Governance, Structure and Endorsement Processes

Purpose:

JP Progressives seeks to be a center of activity for Jamaica Plain progressives who want to engage in local, state and national electoral campaigns and to develop and advocate for progressive government policy and legislation.

Operating Principles: 

  • JPP seeks input from community members, local organizations, and coalitions who are leading campaigns and organizing efforts.
  • JPP seeks to lift up the campaigns and voices of under-represented individuals and communities to address the inequities of the community and city and the power imbalances in politics, governance, and advocacy.
  • JPP seeks to operate and build coalitions to broaden the reach of JPP and to amplify progressive campaigns.
  • JPP seeks to be a transparent organization accountable to its members and to its partners
  • JPP strives to operate in an informal and nimble structure with the minimum necessary bureaucracy to ensure the maximum time spent on mobilizing around progressive candidates and issues. 
  • JPP seeks to create a space for frank, respectful dialogue and engagement across a diversity of progressive perspectives. All are welcome. 

Governance and Structure:

As a small community based organization run by volunteers, our Governance systems are still a work in progress. We welcome input and guidance from our members. 

The governance structure for JP Progressives consists of a steering committee coordinated by co-chairs and two tiers of membership.

The Steering Committee Co-Chairs

JPP has up to three co-chairs selected by the steering committee. JPP aims to promote the leadership of women, people of color, and LBGTQ folks, and other marginalized groups. 

  • Responsibilities: Co-Chairs are responsible for serving as the primary spokespeople of the organization, chairing steering committee meetings, and coordinating agendas and other administrative functions. 
  • Elections and Terms: Co-Chairs are elected by the steering committee on a bi-annual basis for a two-year term with no term limits. Anyone serving on the Steering Committee can put themselves forward for consideration. The election for the co-chairs is slated to take place in the first quarter of every other year. 

The terms will run two years from the time of the election to the time of the election the following year (Q1 of each year) .

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee consists of a minimum of five (5) and no more than fifteen (15) members to be confirmed by the voting members of JP Progressives. JP Progressives will strive to have diverse representation in its leadership including race, ethnic, gender and political diversity. Nominees to the JPP Steering Committee members must meet the following criteria:

  • Attend at least three meetings or events of JP Progressives within a calendar year;
  • Active participation in activities related to at least one of JPP’s committees (e.g. leading or substantial volunteering, fundraising, electoral work, etc.);
    • Pay annual dues to Progressive MASS at the time of confirmation;
  • And be a registered voter
  • Exceptions may be made to ensure greater diverse representation on the Steering Committee

Minimum expectations of Steering Committee Members: 

  • Attend monthly steering committee meetings, all-hands meetings, and major events
  • Check group communications on a daily basis (on slack) including responding to polls and weighing in on an ongoing basis to key JPP decisions
  • Serve as an active member on one of the four standing, primary JPP committee or working groups: 
    • Elections
    • Volunteers (Activist Afternoon, outreach, etc.)
    • Diversity and Inclusion
    • Issue Working Groups (ad hoc)
    • Governance (ad hoc) 
    • Forums (ad hoc)
  • Commit to a ~3-5 hours work per month on a priority SC role/ activity (excluding attendance at events and meetings) including individual responsibility for an activity. 
  • Respectful engagement and prioritizing the interests of the group vs. individual perspectives.
  • Proactively disclose formal engagement with campaigns or organizations that may pose a conflict of interest with JP Progressives’ public positions. “Formal engagement” refers to paid work, volunteer work, and fundraising but not financial contributions.  

Other responsibilities include making recommendations to the voting membership for political endorsements, setting priorities for electoral and issue campaigns, and participating in general administration and coordination activities for JP Progressives. 

**we recognize people are busy and have other jobs and conflicts, we ask SC members to notify the committee when they have busy periods, etc. and identify back ups for their role. Formal leaves of absence can be requested for up to six months.

Process for Electing Steering Committee Members:

  • Each cycle, JPP will post a call for members interested in joining the Steering Committee along with the criteria; Interested individuals will submit a bio and a short written summary of their work to date and meet with members of the Steering Committee who will make a recommendation regarding nomination of interested individuals to the voting members;
  • The JP Progressives Steering Committee will make a nomination for the voting members to ratify at the Annual Meeting which will take place in Q1 of each year. Steering Committee must have consensus for all members to be put forward.  The membership vote will need to meet the same threshold, i.e. 60% of the ballots cast, as endorsement decisions;
  • All nominated Steering members will provide a short written summary of their work to date, reasons for wanting to be on the Steering Committee, and proposed activities for the coming year as background for the vote.

Governance and Terms: Steering committee members are elected to one-year terms with no term limit. Steering committee members can recall a member of the steering committee if a majority of the committee determines that to be a necessary step to preserve the cohesion of the committee. The elections will occur at the annual meeting in Q1 of each year.

Annual Meeting and Annual Strategy Priorities:

  • Steering Committee members will be voted upon as a group at the annual meeting in the Q1 of each year for another one-year term through a vote by all voting members;
  • Nominated Steering members will provide a summary of their work to date, reasons for wanting to be on the Steering Committee, and proposed activities for the coming year as background for their vote;
  • Voting members will be given an opportunity to propose and vote on key priorities for JPP in the coming year in advance of the meeting;
  • The JPP Steering Committee will propose annual priorities in Q1 of each year that voting members will ratify with an electronic vote; 
  • If there is not 60% support for either the Steering Committee slate or the direction of the organization, this indication of no-confidence from the membership will result in the creation of an ad hoc committee composed of representatives from the JPP Steering committee as well as the voting members to resolve the outstanding issues.

Steering Committee Decision Making: The steering committee strives for consensus but because many decisions require fast action and real-time responses, in order to reach resolution we make decisions with a 2/3rds majority. In most cases this is for minor decisions from scheduling to media responses. For major decisions, we engage in dialogue and seek consensus whenever possible at our monthly steering committee meetings.  

Quorum: A quorum will consist of 70% of the total number of active Steering Committee members, however for endorsement recommendations and major votes, the Steering Committee will strive to achieve 100% participation.

Steering Committee Conflicts of interest: Our leadership consists of individuals active in the political community, some of whose day jobs or personal circumstances may present conflicts of interest. Steering committee members will be asked to proactively disclose possible conflicts of interest or bias such as financial or family ties. After member disclosure, the steering committee may ask leaders to recuse themselves from activities and critical decisions that would present a conflict of interest, if necessary by a 2/3rds majority. Steering committee members paid by a campaign or working closely with a campaign will not work on forums or candidate questionnaires in a way that may unduly bias the activities or decisions of JP Progressives. When reasonable and in recognition of the importance of political involvement, the steering committee will allow leaders to maintain their activities and relationships with campaigns within and outside of the JPP alongside the organization’s involved in the endorsement process. 

JPP recognizes that members may not agree on endorsements and individuals are not prevented from continuing their personal work or advocacy that takes place outside the umbrella of JPP, including work not endorsed by JPP; however, members may not use JPP’s name or resources in such work. 

Engaging with Elected Officials

When individuals engage with candidates on behalf of JPP, such meetings should be open to all members of JPP. Otherwise, Steering Committee members should make it clear to campaigns they are engaging in an individual capacity and not as JPP. 

Data Privacy

The JPP member list will not be shared with candidates or other organizations at any time unless they are official co-sponsors (vs. supporting partners) of an event and members are notified of data sharing. Any organizing and outreach involving the JPP member list on behalf of candidates will be managed directly by leaders of JPP. When events managed by other partners, attendee data should be shared with JPP.

Voting Membership Overview

  • Voting members will have to demonstrate that they have attended at least three JP events (monthly meetings, work stream meetings, forums, candidate forums, volunteer activities, etc.).  Individuals who have volunteered for at least one activity organized by JP Progressives in the past year will be automatically granted voting status. JPP tracks participation and will automatically notify you if you have achieved voting status.
  • While not required for voting status, we strongly encourage all members that have the financial means to become a dues paying member of Progressive MA (there is no minimum payment required). Progressive Mass plays an important role in providing information, research and organizing support for its chapters. Similarly, the activity requirements for JP Progressives stand whether or not an individual is a dues paying member of Progressives MA.
  • Engagement Expectations: Attend at least 3 events annually and/or 1 volunteer event (hopefully much more!); attend JP Progressives Annual meeting.
  • Benefits: voting status on steering committee leadership and endorsements; ability to join and nominate others for the JP Progressives Steering committee.

General Membership Overview:

Anyone from the greater community, not necessarily limited to JP, is welcome to attend our events, engage in dialogue, make requests of JP Progressive Steering Committee members, and sign up for our mailing list.

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JP Progressives Endorsement Process

JP Progressives endorsement decisions will be made through a two-step process including a recommendation by the JP Progressives Steering Committee and a vote of the voting members of JP Progressives.  Since JP Progressives is a Chapter/ Affiliate of Progressive MASS, the Candidate Endorsement Criteria listed below are based on Progressive MASS with a few minor changes to reflect the nature of our organization.

JP Progressives will only issue endorsements for offices representing Jamaica Plain, including City, County, State, or National Elections or Ballot Initiatives. In the event of City, County, State, or National elections The Steering Committee of JP Progressives will determine which races the organization will choose to confer an endorsement to a candidate in the race, or may choose to withhold endorsement. The Steering Committee will endeavor to make a recommendation to the voting membership of JP Progressives regarding endorsement or no endorsement on all races where residents of JP are represented. 

Any member of JP Progressives can request the steering committee consider an endorsement. 

There are two levels of endorsement and associated processes by JP Progressives. For focus races, JPP will strive to have a full endorsement process. For other races, we may have an abbreviated process.

Focus Races Other Races
President

Senate

Congress

Governor 

Mayor 

City Council – District 

City Council – At Large 

State Representative

State Senator

Secretary of State

Attorney General

District Attorney

Sheriff

Lt. Governor

State Treasurer

State Auditor

Governor’s Council

Registry of Deeds 

Clerk of Courts

Register of Probate

Clerk of Superior Court (civil and criminal)

Clerk of Supreme Judicial Court

Endorsement Process Steps:

Once the steering committee makes a decision to engage in a full endorsement process, the steps are as follows:

  • Meeting of the Steering Committee with the candidate 
  • Issue a survey to candidates (for state races where we may leverage these existing processes for collecting information on candidate positions). We have established a set of criteria upon which we will seek candidate input (see list below). We welcome input on these surveys but may not always have time to engage in a deliberative process.
  • We will seek to be as inclusive as possible in our consideration of candidates. We will only issue questionnaires or invite to forums candidates who have pulled official papers,i.e. have an active OCPF account, and a campaign website.
  • Wherever possible, we will seek to host candidate forums. We strive to meet the candidates early, often and locally and we will work hard to find dates that will allow both candidates to be present. If one candidate does not agree to participate, we will still offer the remaining candidates an opportunity to engage the JPP community. In the absence of a forum, we will seek to share video footage or written responses to our questionnaire or from a like-minded organization.
  • We will strive to host a post-forum discussion with the community to discuss candidate feedback. If possible, we will provide a mechanism to extend this conversation to an online forum with our members.
  • Upon collection of this feedback, the Steering Committee will make a recommendation to the voting membership along with a survey where our membership can ratify the steering committee  recommendation or vote for their preferred candidate.
  • In races where there are 3 or more candidates, we will employ ranked choice voting and the candidate that receives more than 60% of the vote will receive the JP Progressive Endorsement. 
  • In races where there are only 2 candidates, JP Progressives will only endorse if a candidate receives more than 60% support from voting members
  • For all races, voting members will have the opportunity to vote for “no endorsement.”
  • We will seek to give our members a minimum of 5 days, and ideally a minimum of 10 days, for the voting process whenever the timeline allows.
  • We will issue three reminders to our membership for voting members to complete the vote.

Endorsement Process for “other” races (i.e. non key races per chart above):

JP Progressives may have an abbreviated endorsement process for Candidates who we have previously endorsed that are also uncontested. This abbreviated process may be limited to research and a recommendation by the Steering Committee and an up or down vote by the voting members of JPP. Examples of non-key races are outlined in the chart above. The JPP Steering Committee will not make an endorsement unless this minimum process has been implemented.

Re-Endorsement Process:

For candidates previously endorsed by JPP running in competitive races, the JPP Steering Committee can also opt for an abbreviated endorsement process. For competitive races, the Steering Committee will usually default to its traditional endorsement process. However, an abbreviated process would, at minimum, include reviewing the candidate’s record or holding a candidate conversation with a JP Progressives body, either the Steering Committee or the General Membership. The primary difference is that we may not have a questionnaire or forum with our members with candidates for these offices. We will then make a recommendation to our membership and hold a ratification vote by our membership with the standard 60% threshold requirement. 

Non Endorsements and Anti-Endorsements:

For a variety of reasons, JP Progressives may choose not to endorse in some races or may issue an anti-endorsement. An anti-endorsement may focus on an individual or individuals we do not believe should be elected rather than deciding between remaining candidates. The reasons for an anti-endorsement may include amplifying the endorsements of specific candidates, especially at the preliminary stage of a race. The reasons for a non-endorsement may be intentional or related to limited time resources and capacity, particularly in cases where there is an uncontested race. The decision not to endorse in a race or to issue a non-endorsement can come at any stage in the JPP endorsement process i.e. prior or following issuing or reviewing a questionnaire, holding a public forum, before or after the Steering Committee recommendation to members.

Benefits to the Endorsed Candidate from JPP:

The JP Progressives Steering Committee shall make a strategic determination as to the best allocation of its resources to meet election needs. As an all-volunteer organization, we prioritize voter education, but where capacity allows, we also seek to mobilize around our endorsed candidates and initiatives. However, all endorsed candidates will receive the following benefits:

  • Permission to cite the endorsement in campaign statements and in literature.
  • Distribution of endorsement statements to the JP Progressive membership.

Furthermore, based on strategic allocation of available resources, candidates for competitive races endorsed by the Committee may receive the following additional support:

  • A press release by the Steering Committee announcing its endorsement.
  • Campaign activities organized by the Steering Committee (to be determined in consultation with the endorsed candidate’s campaign) that may include participation in phone-banks, door knocking, poll checking, fundraising, and other activities deemed necessary.

JPP Expectations of Endorsed Candidates:

We expect candidates endorsed by JP Progressives to adhere to the endorsed policies and values. We ask endorsed candidates to engage with members of JP Progressives as part of a dedicated forum or a jointly organized forum with members of allied organizations to report back on progress.

Candidate Endorsement Consideration Criteria

Though we use the term “criteria,” JP Progressives will institute no absolutes or litmus tests on candidates.  Rather, this document states values, principles and factors to consider in determining an endorsement.  The word “criteria” may be stronger than we intend, but it does emphasize the importance of the points stated below, even if no single criterion might be considered a “deal breaker” in a given circumstance.  Note that we have differentiated the criteria listed below from specific issues to consider when endorsing, which are listed at the end without prioritization.  These issues are intentionally broad, as each campaign will present unique considerations.  When JP Progressives goes through its process to determine our issue priorities, this list may be revised and prioritized.

  • Committed to building the progressive movement.  An endorsed candidate’s vision of success extends beyond winning elections and being in power.  An endorsed candidate sees it as an essential part of their role to take leadership in strengthening civic engagement and leadership, inspiring commitment to progressive values, and broadening people’s access to power and decision-making at all levels.
  • Committed to taking leadership.  An endorsed candidate is consistently willing to take bold leadership actions to advance progressive values and policies.  That includes sponsoring legislation, public advocacy, and organizing colleagues around progressive legislation.  An endorsed candidate should not have a track record of actions or votes that directly contradict stated progressive values.
  • Committed to expanding democratic discourse. An endorsed candidate participates in candidate debates and cooperates with constituent requests for meetings or positions on policy questions.
  • Committed to advancing antiracism.  An endorsed candidate understands and is active in advancing antiracist policy making and leadership of color at all levels of civic participation and governance.  An endorsed candidate takes leadership in addressing racial inequities during their campaign, within their district, and in society at large.  An endorsed candidate sees advancing racial justice as a cornerstone of what it means to be progressive.
  • Committed to advancing economic justice.   An endorsed candidate takes leadership in standing up for middle class and low-income families and individuals.  A candidate takes leadership in advancing equitable economic, monetary, and tax policies that benefit the vast majority (the 99%) of our residents.
  • Committed to advancing systemic reform.   An endorsed candidate understands that many of our society’s problems stem from flaws in underlying systems, values, and popular beliefs that cannot be addressed by short term measures that merely postpone or conceal an underlying problem.   An endorsed candidate expresses long- and short-term strategies that prioritize and address these problems.  
  • Has a viable campaign or role.  An endorsed candidate is running a serious campaign and can express a realistic — even if difficult — path to victory or whose participation is important to shaping the issues of the race. Serious candidates should be able to explain their reason for running, the reasons that voters will support them, and how they’re superior to other candidates. They should also have the basic campaign infrastructure in place, e.g. website, social media, online donation capabilities, OCPF report filings, etc.
  • Background, history, and/or track record aligns with our values.  An endorsed candidate is able to point to specific examples in their past to show how they have advanced stated progressive values.
  • Is able to articulate progressive positions on issues.  An endorsed candidate will be able to express an understanding of progressive positions on specific issues.
  • Expands the voting base.  An endorsed candidate has the ability to expand the base to those voters who often choose to stay home, rather than participate in elections.  Preferably, said candidate will also have the track record to prove the point.
  • Campaign contributions from organizations/ entities whose values are contrary to progressives policy positions e.g. fossil fuel industry, etc.
  • Incumbent has taken tough votes and built a strong track record over time.  It is often far easier to fall for the candidate who talks a good game but has not shown they can do it once in office.  A strong incumbent earning JP Progressives’ endorsement has shown that they are willing to fight for, take leadership on, and vote in support of progressive values, even in tough circumstances. JP Progressives recognizes that to be effective, legislators may occasionally need to compromise to accomplish goals.  JP Progressives will take that into consideration; however, JP Progressives generally will not look kindly on incumbents who act against previously espoused progressive values for the sake of expediency or to please leadership. 

Issues Areas to Consider When Endorsing Candidates:

  • Progressive Taxation
  • Single Payer Healthcare
  • Affordable Housing
  • Public Education Funding
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Police Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Voter rights/ Electoral Reform
  • Universal Childcare
  • Abortion Rights
  • Climate Action
  • Environmental Issues and Justice
  • Civil Rights: Antiracism, LGBTQ+ rights, disability rights, gender equity
  • Just Wages
  • Labor and Union Rights
  • Immigration Reform
  • Corporate Accountability
  • Progressive Foreign Policy/ Peace
  • Veterans’ Issues
  • Investing in Infrastructure
  • Transportation & Transportation Equity
  • Judicial Appointment Philosophy