Scope out our Record of Success!
Our own Justin Alfond impresses and expresses Portland with the League's recent victories with an editorial published in the Portland Press Herald, Nov. 27.
Any time an organization is seen to have power to influence local community issues and politics, criticism is inevitable.
That was the case during the past few weeks of the 2007 election, when charges were leveled against the League of Young Voters PAC as it gained unprecedented traction -- which ultimately led to resounding success -- in electing our endorsed candidates in Portland.
Careless allegations emerged about who we accepted money from and how we spent this money on elections.
We believe it's important for Portlanders and Mainers to understand that the league and its resources are at work for the good of the city and Maine 52 weeks of the year, not just the six short weeks before local elections.
Yes, through independent tactics of phone banking, poster campaigns, a voter guide, canvassing and coordinated media efforts, the League of Young Voters more than lived up to its name for the second year in a row in 2007.
We engaged young people in the democratic process, educating and empowering them to do what they can to elect leaders who will best address their concerns.
And we did it with integrity and honesty.
During the past two years, the League, a nonpartisan organization, successfully changed the landscape of Portland's City Council.
When the league (made up of Portlanders under 35, including students, lawyers, business owners, parents, etc.) gets behind an issue or candidate, we deliver, and it's clear that we are effective at our work.
Now we have much work ahead of us, work we believe is just as important as elections. It's time to keep our candidates and every elected official accountable.
The league chooses its agenda collaboratively and spends 85 percent of the year working on issues important to young people.
Most recently, the league made higher education a priority. Through a partnership with Opportunity Maine, we collected and organized thousands of signatures and spent days lobbying legislators to pass the Opportunity Maine legislation.
Our time and money paid off -- not only did Maine get a law that significantly reduces the debt load of students, but league members got two trial-by-fire crash courses: running a ballot initiative and lobbying state leaders to demand change.
Meanwhile, we partnered with the Public Utilities Commission to launch a vast educational campaign to inform renters and landlords that a new law requires energy-efficiency disclosure forms in rental properties.
The league was also active in defeating both the Palesky tax cap proposal and TABOR, and helping pass Maine's equal rights bill of 2005.
We want affordable housing and smart growth principles to emerge in our state. We want a vibrant, creative economy so our friends can succeed in arts and music and our Vacationland will see more tourism dollars.
We want a city that espouses best environmental practices, pedestrian-friendly transportation and green space.
How do we do it? By educating our peers, asking them to be involved, and using their assets and talents on our campaigns.
In 2007, more than 400 young people have volunteered with the league.
We also (shamelessly) do it with money, and we aggressively seek contributions. We raise money every day to sustain a full time staff of four.
This election season, some people tried to halt our efforts by attacking our endorsement process, the money we solicit and our spending.
Yes, we spend money on elections -- who doesn't? But, we want to be clear: we do it on our terms -- not those of our contributors or candidates.
In spirit of professionalism and good sportsmanship, we have proven that we are above reproach because everything we do is 100 percent transparent.
Voters clearly agreed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Alfond is the Maine state director for the League of Young Voters PAC.