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Restoring trust in politics with a grassroots resurgence


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This June, the 2014 election cycle officially began. Jim Wood announced his candidacy for Assembly District 2, and Jill Ravitch announced her bid for reelection as Sonoma County District Attorney. Now that next year's primary is only a year away, who's next?

To this political observer, the resurgence of grassroots politics is the surprising news in this nonelection year. Since the slow-moving landslide last November, a staggering number of grassroots organizations have emerged, revitalized or been reborn. Citizens from all points on the political spectrum are interested again in issues and willing to engage.

Say what you will, FOX News. Rank and file Democrats who worked the phones and walked precincts last year are making their mark, from city council chambers all the way to the halls of Congress, with renewed energy. If you listen closely, there is a note of hope in our community.

At the Ravitch kick-off event, one city council member from a smaller city told me they had cheering from packed chambers in recent months. In Santa Rosa, the public has been engaged and excited by the level of respectful discourse from the dais as the council does the public's business in public. The diversity of opinion coming forward from more than just "the usual suspects" is remarkable. The willingness of electeds to search for common ground rather than holding firmly to "ideological" or "special interest positions" is a hallmark of this nonelection year.

Something is happening here, and you know what it is.

Step forward and speak your mind. Join your homeowners association; speak up for the neighborhood. Join your local rotary or other service organization. Join one of the eight Democratic clubs in the county and talk about issues where you want to take a stand. Join one of the many focused organizations like Conservation Action, Jobs with Justice or the North Bay Organizing Project. Join one of the alphabet-soup-of-advocacy political action committees born from past presidential campaigns: OFA, from the Obama election; DFA, reborn from the Dean Campaign; or PDA, inspired by the Kucinich campaign. Volunteer for a board or commission.

There is one way to restore trust to our politics—and this resurgence of grassroots involvement is where that path begins.

Stephen Gale is Chair of the Sonoma County Democratic Party.

Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write



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