Wednesday, June 04, 2008



I'm in DC and tonight I went to events for two Blue America endorsees, Andrew Rice (OK) and Howard Shanker (AZ). My plan was to go over to People For the American Way and then go see Darcy Burner (WA). But there was a tornado and it was like someone with a water tanker hovered about me and emptied it on my head-- and in my shoes. I'll see Darcy another time. But the folks over at PFAW were jubilant. The two Young Elected Officials who had races last night won. One Isadore Hall, is a friend of mine and after I saw a glowing endorsement in the L.A. Times I knew he had a lock on the race. He had been widely expected to win anyway... and he won big and will go from being an outstanding member of the Compton City Council to being a dedicated progressive in the California Assembly. The other winner, Kevin Killer, is someone I had never met.

Yesterday, while older South Dakotans were giving Hillary her last victory of the presidential race, a state known for electing conservative-leaning Democrats started a political career rolling for someone who is far from a conservative-leaning Democrat. Like Isadore Hall, Kevin Killer is dedicated to being a public servant in the best traditions of democracy, serving the community, protecting civil liberties and standing up for regular folks. Kevin, a Native American, won first place in a multi-member State House primary by just 5 votes. Kevin's District is unlike any other you've ever seen, and that's why I want to ask you to help him win the general election in November.

District 27 encompasses Bennett, Haakon, Jackson, and Shannon Counties and sprawls over 6,961 square miles (map)! That's more land than Delaware and Connecticut combined! It's larger than Hawaii on its own, and just slightly smaller than all of New Jersey! Shannon County itself is entirely inside the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is the second poorest county in the country with a per-capita income of just $6,286. Wikipedia also taught me that it has the interesting distinction of having the highest percentage of Democratic votes for President in the 2004 election of any county in the US (85%). Across the four counties unemployment is estimated to hover at above 50%.

So why Kevin Killer? He's a young, inspiring, and selfless leader who has dedicated his life to improving the world for others. He can't win without our help. Against advice from friends and campaign volunteers, he spends his own scant savings on gas to fill up his car to travel the district--an unsustainable practice for such a large area. To win, he'll have to do targeted mailing in addition to the interpersonal campaigning that is so necessary in a district like his. That's why we're asking you to either help him fill up his car with gas or help him send out some mailings.

Kevin is an Oglala Lakota Tribal Member and lives in Pine Ridge. Unlike more than 80% of young people in his area, he went on to college in Denver where he studied at Metro State College and briefly at the University of Colorado. The death of his father in 1999 brought him back home before he finished and at 28, going to school part-time, he's only now become a Senior at Oglala Lakota Tribal College.

To support himself, he works at a burial assistance program with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. All the while, he found time to nurture an extensive progressive resume. He's a former canvasser for Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth, Senator Tim Johnson, as well as Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

In 2006, Kevin was chosen as one of the first Native Americans to take part in People For the American Way's Young People For Fellowship program. As a Senior Fellow and participant in a campaign training program called the Front Line Leaders Academy, he stood for office as "President of Young People For," a fictional office designed to test his lessons learned. In January of 2007, he was elected by a body of over 500 Fellows from across the country.

Now he's also well equipped to run for real office. In the past year, Kevin toured colleges as a trainer with Wellstone Action and participated in the 2007 INDN's List Campaign Camp in California. He's ready to campaign but he's also ready with progressive solutions. With his extensive travel and training, Kevin understands his district's needs and is running because he cares about his friends, family, neighbors, classmates, and elders-- and he wants to make a difference.

Kevin's most important issue during his campaign is to expand access to education. At Oglala Lakota College he is the Student Senate President and also the Student Representative on the Board of Trustees. In late 2007, Kevin joined the National Indian Education Association as a Student Representative. In District 27, his goal as a Representative is to develop initiatives to improve graduation rates and facilitate State and Tribal coordination through the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly.

Kevin also wants to bring new alternative energy projects like Wind Farms to create Green Collar jobs, provide income and cheaper, sustainable energy to the Reservation, and to lead South Dakota towards a more environmentally future.

Kevin is a natural-born leader and a true progressive born from the community-organizing tradition. I hope you understand how special he is and I hope you'll help us get him elected by donating at the link above. A recent wonderful interview in Indian Country Today shows exactly why he's the best candidate for the job:
Killer was rather modest when asked by Indian Country Today if he was the best candidate for the job, saying that there were many people out there who were qualified to run. Killer said that if he won the nomination, he would take the concerns of the other candidates with him.

''I think that it's come to a point in our history and as a rural community that we need to start voicing our concerns better for everybody. We need to start getting out there and really making sure those needs of our community are met.''

Kevin is running alongside Democrat Ed Iron Cloud III against Republicans Mark DeVries (incumbent, anti-choice, one of 8 Members of the House to vote against a minimum-wage increase in 2007) and Dawn M. Rasmussen (owner, Fresh Beads) to fill 2 seats from District 27. Let's help him win this one.

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At 7:00 AM, Blogger Jon said...

I'm so proud of the work of Kevin Killer and his campaign team of Alex Flores and Liz Fossett. What an amazing set of minds.

This is yet another example of the good work of FLLA and the Young Elected Officials Network. Keep it up!

At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a future leader! I grew up in South Dakota and I remember the first time I drove through one of the reservations being shocked at the lifestyle and poverty. Pine Ridge at one point had 90% alcoholism and 90% unemployment (I'm not sure if that's improved). They banned alcohol sales on the reservation and had a rash of Lysol drinking induced injuries. The remnants of our low tech genocides lay unnoticed and ignored, especially if they are too far from a population center to build a casino. If he can emerge from that kind of environment and become a real leader, who knows where he can go?

At 9:23 AM, Blogger G.A. Traore said...

Kevin Killer, what can I say? A quiet and modest leader; whom I have known from the beginning of our YP4 journey. Since that time he has yet to stray from his values as a person and progressive leader. Greatness is his essence and he'll achieve so much in this political arena

The time is now for progressive leaders!!! Go Killer!!!

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never heard of Kevin before, but I've learned that Howie's endorsement is all I need to know. When I began reading this blog, I would check carefully that the endorsed candidates were indeed progressive. I soon learned that Howie does his homework. Thanks for all of your good work!


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