Endorsement: Progressive Portland

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been endorsed as Progressive Portland’s #1 ranked-choice candidate for District 5 City Council.

“Kate is a champion for workers getting better benefits and for targeted senior property tax relief. She will be a breath of fresh air for District 5.”

Progressive Portland

Their endorsement means a lot to me because I believe that the Progressive Portland Scorecard, which has been watch-dogging the City Council for years for progressive voters, is one of the most valuable civic-engagement tools we have. I literally keep a folder on my desk with hard copies of all of the past scorecards in it for quick reference. It gives a birds-eye view of what the City Council accomplishes each year, and it’s how I hold councilors accountable to their stated values and campaign promises. I hope you’ll do the same with mine!

Endorsement: Southern Maine Labor Council

I’m proud to receive the endorsement of the Southern Maine Labor Council, and I honor the workers whose labor is the foundation of life in our city. Everything we love about Portland depends on labor: the water we drink and the food we eat; the sidewalks, roads, and bridges that connect us; the education our children receive; the entertainment that sustains our spirit, and the uncompensated domestic and emotional labor that so many of us do in order to make other work possible. There is no capital without labor!

The Southern Maine Labor Council is dedicated to the more effective organization of working men and women; to the securing to them of full recognition and enjoyment of the rights to which they are justly entitled; to the achievement of ever higher standards of living and working conditions; to the attainment of security for all the people; to the enjoyment of the leisure which their skills make possible; and to the strengthening and extension of the fundamental freedoms which are the basis of a democratic society.

New voices. No fear.

As a community organizer, I’ve worked on a number of grassroots campaigns here in Portland. One of the first was for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in all city elections.

Ranked Choice Voting makes it possible for candidates who are not a part of the political establishment and who have new ideas and different approaches to policy making to run without fear of creating a spoiler effect. I’m one of those candidates in the race for District 5 City Council, and so the candidates who spoke at the New Leaf Candidate Forum on October 1.

If you missed the forum, you can catch the full event at the link above. I’ve excerpted a few of my answers below.

Time to Take out the Trash.

Sometimes knowing exactly what a candidate stands for can be tricky. That’s why we made Trash Talk, a handy sorting guide to what Kate thinks Portland needs to toss out, and what we should do instead to make Portland a great place to live and work, not just to visit or invest in.

If you live in District 5, you’ll be getting one on your regularly scheduled garbage pick-up day. After you read it, just drop it in the bin for recycling–and don’t forget to vote for Kate!

TONIGHT @7PM Portland Education Association (PEA) Candidate Forum

Tune in this evening at 7PM to the Portland Education Association (PEA) Zoom forum with candidates for school board and city council in Portland’s District 5.

“Portland Public Schools are facing a challenging time ahead. As the pandemic continues to stress district resources, we must organize against austerity budgets and defend our schools from private corporations seeking to gain a market foothold within our public schools. I will work with educators, staff, parents, students, and community groups to build the power necessary to fulfill and expand the Portland Promise.”

Kate Sykes

Candidate Questionnaire Responses

The PEA believes that our schools work best when they are supported by the local community and elected officials. We feel strongly that front-line educator voices provide invaluable insight into the successes and challenges our schools face, especially in such tumultuous times. Please share the specific ways you ALREADY communicate with PEA educators. *

As a member and former Co-Chair of the Maine DSA, and a member of the Southern Maine Labor Council and Southern Maine Workers Center, I have contact with several PEA/MEA educators personally and am in touch with announcements that are made through those channels.

If elected, in what specific ways do you plan to expand your communication with PEA educators? *

I am running a campaign not just to win a seat on the Council but to organize our community to build power to enforce the demands of the people who live here. When elected I will dissolve the power of my office into the community by opening a community organizing office in my district and rolling out online channels for people to discuss issues, reach decisions and write policy. Teachers all over the country are raising the bar on power-building in the community, through social justice organizing and bargaining for the common good, which brings grassroots coalitions together to support teachers. Any PEA effort to involve parents and community groups in negotiating for better work conditions, wages, benefits, and school-based services will be naturally aligned with my campaign goals, and I look forward to working together to organize for power.

Please describe experiences you’ve had supporting public education and/or public school students and staff. What roles have you played, and how long were you active in each role? *

I’ve been involved in labor organizing in Maine for the last four years as an ancillary activity to my work as a writer and community organizer. Through Maine DSA, I initiated solidarity strike support for Westbrook teachers in response to a call for action a couple of years ago, however a contract negotiation was reached before any action was necessary. I’ve worked on several political campaigns for candidates whose platforms were strong on public education, and I follow and support the labor organizing efforts of teachers through my union.

The PEA is concerned that funding for public education has not provided what is needed in our schools. In 2004, Maine voters passed a referendum requiring the state to pay 55% of the cost of public education. Since then, the state has failed to meet its commitment (although they have recently improved) forcing schools to either cut programs and/or to pass the expenses for maintaining them to local property owners. Do you support the results of the citizens’ referendum of 2004 requiring the state to pay 55% of the cost of public education in Maine? Why or why not? *

Yes. I support full funding for public schools and oppose efforts to privatize schools through charter schools and the introduction of corporate and non-profit partnerships into public schools. The failure of the state to meet its commitment is really a failure of organization on the ground between teachers, parents, labor unions, faith communities and other grass roots organizations to work together to build the power needed to enforce the demand. It’s not enough to rely on one political Party or another to save us, we must organize and make it clear that no party can hold power if they do not uphold the will of the people.

If elected, we will likely face a further budget challenge because of the effects COVID is having on the federal, state, and local economies. Please describe your priorities and process for reviewing the budget that will be put forward by PPS next year. *

The current process for writing the budget in Portland is structurally undemocratic. It is written by un-elected bureaucrats and presented to the council for approval with no input from the people whom it most affects or the leaders elected to represent them. With my one measly vote, I will support a budget that teachers support, but I will also agitate for a change to the process to include participatory budgeting. I will also organize on the ground and use my connections with allied groups to enforce those demands.

Do you support the right of public school employees to bargain collectively? *

Yes.

The PEA supports the Portland Promise, which seeks to narrow the opportunity gap by promoting equity and whole student interventions that seek to mitigate the dramatic toll that factors like racial injustice, poverty, and trauma can take on our students and their families. If elected, what actions can you take to specifically address these three issues? *

Implementing universal pre-K is an important first step in narrowing the achievement gap. School-based community centers should also include health clinics, adult education for ELL, and other parental and community support services that help disadvantaged children succeed.

Endorsed by Southern Maine DSA

I’m excited to announce that Southern Maine DSA has endorsed our campaign!

I joined the Democratic Socialist of America after the 2016 election, because I was disillusioned with national politics and wanted to plug into a community that was doing something to fight against the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics. I’ve since served on the Steering Committee as the chapter’s Secretary and Co-Chair and participated in a number of local campaigns and committee projects. Through my work with DSA, I’ve met hundreds of smart, supportive, and uplifting comrades–right here in Portland, and across the state and country–who share the same vision of a world organized around care and cooperation, not fear and competition. We are able to accomplish so much in DSA because we share those values, and we trust each other even when the work gets hard.

These are difficult, confusing, and frightening times for many people, but human beings have survived this long as a species because we are social animals: we work together for the common good. In times of great uncertainty, I believe we need to turn to the people around us–not to the politicians or the pundits–to co-create the solutions. That’s why I’m running a campaign to build a Portland in common. We are a vibrant city full of diverse and compassionate people. Together we can set a new course.

Endorsement: Equity In Portland Schools

Today I’m proud to announce that Equity In Portland Schools has endorsed our campaign…

We endorse Kate Sykes for City Council District 5! She was an organizer with the Fair Elections Portland campaign for Ranked Choice Voting and Public Campaign Financing to bring more consensus, transparency, and accountability to city elections. As Co-Chair of Maine Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Kate helped to forge a strategic partnership with the Keep Portland Healthy campaign for Paid Sick Days for all workers. She is currently an organizer with People First Portland, a campaign to pass five ballot initiatives this fall. Kate’s track record of working for social justice is proven and impressive. She will be a strong voice in City Hall for all.

“The most effective long-term public safety and economic recovery strategy Portland can implement is high-quality, equitable public schools.”

Kate Sykes

You’re not alone.

I’m Kate Sykes, and today I’m launching our Common Sense, Common Ground campaign for District 5 City Council.

This page is the place to find news about the campaign, statements on current events, opportunities to volunteer, and profiles of the incredible District 5 organizers who are working to make Portland a great place to work, live, and raise a family.

You can check out my bio page to learn more about me, what motivated me to run for office (and why there’s a fish in my logo) but at the end of the day, this campaign isn’t about me. It’s about all of us here in District 5.

Real democracy can only be built on common ground, and finding it starts by speaking from our own experiences and listening to our neighbors. I invite you to share your concerns, ideas, and the volunteer work you’re already doing to strengthen our community by taking this quick survey. I’ll contact you to schedule a call to learn more.

I’ve talked to many of you already and been so inspired by the work you’re doing that I want to share your stories so they can inspire others. None of us is alone in our hopes for a better future.

Let’s build a Portland in common!

Kate