By Samantha May
One political action committee in Kalamazoo is endorsing and assisting in campaigns for local progressive candidates during this election season.
The Progressive Women’s Alliance has three charters within west Michigan, in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Lakeshore. supports local candidates who share the same progressive values as it, such as gender equality. A candidate running for Kalamazoo County Clerk, John Patrick Taylor, chair of the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners, shares these values.
“Because in the current system, it is heavily dominated by male, so having males that are championing for women’s rights and championing for the things that I believe in, I think it’ s so important,” a member of the Progressive Women’s Alliance board of directors, Nora Gimpel, said
Kevin Dockerty, a political science professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, said that progressive candidates tend to be considered social liberal, in terms of supporting equal rights, such as feminism, social justice type issues and gay rights.
Western Michigan University sophomore 18-year old political science major, Nicole Carter is also a member on the Progressive Women’s Alliance and an intern for Taylor. She said even though Taylor is male, he has proven over time that he believes in women and supports them.
“I am for progressive candidates because I’m a women, and I’m also a minority and if it weren’t for progressives before me, I wouldn’t be in this university right now having this conversation with you,” Carter said.
Her job as an intern requires her to go door-to-door informing Kalamazoo about Taylor’s policies. Carter said she likes to participate in local campaigns, such as Taylor’s, because people are normally confused on whom to vote for in their community.
“Things that happen in our cities are going to impact us more than what’s happening in Washington,” Carter said.
Another intern on Taylor’s campaign is Western Michigan University Senior Derek Segars. He said Kalamazoo’s diverse area and background on a lot of racial tension is a reason why he supports Taylor.
“This make me want to get involved in John’s campaign because minorities and low-income voters are disenfranchised by the current county clerk. Working on Johns campaign will have a direct impact on the people of Kalamazoo,” Segars said.
Carter also agrees that Taylor is a better candidate than the current County Clerk Timothy Snow. She said Kalamazoo was the last county in Michigan to get absentee ballots out to the public, alienating a lot of people and keeping them from voting.
“When voting is your most basic ability to perform your civic duty and that’s being disenfranchised in your entire community, that’s an issue,” Carter said.
Dockerty said Kalamazoo seems to be in support of progressive candidates over conservatives because of the amount of education in the area, including the large population of university students. Conservatives usually don’t deal with equality, such as equal rights within genders and sexual preferences, but they tend to lean toward less government and less regulation.
Therefore, progressive candidates are looking to be endorsed by certain organizations that share similar interests, Gimpel said. The Progressive Women’s Alliance has a process that requires candidates to fill out an online questionnaire, then Gimpel and the rest of the board look to approve based on certain qualities.
She said herself, along with the other members on the board of directors, look to endorse candidates with qualities including, the amount of money the candidate raised so far for their campaign, how hard “they’ve been working,” such as how often they talk to the public, what type of events they’ve been doing and so on.
“I find it very empowering, and very successful to see [Taylor], an advocate for Planned Parenthood, women’s rights, and climate change, take the clerk’s office. It is going to be really rewarding,” Gimpel said.
Along with supporting Taylor, the Progressive Women’s Alliance also is endorsing seven other Kalamazoo candidates, including Tracy Hall, an instructor at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, who’s running for Kalamazoo County Commissioner.
Hall is a strong supporter for equal rights and Gimpel said it’s going to be a personal success if Hall wins a seat on the county commission and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who’s also endorsed by the alliance, win presidency.
“We can do this, we can make history by electing the first women president,” Gimpel said.