June 23, 2018

Grains of Salt (v36): JPW for... Whom?

Grains of Salt
Juanita Perez Williams, who lost to Independent Ben Walsh to be mayor of Syracuse, was a late entry into the NY-24 Congressional race to replace Republican John Katko.

Perez Williams (JPW) initially supported SU professor Dana Balter to represent the party, but then entered the race herself, with considerable outside support (and what she just described in a televised debate as something of a groundswell of support from local friends and strangers encouraging her run).

She and Balter have the same positions on just about every issue, so what distinguishes them for voters? Where Balter is building her campaign on her grassroot support as well as the support of all of the party folks in the district, and she's been working on this since last September, meeting voters and listening to them, and she had a ton of signatures,  JPW says she's the one who's most able to beat Katko in November, and our district has national attention and that can only help us. Plus, she's battle-tested.

I've been getting at least a couple mailings a week from her or from her supporting organizations for a while now. They all have the same tone - beating Trump, fighting Trump, supporting a woman's right to choose and Medicare for all - but I don't recall a single one really talking about our district. You know, us?  The people she's fighting to represent in Washington? I mean, shouldn't we be front and center, or at least in the lower left-hand corner? And are abortion and universal health care really the most important issues for us?

The latest campaign piece I received was actually paid for by her committee - Juanita for Congress - which lists a Syracuse street address and a local PO box for donations. Per her website, her priorities are:
  • Health care: quality, affordable care; guaranteed access to coverage for all; lower drug prices; protecting the ACA, no 'age tax' in premiums, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as full funding for Planned Parenthood and defending a woman's right to choose.
  • Education: full resources for public schools; technical apprenticeships as an alternative to college prep; no funneling tax dollars to private schools; advocating for teachers.
  • Jobs and wages: smart infrastructure investments; skills training to help diversify the economy and keep young people close to home; sensible tax policies; wage protections; innovation.
  • Environment: passing policies to ensure a vibrant planet for future generations; clean energy initiatives here in CNY to provide meaningful jobs.
However, per the fancy mailing (which speaks in the third person except for the one statement show in the picture below), here's what's important:

And here are the priorities for that mission, as described in the piece:
  • Taking Back Congress: Trump distracts/divides; Republicans in DC tried to take our healthcare, gave tax breaks to Wall Street, ended environmental protections. 
  • Protecting the Right to Choose: Trump & Washington Rs are waging a war on women;  protect the right to choose; full funding for PP; ending gender discrimination; harsh penalties for sexual harassment.
  • Fighting for Medicare for All: affordable healthcare is a right; universal health care is Medicare for All; stopping measures to repeal the ACA.
  • Keeping our Families Safe: gun violence must end; common sense gun reform including universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole; keeping assault weapons off the streets and out of schools. 
If you flip the campaign piece over, you'll find a list of her endorsements, none of which are local.  Here's a little about the organizations listed, which are shown at right:
  • VoteVets.org, a group with the mission of using public issue campaigns to give a voice to veterans on national security, veterans' care, and other issues affecting those who served and their families. Neither JPW mentions vets.
  • Latino Victory: this progressive group seeks to empower Latino voters, develop a pipeline of Latino donors, and develop Latino candidates. JPW does not appear in the list of candidates or any press releases from this organization.
  • Congressional Black Caucus PAC (CBCPAC): you can find her here, including reference to what she's fighting for. In addition to what's on her own website, we find equal pay for women and citizenship for Dreamers, plus overturning the Trump tax plan.
  • Red to Blue, an arm of the DCCC, which aims to turn Republican districts to Democratic districts by arming diverse 'top-tier' candidates with organizational and fundraising support. Here, JPW's bio includes her children, grandchildren, career, and charitable work.
  • RWDSU, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store union, part of the UFCW.  The website for this organization is months out of date, listing candidates they had endorsed for 2017, nothing more current, and I don't find a local of this union anywhere near the 24th district.
  • Bold Action (BoldPAC), which says is the fastest growing Democratic PAC and is dedicated to increasing diversity in Congressional leadership. It champions progressive candidates. Here, her bio emphasizes her immigrant grandparents and her activist parents who worked with the farm workers movement.
My concern is this: which JPW would I be voting for on Tuesday?  

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