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#RepYourBlock2020, a grassroots coalition, recruited dozens of people from diverse political, demographic and racial backgrounds to run for central committee and strengthen the party. Our candidates are united in a vision for a Franklin County Democratic Party (FCDP) that works for the many, not the few. That means a Party that is radically transparent, accountable to all people, open to new ideas and has the political courage to fight for the urgent needs of our underserved communities.

The #RepYourBlock2020 coalition recruited and trained over 70 candidates in wards across Franklin County, helping them communicate their values and educate, engage and mobilize voters in their communities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the coalition quickly pivoted to remote grassroots campaign strategies that included mailing over 10,000 postcards to voters who requested to vote by mail and educating residents about how to vote by mail.

But along with the obstacles presented by COVID-19, our candidates, activists and grassroots volunteers faced another set of hurdles. Over the course of the campaign, FCDP leadership used several tactics to prevent new leaders from joining the party. The Executive Committee Chair unilaterally endorsed the Central Committee member incumbents, placing their names on the sample ballot and promoting their self-endorsement through multiple mailers sent to Democratic voters across the county. The party leadership paid for mailers communicating that electing the self-endorsed candidates was necessary to defeat Donald Trump while focusing their resources on defeating other Democrats. These actions sent a message to the candidates we supported that their participation and leadership is not welcome in the Party. This highlights the need to create a level playing field for all Democrats in the Democratic primary and build a culture that's more welcoming to newcomers.

But despite fighting uphill battles on two fronts, we saw some amazing victories this election cycle.

In the past 6 weeks alone, we sent tens of thousands of text messages - and close to 11,000 postcards - to voters across the county. And our message resonated. Because of this campaign, thousands of Franklin County residents have a newfound understanding of what the FCDP Central Committee is and how it works. More importantly, thousands of residents understand that they deserve more from their Central Committee representatives. No matter what happens tonight, our neighborhoods are better positioned to demand the resources, respect and equity they deserve.

And because of this campaign, our neighborhoods have more leaders than ever. Every one of the 70 #RepYourBlock2020 candidates has what it takes to effectively advocate for their neighborhood, to lift up the urgent needs of their underserved neighbors, and to demand real, tangible solutions from all levels of government. Those skills aren’t going anywhere -- and the candidates that fall short in votes will keep fighting from the outside.

Lastly, we proved that it doesn’t take corporate money or powerful friends to run an effective, compelling campaign. While our opponents funded their campaigns from the deep pockets of their corporate donors, ours was run on the grit, passion and people-power of our diverse coalition of activists and volunteers. We didn’t take a dime from corporations or any political powerhouse looking to buy our loyalty -- and none of our candidates were forced to sacrifice their values or vision.

We’re building for the long-term, one person at a time, one block at a time. Our slate of candidates ran competitive races under the most challenging circumstances and they won’t be the last. Across the county, grassroots activists are building the independent political power it takes to build a Franklin County that is fairer and freer than we have ever seen -- and a local government that works for workers and communities, not corporate executives; that invests in housing, education and good jobs for all; that fights to make sure no one is left behind.

Tonight, we took a huge step toward seeing that vision become a reality. And tomorrow, we will continue the fight to build a Franklin County that works for the many, not the few.