more so with women of color, who are facing more racism than ever and obstacles that white women aren’t going to face.” 

Unlike some of the other organizations that had a hand in the primary’s progressive sweep, the Women’s Caucus is “cultivating candidates AND supporting legislation of our women-elected Democrats,” according to a text message from Gledhill. This fall, they are following the lead of pre-existing community organizations, especially those led by women to color, to support their legislative priorities. This includes the passage of the Doula Bill, Medicaid coverage for abortions, and a $15 minimum wage. Glehill hopes that this platform will organically drive people of more-diverse backgrounds to join the Caucus, which “has always been [made up of] privileged white women,” she said. “Our members said that we should recruit, but until people see us as allies, they aren’t going to join us.”

After this election, Gledhill said that she “hope[s] that the state party has looked at itself and said, ‘Geez! What are we not doing?’” She told the Indy that the Women’s Caucus ultimately wants to improve the party from the outside, and eventually, once its platform reflects the Caucus’s values again, rejoin the party. -Deb M.

 

Working Families Party

As a Providence College student, Andrea Rojas started organizing the Safer Rhodes Campaign, which advocates for undocumented immigrants’ right to obtain a driver’s license. After months of advocacy and organizing, Rojas was dismayed when the Safer Rhodes bill didn’t even get a vote in the General Assembly. Discouraged by legislative inaction, Rojas decided that the answer was direct service, and she started working in immigration law services immediately after college. 

 After years spent in the field, Rojas was reenergized to build political power for disenfranchised communities, joining the Working Families Party (WFP) of Rhode Island in January 2020 as an organizer.

WFP is a national progressive political party that works outside the two dominant parties to train ‘people-powered’ candidates to run, often within Democratic primaries. Famous candidates of the WFP include Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. While the WFP has seen a recent surge in popularity and success since 2018, the Rhode Island WFP was making waves before any of these national candidates. In 2016, the state’s WFP ran Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, a Jamaican-born public school teacher who successfully ousted the right-wing Democratic House Majority Leader John DeSimone by just 21 votes. 

Ten of the eleven WFP-endorsed candidates won in the latest primary. WFP campaigners and volunteers made over 14,000 calls and 25,000 texts to voters across the state in an impressive show of organizing force, along with socially distanced canvassing and fundraisers.

 Rojas believes that, most importantly, this was an election of values. “Things like raising the minimum wage, a Green New Deal in Rhode Island, or raising revenue by taxing the ultra-rich are things that we know Rhode Islanders get behind,” she said.

While Rojas remains optimistic about the impact these newly elected progressive candidates can have on the General Assembly, she knows the work is far from over. “The budget this year and next is going to be really, really important,” Rojas said, referring to the impending budget crisis due to an $835 million deficit in the state. The WFP has worked closely with Reclaim RI to oppose the governor’s austerity budget and its cuts to social spending. 

“I really want to continue having people engage with the work that we’re doing,” said Rojas, “holding those in power accountable so that folks feel confident and empowered to do the work.” -Morgan A.

 

Sam Bell

Sam Bell is not interested in beating real Democrats. A strange claim to make, given that he ran against, and beat, multiple members of the Rhode Island Democratic party in two consecutive elections. For Bell, the word “Democrat” is important, and he thinks it’s been bandied about by the wrong crowd for too long. 

“I wouldn’t even consider it running against my own party,” Bell told the Indy a few days after winning his re-election battle for State Senate. Bell, one of only a few proud progressive voices up at the State House, handily dismissed his conservative Democratic challenger, Jo-Ann Ryan, by nearly 1000 votes.

 “These people are Republicans!” said Bell, referencing the Democratic establishment that supported his challenger looking to oust him from the State Senate. “They might have a D after their name, but they are far from the Democratic Party.”

Bell has been a member of the State Senate since 2018, representing the northern sections of Providence, and one of the lone progressives in the chamber. Bell was one of the few senators to vote against re-electing Dominick Ruggerio, a conservative, NRA and Right-to-Lifebacked machine politician, as Senate president. Instead, Bell says he’s fighting to dismantle the knot of groups—conservative unions, the state Democratic Party, corporate money, and outside conservative groups like the NRA—that support politicians like Ruggerio. “We need to smash the machine so we can turn Rhode Island into a real blue state,” said Bell. 

Bell’s excited for the future of the real Democratic Party in Rhode Island. “People are starting to see that when we fight, we win,” he explained. If progressives continue to focus on taking over the General Assembly by winning local races, instead of wasting energy on expensive and hard to win statewide races, Bell thinks the progressive “real Democrat” revolution could happen sooner rather than later. -Peder S.

 

Jeanine Calkin

Jeanine Calkin is headed back to the State Senate to continue representing southern Warwick, but things are different this time around. Unlike her last term (2017-2019), in which she was the lone progressive voice in the 38-person legislative body, next year she’ll be re-entering with a cohort of progressive Senators who ran on a shared platform centered around a $15 minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, and free college for all.

Calkin traces much of this progress back to the “political revolution” Bernie Sanders called for during his two presidential runs. “When it became clear that Bernie wasn’t going to win in 2016, he made this plea to people: ‘I want you all to run for office at all levels of government,’” said Calkin. “I was looking around at people, saying, ‘You should run for office, you should run for office!’ and everyone was pointing their finger back at me, saying, ‘You should do it.’” 

Calkin heeded the call and subsequently won her 2016 race, but in 2018, she lost narrowly to Mark McKenney, a corporate lobbyist who has consistently voted with conservative Senate leadership. “It was really a wake-up call to me,” Calkin admitted. “I said, ‘What am I gonna do about this?’ Sure, I could just run again in 2020, but it was very difficult being up there [at the Statehouse] by myself.” 

Calkin began thinking about another interpretation of Bernie’s political revolution: not just running for office herself, but building infrastructures of support so that regular people —“maybe they’re waitresses, or they work in a library, or they’re a computer scientist”—could do so as well. “That was the beginning of [RIPC], and it just kind of grew from there,” Calkin explained. 

Aside from inspiring Calkin’s 2016 run and the creation of the co-op, the Sanders campaign also laid a strong ideological groundwork, preparing Rhode Islanders to positively receive the platform: “When we talk to people [at their] doors about single-payer [healthcare], they get it because of Bernie. When we talk to people about a living wage, they get it because of Bernie,” Calkin said. 

 As Calkin looks forward to returning to the legislature as part of a robust progressive caucus, she notes that the work does not end with victories at the ballot box. “You need to have activists and advocates out there pushing for these things…holding people accountable, even us in the co-op,” she told the Indy. “Bernie always talked about how it’s all of us putting pressure on the elected officials, that's really how you get major change done.” -Elana H.

 

Leonela Felix

Leonela Felix has hustled for years, taking the 5 AM train to Boston for her full-time job as an immigration law paralegal, taking night classes as a part-time law student, and then returning to Pawtucket at 1 AM to do it all over again. So when she decided to run for a seat in the General Assembly in April, she thought she was prepared for the work.

“I knew it was going to be hard. But I just didn’t know it was going to be like this,” she stated.

Felix went door to door, walking over 250 miles in her district from June 4 until September 8. That’s equivalent to walking the length of Rhode Island seven times over. The wear on her Adidas sneakers, however, was well worth the stunning electoral victory of 58.7% over incumbent Raymond H. Johnston, Jr. 

Felix has been in the Rhode Island advocacy world for years, holding positions such as policy director for Progreso Latino, Inc. and deputy director of policy for Mayor Elorza. Felix has been constantly disappointed by the elected leadership’s refusal to vote on bills that many Rhode Islanders support, including driver’s licenses for all. After a particularly frustrating 2019 legislative session, including watching her own representative vote down the Reproductive Privacy Act, Felix decided to run for office herself. “It’s time to get these folks out of office,” she declared back in April. “If they will not fight for the community, then someone else has to step up.”

While Felix may have the miles, she credits progressive organizations in Rhode Island with her win. “Number one shout out to WFP (Working Families Party) and the team. They provided support from top to bottom,” she told the Indy. 

Felix knows that with this community support comes a great responsibility, and she is dedicated to working for her constituents on day one. Her first priority? A budget that reflects the values of all Rhode Islanders, along with a rally against the Governor’s proposed cuts to the distressed communities’ relief fund. “I wouldn’t be representing my community like I promised to if I didn’t fight back against these cuts,” she said.

Education, health care, and support for cities and towns would all face cuts under the Governor’s proposed plan. To make up for this deficit, cities like Pawtucket will face a choice between raising taxes or cutting services, both of which will affect low-income class families the hardest. That’s why Felix is advocating that “we tax the 1 percent accordingly, and if we make investments, they are the best investments for the community.”

“I don’t say ‘I won”, Felix said, “because we won.”  -Morgan A.

 

Lenny Cioe

Lenny Cioe mounted the first primary challenge for Dominick Ruggerio’s State Senate seat since 2012. Ruggerio has represented the district since 1984 and serves as State Senate president, which gives him the power to block a considerable amount of legislation before it can even be debated. Cioe is not a career politician; he’s a full time nurse in North Providence, and the 2020 campaign was his first run for political office. 

Ruggerio’s voting record is in-step with the conservative swing of RI Democrats; when same-sex marriage was legalized by the state in 2013, Ruggerio opposed the bill. That same year, Cioe married his partner of 28 years, Mike. “I had dealt with bullies like him my whole life, and I wasn’t afraid of him. That’s what made me realize that I could really do this,” Cioe told the Indy

Cioe noted that running against an establishment candidate was difficult; Ruggerio’s $390,000 campaign budget dwarfed the Cioe campaign’s $13,000, forcing the campaign to be creative and frugal. Cioe praised grassroots political organizations like Sunrise RI, Climate Action RI, and RIPC for their support in organizing and mobilizing volunteers. Cioe notes that he met every voter at least once himself during the campaign, either by phone or in person. “We met a lot of people that were struggling,” he said. “It was a lot of listening, and connecting with people. That’s what’s missing in politics today.”

Cioe said his two largest campaign priorities were healthcare reform and unfair taxing on small businesses that prevents their owners from paying living wages. 

While Cioe lost his election by 341 votes, increasing turnout was a centerpiece of his campaign. Participation in the district’s primary rose from 3,171 votes in 2018 to 3,605 in the 2020 election, a key facet of what keeps him optimistic and eager to stay involved. “Now that I’ve witnessed what people are going through throughout my district and close to home, something inside of me profoundly changed,” Cioe said. “I don’t think I can ever go back to just being quiet.” -Lucas G.


 

Brianna Henries

Near the end of June, Brianna Henries found herself in the middle of a perfect storm: her partner had just contracted COVID-19, she was quarantining, working from home, and trying to raise their new puppy Cooper. Then, out of nowhere, RIPC called asking if she wanted to run for State Representative. 

Last Tuesday, just over two months of hard work later, Henries commanded a nearly 2 -to-1 lead over the Democratic incumbent, Joe R. Serodio, after in-person voting finished on September 8. When mail-in ballots were counted, Henries had won by a 23.4 percent margin—a massive upset. But victory wasn’t always so certain.

“I had my doubts, because growing up, politicians never looked like me. They didn’t talk like me, they didn’t grow up like I did,” said Henries, who is Black and Indigenous and has worked for years as a retail manager.

At RIPC’s suggestion, Henries asked friends and family for input, including Tiara Mack and Cynthia Mendes, whom she had met through her church and watched from afar, inspired, as they both began their own primary campaigns. It turned out that Mack herself had given Henries’ name to the co-op. While Henries was doubtful, the two primary hopefuls were confident in their friend’s chances. 

With that boost, Henries committed to running just days before the June 24th deadline to file, and the co-op’s infrastructure kicked in. Henries is most grateful for how accessible they made the whole process. “More people should know that if they are passionate enough or have the thought in their mind that they can make a better government and be a voice for the people, they can do it. They don’t have to be rich or wealthy and have tons of college degrees to do so.”

In fact, Henries credits much of her success to her background in retail management. From asking for donations to talking issues door-to-door with constituents, she knew how to connect with people: “We say in my store that people aren’t just transactions, they’re interactions. There is a difference between wanting something from someone and engaging with them, and I think that’s what a lot of politicians miss.” 

Above all, Henries wants people to see that if you want things to change, it’s not hard to get involved. “I probably wouldn’t have done it without the backing of RIPC,” she said, adding that the co-op gave her a new perspective. “We often see politics as divisive or shady, but for once you look at the co-op and you see that politics can be entirely collaborative,” said Henries. “That’s what it should look like.” -Leo G.

 

Kendra Anderson

Long unsure about running for political office, Kendra Anderson felt compelled to campaign for a State Senate seat after witnessing the Rhode Island General Assembly’s failure to pass climate legislation in 2019. As a single mother and the outgoing president of Climate Action Rhode Island, Anderson felt a “sense of duty” to future generations, her cherished neighborhood in Warwick, and the environment. She recalled the accessible and equitable “way of life” that she learned from her mother decades ago at Vietnam War sit-ins and Civil Rights marches—a way of life Anderson felt ready to champion in her race against the “entrenched establishment and its consolidation of power.”

Endorsed by the WFP, Sunrise RI, Planned Parenthood, and RIPC, Anderson sought out the support of working people and grassroots organizations over that of “political powerhouses.” For Anderson, aligning her values with legislative priorities manifested in making the Green New Deal the center of her campaign. “For me, the Green New Deal is just an easy way of saying ‘Change everything,’” she said.

During the primary, Anderson ran against three men with ties to the local Democratic establishment, including Steve Merolla, the Warwick City Council President. She proposed an alternative vision that contrasted those of her opponents who, she said, “paid lip service to marginally progressive ideas” without necessarily pursuing them in practice. With the support of groups like the RIPC, Anderson’s strategy of grassroots campaigning led her to victory with 30.9% of the vote. She will be one of the few progressives in RI to face a serious challenge from a Republican, Scott Zambarano, in the general election on November 3.

“We always joked in my campaign that we were turning the State House into the People’s House,” she said, reflecting on how her outreach methods connect to and necessitate policies like the Green New Deal. “I have this vision that somehow it would be this really lively place of change, activity, and creativity that would benefit so many more people… If we can’t live on this earth, and we can’t live equitably, we perish.” -Rose H.

 

Tiara Mack

On September 8, 2020, Tiara Mack, a 26-year-old from South Carolina, won the primary for RI District 6 State Senate against 15-year incumbent Harold Metts. She said one of the hardest parts of her campaign was trying “to lead with authenticity, with bravery, with my identities.” 

“You see a cis white man on a political ad, you automatically think he’s competent, he knows what he’s doing, he’s a policy wizard. You see me and I say, ‘Elect queer Black women’literally the antithesis of what you see on a political adand you have to reckon with that,” Mack explained. “Yes—elect queer Black women! Why? Because it is an inherently political statement. What ideas do we have about Blackness that are not worthy of being in politics? What are the ideas of queerness that we say should not be at the forefront of policy and of state officials? Let's put it out there, and let's make people confront it.”

Encouraged by fellow Rhode Island State Senate candidate Jennfier Rourke, Mack is clear that she never would have run without the Rhode Island Political Cooperative. “I definitely would not have had the tools, the support system, or the emotional or mental capacity to run if I didn’t have a group of people who were all like-minded, who were coming from similar backgrounds, most of which were people of color… Now I have six people that I know I can trust as soon as I walk into the Senate,” she said. Though Rhode Island’s compactness certainly boosted the co-op’s success, Mack thinks this model “can work anywhere.”

“If you get enough people willing to work together,” she insisted, “why not take over your city, your county, your state?” -Evie H.

 

David Morales

At age 22, David Morales defeated incumbent Daniel McKiernan for his seat in the House. The inequality and struggles he witnessed over twenty-two years motivated him to run, Morales told the Indy. “Growing up, everyone around my neighborhood was low-income. The fact that I grew up with a single mom who worked multiple jobs, the fact we grew up in poverty—I was conditioned to believe that was normal.”

“Being a young person of color, the establishment will always try to control the narrative of who I am and make [me] seem to be a ‘fringe candidate who had no chance.’ But I can control my narrative directly with our neighbors by showing up to all of our community events, knocking on doors as early as mid-February, and being direct about what our policy ideas were about.”

On his first day in office, Morales said he would fight to raise the minimum wage, revise the education funding formula, reform health care coverage, and work towards  universal health care. 

“A lot of these ideas that were once considered fringe— like the idea of raising the minimum wage—I believe will gain more traction than they have in previous years. The fact that we have school buildings collapsing and an education system that has been regarded as one of the worst in the entire nation. Our backs are up against the wall… the tide is turning.”

By tide, Morales points to the wave of progressive candidates winning in local and national politics.

“In order for the progressive movement to be successful, we have to make sure that we are intentionally engaging with our communities every step of the way. What if we had 20+ working families showing up to testify [at the Statehouse] in support of a bill that would raise the minimum wage? What if we had families stand up and say, ‘I’m on Medicaid and it is wrong that we’re going to cut it again for the fifth year in a row.’ This year is going to be the pivotal year for [Rhode Islanders] to see whether the state government actually cares about working families or not.” -Uwa E.O.

 


THE INDY METRO B’2X are currently accepting applications for their own co-op.