Happy, healthy, and hopeful New Year—here’s to change for the better!
The 116th Congress certainly seems to represent a change for the better, with the people elected to represent us looking more like we, the American people.
Change. This Congress is the most diverse so far. There’s a record number of women and people of color, including several firsts: two Native American women, two Muslim American women, and the youngest-ever woman. Massachusetts and Connecticut elected their first black congresswomen, and Texas its first Latina congresswoman. Of course, we still have a long way to go until Congress begins to truly represent America today.
The new Congress knows our democracy is in need of an overhaul. The first bill introduced by the new House is HR1, the For The People Act, a comprehensive democracy reform bill. The subtitle of the bill is: To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.
Help Congress do all that! We deserve a government that works for us. Call your Congressional Representative now to demand they support the For The People Act, with its bold democracy reforms.
Change. As part of our WV Citizens for Clean Elections work, we’ve been working on a similar set of principles on the state level. We will be really ramping up that work starting next week as the 2019 West Virginia Legislative Session gets underway, but we will need your help.
As we saw during the 2018 Session, people power works (think teachers’ strike). Despite the big win for people power, too many West Virginians feel like the political system is broken. We feel like we aren’t being heard in the halls of power. We see powerful special interest groups making big money contributions to political campaigns in order to end up with laws and policies that favor them, not us. Fortunately there’s a solution that you can ask legislators to join you in supporting: the Pro-Democracy, Anti-Corruption Platform.
Please make certain you are following WV Citizens for Clean Elections on Twitter and Facebook, as well as WV Environmental Council, also on Twitter and Facebook, and, of course OVEC (Twitter, Facebook) so that during the fast-paced Session we can quickly inform you of actions you can take to support the Pro-Democracy, Anti-Corruption Platform. Stay tuned!
More Change: OVEC Staffing
And, as of the New Year, Natalie Thompson has moved on from her position as our executive director. Vivian Stockman (that would be me) is assuming the position of interim executive director. If you are a long-time OVEC member, you know I’ve been around a long time. I started as a volunteer during the Stop the Pulp Mill campaign back in 1995,and came onto staff part-time in 1998. My most recent title was vice director.
As interim ED, I will be part of a leadership team that consists of two other long-time staff: Administrative Director Maryanne Graham and Development Director Tonya Adkins. We will keep things on track, with the help of our organizing team, which also includes two long-time staff, Robin Blakeman, and Dustin White. As mentioned above, our newest employee, Alex Cole, is part of the organizing team, too. While he has only been on staff since summer, he already knows the work like he’s been here quite some time. Maybe that’s because one of Alex’s first contacts with OVEC was when he was 8 years old. He remembers his family receiving the Stop the Pulp Mill campaign’s scratch and sniff postcards. (Yes, we stopped the pulp mill.)
Central to making this change work is you—OVEC volunteers, members, and supporters, taking an active role in our work. Stay informed: Please be sure you are connected to the social media accounts noted above. Stay active: Below are some upcoming actions you can take part in. And please do stay up-to-date on your membership and donations.
Tomorrow, January 8: On the eve of the 5-year anniversary of the #WVWaterCrisis, join us for WATER: A Sacred Gift, a Human Right, and Our Stewardship Role
January 9: Opening day of the 60-day West Virginia Legislative Session
Also January 9: A notice from our friends at WV Rivers Coalition and Friends of Blackwater: Public meeting in Parsons (Tucker County) regarding Big Run hydro-pumped storage project
January 15: WV Environmental Council’s Legislative Kickoff Blast, 6:30 p.m. at the Empty Glass in Charleston
Check our online calendar often for more updates, and new events and actions. See you out there!