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MASSACHUSETTS

 

Read here about our strategy, research, and endorsement criteria for Maria's List Massachusetts in 2021.

DEEP DEMOCRACY

Power Building in Springfield, Massachusetts
June 2021

Jynai McDonald, Ward 4

Zaida Govan, Ward 8

Lezlie Braxton Campbell, Ward 3

Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts - Action Fund

website: Jynai McDonald

Jynai McDonald's photo

Jynai McDonald
Springfield City Council, Ward 4

 

Jynai McDonald was born and raised in Springfield, and is the mother of three children. McDonald states that she has “always been an activist,” organizing as a high school student in Springfield and serving as a Youth Advisor to the Urban League of Greater Springfield and as a Site Director for the YMCA of Greater Springfield before attending Bay Path University.

 

After graduating from Bay Path University, McDonald centered her career on organizing and on child-care policy. She currently serves as Family Care Coordinator for SEIU Local 509 where she runs a department that provides representation, training, and services for approximately 2,400 Family Child Care providers throughout Massachusetts. McDonald also serves on the steering committee for the Common Start bill — a House bill to produce accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education and care — and as Western Mass Regional Coordinator for the Common Start Coalition. She was also recently appointed to the Governor’s Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission.

 

McDonald credits her organizing work with Western Massachusetts Neighbor to Neighbor with inspiring her to run for elected office, and says that she learned the power of policy to change people’s lives and of community organizing to hold elected officials accountable.

 

Key Policies Priorities

Deep Democracy Dynamics

 

Ward 4 is overwhelmingly Democratic, but Democrats in the ward split roughly evenly between progressive and moderate voters. In the 2020 primary, President Biden earned 42% of the vote, followed by Bernie Sanders with 32% and Elizabeth Warren with 13%. Ward 4’s residents are predominantly people of color. Based on American Community Survey data, approximately 44% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, while 33% are non-Hispanic Black and 19% are non-Hispanic White.

 

Neighbor to Neighbor, the Springfield NAACP, and the Pioneer Valley Project are three major organizations mobilizing around justice issues in the ward and the city. McDonald is a member of N2N and serves on the Board of Directors for PVP.

 

As a member of Western Massachusetts Neighbor to Neighbor, McDonald credits them with inspiring her to enter electoral politics; she has been organizing with them for years and has strong relationships with their organizers and with progressive elected officials whom she met through the organization. As a union organizer, McDonald has experience building coalitions and mobilizing power, and she is already working to shape policy through state level organizing inside and outside of government. They are providing translation assistance to help her reach Spanish-speaking voters, as well as other organizing support.

 

Given the movement electoral success of 2020 in Springfield, McDonald’s races alongside that of Lezlie Braxton Campbell in the Ward 3 race and Zaida Govan in Ward 8 makes Springfield a great case for short term and long term political and civic engagement. Our electoral modeling, centered in both demographic and historical electoral data, finds Springfield and Ward 4 to present key strategic opportunities for progressive gains. With it's combination of voters of color, young people, and past primary electoral results, our Deep Democracy analysis indicates that investments in power-building in Springfield and other Gateway Cities will be vital in building progressive power.

 

These factors present a strong potential for Deep Democracy effects in Springfield this cycle, both through collaboration between ward candidates and through alignment with progressive incumbents of color in the at-large race. This Deep Democracy alignment is deepened by the connection between each Maria’s List candidate and Neighbor to Neighbor specifically.

 

Campaign Team and the Field

 

McDonald has substantial experience as a candidate. In addition to her 2019 campaign, McDonald sought an at-large seat in 2017 and qualified for the general election. She placed last in November, but beat her citywide numbers in every Ward 4 precinct and performed strongly in the ward overall. Being on the ballot previously will allow her to have an increased name ID and a tested volunteer base. McDonald has been designated as a Rising Star by Mass Alliance.

 

McDonald’s only opponent is first-term incumbent Malo Brown, whom she argues has failed to represent the district effectively in his first term on the council. Both candidates have automatically advanced to the general election on November 2nd.

 

Fundraising & Opportunities for Giving

 

Jynai McDonald had raised $10,000 as of the April 30th fundraising deadline, over halfway to her baseline campaign budget of $20,000. In a historically low-turnout ward race, she plans to invest in organizing to expand the electorate. After narrowly losing to Malo Brown in 2019, McDonald has far outraised him this year, but must still raise additional resources to fund her full voter outreach operation. She accepts contributions through her ActBlue.

website: Zaida Govan

Zaida Govan's photo

Zaida Govan
Springfield City Council, Ward 8

 

Zaida Govan, a lifelong Springfield resident who moved from Puerto Rico when she was just three years old, has the lived experience and leadership background to be a bold leader in this predominantly Black and Latino ward in Springfield.

 

After graduating from the Springfield Public Schools and enrolling in college, Govan experienced assault, addiction, and incarceration; this time in her life taught her that "structural racism is embedded in the fabric of every policy in our country," and she has devoted herself to dismantling it in her work since then. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Springfield College as a single mother while working full time, and later went on to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work from Springfield College. A former licensed social worker and addiction treatment counselor for a correctional facility similar to the one she was once in. She is also a board member at Choice Recovery Coaching, which centers a culture of recovery with equity and justice for individuals struggling with addiction and the families who support them.

 

Govan’s work has centered on racial and economic justice in Springfield, as she served as President of the Springfield Community Land Trust and as a board member of the Wellspring Collaborative. Her community leadership in the city has also centered on Indian Orchard, which is a majority Black and Latino community. She is currently President of the Indian Orchard Citizens Council, where she created the Annual Food Truck festival and has prioritized clean-ups and beautification.

 

Govan is running for City Council because she wants to elevate her mission to continue to give back to the City that saved her life. Govan has the lived and professional experience to be a collaborative leader on the Council, and with residents in her district. Having previously run, she has a solid volunteer operation behind her, and her biggest challenge is raising money. By making a donation to Govan, you are not only investing in a Ward Councilor candidate with the professional experience to deliver on progressive policy and lived experiences common to many of Ward 8’s Black and Latino residents, but you are also making an investment in Western Massachusetts’ progressive candidate pipeline.

 

Key Policies Priorities

Deep Democracy Dynamics

 

Springfield’s Ward 8 is one of the most diverse wards in the city, with no racial or ethnic majority among residents. Based on American Community Survey data, approximately 40% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, while 33% are non-Hispanic White and 23% are non-Hispanic Black. The heavily Democratic ward splits roughly evenly between progressive and moderate voters. In the 2020 primary, President Biden earned 40% of the vote, followed by Bernie Sanders with 36% and Elizabeth Warren with 9%.

 

Neighbor to Neighbor, the Springfield NAACP, and the Pioneer Valley Project are three major organizations mobilizing around justice issues in the ward and the city. Govan is a current member of Western Massachusetts Neighbor to Neighbor. She is also the President of the Indian Orchard Neighborhood Council, deepening her experience in non-electoral community organizing and with a dedication to building community power.

 

She is running to replace Orlando Ramos, whose victory to the State Legislature in 2020 was powered by a Ward 8 constituency and one of the few successful competitive elections that results in the election of a progressive man of color.  Springfield in 2020 represented one of the strongest power building areas for progressives and/or people of color.

 

Our electoral modeling, centered in both demographic and historical electoral data, finds Springfield and Ward 8 to present key strategic opportunities for progressive gains. With it's combination of voters of color, young people, and past primary electoral results, our Deep Democracy analysis indicates that investments in power-building in Springfield and other Gateway Cities will be vital in building progressive power.

 

These factors present a strong potential for Deep Democracy effects in Springfield this cycle, both through collaboration between ward candidates and through alignment with progressive incumbents of color in the at-large race. This Deep Democracy alignment is deepened by the connection between each Maria’s List candidate and Neighbor to Neighbor specifically.

 

Campaign Team and the Field

 

Govan has previously run for School Committee in the 4th district (Wards 2 and 8), earning 36% of the vote against Peter Murphy in 2013 and 42% in a rematch in 2017. She said that these campaigns taught her the importance of building a broader team and organization to inform her work.

 

State Representative Ramos (D-Springfield) is supporting Zaida Govan’s campaign; OCPF records reflect that he has contributed both as an individual and from his committee account, and he has also connected Govan’s campaign with his volunteer base and co-hosted her events. Zaida Govan noted that many first-time voters and volunteers came out in 2020 and that her campaign will harness their energy and keep them involved. She is working with Rep. Ramos to mobilize his volunteer base behind her campaign.

 

The campaign recently ramped up its direct voter contact program. Zaida is doing several shifts of door-to-door canvassing each week and is beginning to recruit and train volunteers. She also plans to supplement this effort with phone banks for voters who are more comfortable with this contact point during COVID.

 

Govan’s only opponent is Lisa Thompson, a businessperson and author in Springfield. Both candidates have automatically advanced to the general election on November 2nd.

 

Fundraising & Opportunities for Giving

 

Zaida Govan’s baseline campaign budget is $25,000, and she had raised $22,000 as of the end of May. Well over half of this total came from within Springfield, where she earned 191 contributions, demonstrating the depth of her support within the city. She has also outraised her opponent every month. Govan has invested in the voter file and begun voter contact, and additional resources will allow her to expand her campaign team and make additional investments in in-person and mail-based voter outreach. Govan accepts donations through her ActBlue account.

website: Lezlie Braxton CAmpbell

Lezlie Braxton Campbell's photo

Lezlie Braxton Campbell
Springfield City Council, Ward 3

 

Lezlie Campbell was born and raised in Springfield, and has lived in Ward 3 for 11 years. He graduated from Springfield Public Schools and is now “a third-year educator and a proud advocate for his students” in the district. A lifelong advocate. Campbell is a Neighbor to Neighbor board member and calls it his movement home, where he has organized on issues such as housing, environmental justice, and police accountability.

 

While he got his start in movement organizing, Campbell is no stranger to electoral politics. He currently serves as the President of Young Democrats of Massachusetts and is on the Board of Directors of Bay State Stonewall Democrats. He is a member of the Democratic State Committee, Ward 3 Democratic Committee, and Young Democrats of America National Committee.

 

Lezlie is running for City Council to be a champion for his community by enacting policies that end the systematic disenfranchisement of his community in Ward 3. Lezlie wants to ensure everyone in Springfield has a seat at the table.

 

Key Policies Priorities

Deep Democracy Dynamics

 

85% of Ward 3 residents are people of color. 56% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, 19.3% as non-Hispanic Black, and 15.1% as non-Hispanic White. The ward is heavily Democratic, and Democratic voters there lean slightly more progressive on national candidates than in the city as a whole. Bernie Sanders placed first in the ward with 36.6% of the vote in the 2020 Democratic primary, followed by Joe Biden at 32.9% and Elizabeth Warren at 12.4%

 

Neighbor to Neighbor, the Springfield NAACP, and the Pioneer Valley Project are three major organizations mobilizing around justice issues in the ward and the city. Campbell is currently a member of Neighbor to Neighbor.

 

As a public school teacher embedded in movement throughout his community, Campbell has the network to build a robust campaign. He has had several conversations with fellow Maria’s List candidate’s Jynai McDonald and Zaida Govan throughout the cycle and named them as two other candidates he’s excited about; each also mentioned Campbell as an exciting future municipal partner.

 

Our electoral modeling, centered in both demographic and historical electoral data, finds Springfield and Ward 3 to present key strategic opportunities for progressive gains. With it's combination of voters of color, young people, and past primary electoral results, our Deep Democracy analysis indicates that investments in power-building in Springfield and other Gateway Cities will be vital in building progressive power.

 

These factors present a strong potential for Deep Democracy effects in Springfield this cycle, both through collaboration between ward candidates and through alignment with progressive incumbents of color in the at-large race. This Deep Democracy alignment is deepened by the connection between each Maria’s List candidate and Neighbor to Neighbor specifically.

 

Campaign Team and the Field

 

Campbell has been endorsed by Run for Something and is a Mass Alliance Rising Star. Each of these programs comes with organizing assistance. He is planning on centering youth voices in his campaign and has a youth coordinator to focus specifically on youth organizing and turnout. He sees this organizing as a way to build the base for future power-building in Springfield and says that additional funding would allow him to pay youth organizers and interns. On the whole, he said that his “dream campaign” is “a grassroots campaign that can raise a lot of money so we can invest in people.” He believes in paying people for their volunteer work and wants to make sure that he can raise enough money to do so. He also said that increasing turnout to 1000 voters or more would demand more citywide attention for the ward and undo generations of neglect by campaigns setting their universes, which “play a part in disenfranchisement.”

 

Incumbent Melvin Edwards has held the Ward 3 city council seat since ward representation was established in 2009. Turnout in the ward lags far behind other wards in local elections. In his last contested election in 2017, Councilor Edwards won with just 392 votes. Campbell also argued that residents lack a clear contact point with city government for reporting instances of police harassment and other harms. Additionally, increasing turnout in Campbell’s ward may help reelect councilors who are aligned with progressive values in at-large seats. Both candidates have automatically advanced to the general election on November 2nd.

 

 

Fundraising & Opportunities for Giving

 

Contributions to Lezlie Campbell are particularly valuable because he is a public school teacher and state law precludes him from directly soliciting contributions. Despite this obstacle, his campaign has raised more than $10,000. He described his “dream campaign” as investing heavily in staff, especially in paying volunteers who are new to electoral organizing for their labor, and an influx of cash for him would help build the base in Springfield. He accepts contributions through his ActBlue.

Neighbor to Neighbor MA AF logo

Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts - Action Fund

 

Established in 1996, Neighbor to Neighbor is a movement organization that builds power in its core cities; Worcester, Holyoke, Springfield, and Lynn. Their membership is made up of workers, immigrants, women, and people of color. Members of N2N have been on the frontlines of every progressive Massachusetts victory including, but not limited to, Massachusetts CORI Reform (2010), interpretation justice for parents in Lynn (2013) and earned sick time and increased minimum wage (2014. In 2020, they were critical in advocating for a justice census collection, and provided mutual aid in light of COVID19. Additionally, Neighbor to Neighbor delivered one of the only 2020 victories for Massachusetts progressives when Senator Adam Gomez defeated incumbent Jim Welch. Senator Gomez was a City Councilor and longtime Neighbor to Neighbor member.

 

Neighbor to Neighbor is planning to replicate the success they saw in 2020 with the Springfield City Councilor races this year. While they are currently in the process of endorsing candidates, their membership is committed to turning out working class and infrequent voters in all wards across the city. Although it is early in the cycle, Neighbor to Neighbor has been encouraged by certain candidates in the race focusing on major issues facing the community right now such as policing, education, and housing.

 

Neighbor to Neighbor’s long-term vision is for Massachusetts Gateway Cities to become hubs of economic activity led by working class people and immigrant communities, and their electoral organizing this year plays an integral role in this approach. On a statewide level, they are part of the Coalition for Worker Ownership and Power, fighting to expand worker ownership for an equitable economic recovery. In Springfield, they are working closely with Wellspring to support worker cooperatives. Neighbor to Neighbor mobilizes the base that delivers political and policy wins for a new economic system based on solidarity Neighbor to Neighbor’s most urgent need is for 501(c)4 funding to support their voter mobilization efforts this year, and their power-building approach means that investment in this year’s elections will make a long-term positive impact on the solidarity economy in and around Springfield. The three candidates we recommend in Springfield are each core Neighbor to Neighbor members — as is Springfield City Council incumbent Victor Davila. An investment in Neighbor to Neighbor is an investment both in the movement that will elect them and in the movement that will fight for worker-owned cooperatives, environmental justice, and community wealth alongside them when they are in office.

 

To donate to Neighbor to Neighbor’s 501(c)4 organizing efforts this cycle, please donate to the Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Action Fund.

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