Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meet David Segal (D-RI)


Our friends at PCCC have never sounded so excited and committed about anything as when they called us to tell us about a congressional candidate they had found in Rhode Island. David Segal isn't just one of those "but he's better than the alternative" kinds of candidates. Helping elect David Segal isn't like blocking a conservative like Blanche Lincoln or Marco Rubio. David Segal is one of us. He was elected to the Providence City Council in 2002 as a Green, and is now a lefty Democratic state Rep for Providence and East Providence. He has a very clear path to victory and he can win-- and if he does, he'll be among the strongest voices for progressives in the halls of the Capitol.

David's worked on the meat-and-potato issues: Jobs, the environment, housing, progressive taxes, all with success. He's successfully pushed for expanded renewable energy, more affordable housing, against predatory lending, and for foreclosure prevention measures.

But he's never shied away from the really controversial issues: He's been a vocal leader on criminal justice reform, standing up for the rights of immigrants and for gay rights, and has pushed as hard as one can from the state level against war spending. He's an ardent supporter of gay marriage, and was the sponsor of the last year's bill, which was passed over the Governor's veto, to allow gay partners to plan each other's funerals.

He's a co-sponsor of marijuana decriminalization, and just convinced the Governor-- after two years of vetoes-- to allow a bill to become law that ensures due process for people on probation.

He's sponsored the "Bring the Guard Home" legislation, and his first act on the City Council was to pass a resolution against the war in Iraq.

But, most importantly, he's an organizer at heart, who is committed to joining the Progressive Caucus-- and making it function better. Here's an excerpt from an interview with David Swanson:
"[I]n Rhode Island I've tried to develop alternative structures for legislators to lean on when the leadership makes such threats. I am the lead organizer for our progressive caucus. I founded a political action committee to support members of our progressive caucus so that if funding from sources dries up at leadership's request because something was done to offend them, that we would have at least some, some degree of money to fall back on to help fund our campaigns nonetheless. We funded ten, twelve races relatively modestly in the last cycle and hopefully we'll be able to do something in the forthcoming cycle.
And it's working. Progressives have been building power in Rhode Island: Last year they stood up strong together to block the passage of the state's budget until $25 million (a lot in RI terms) for city services and education funding were restored, and until they'd secured a promise that the capital gains tax structure would be made more progressive-- which it was, a month later.

A bill requiring that almost all employers in the state make use of the fascistic E-Verify program to check the immigration status of potential employees passed the House on a 53-17 vote in 2008 (it was killed by the Senate). The progressives held firm, pushed back, and in 2009 the bill passed on just a 38-33 vote, making it clear that support had waned, and ensuring its final death in the Senate.

David said this on the floor that day: “There were hundreds of thousands or millions of immigrants who came here without papers. If your parents or grandparents came here before the 1920s, they could not have come here illegally because there were no restrictions on immigration from the west. People put these laws in place for the first time because they did not like people with names like Pacheco or Ferri or Segal, swarthy dimwits that we were. Quite simply, in passing this legislation we are upholding and strengthening the legacies of those who first restricted immigration and they did it because they didn't like people like us. They didn't like our parents, they didn't like our grandparents and I am not willing to do that.”"

And how's this for a trump card in a candidates' debate: David's sued one of his current opponents, by name-- and won. When the Mayor of Providence persistently refused to enforce a law requiring developers receiving municipal funds to try to hire locally, David organized his council colleagues to sue in Superior Court for stronger enforcement, ensuring more jobs for the inner-city that was fronting the dough for the projects.

David is one of us, and he's exactly what we need in Congress. After eight years as an elected official he's proven, time and again, that he knows how to get things done while standing firmly behind his staunchly progressive values-- and help other progressives stand up stronger. Please join me in supporting his cause.

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At 3:32 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great post! Segal is an incredible candidate. Would that we had choices like him in every race!


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