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Our Future On the Ballot #5

Heading into the highest-stakes election of our lifetimes, The Appeal launched a newsletter called Our Future on the Ballot, covering insurgent candidates across the country, their elections, and what's at stake.


In today’s issue, we’ll cover:

  • Breaking news: Allister Adel, Maricopa County’s top prosecutor, flip flops on prosecuting abortion cases.
  • Meet the slate of transformative candidates running to shake up the criminal courts in New Orleans.
  • Plus: Flipping Arizona from Red to Blue, flipping the Supreme Courts in Ohio and Michigan, and more news from around the country.

BREAKING NEWS FROM ARIZONA:

  • Earlier this week, we covered a new polling memo from The Justice Collaborative Institute and Data For Progress, which showed that Maricopa County voters would be more likely to support a head prosector who pledges not to prosecute women for seeking an abortion.
  • The Appeal also hosted a discussion between Julie Gunnigle, the Democratic candidate for Maricopa County Attorney, state representative Athena Salman, and the Executive Director of Arizona’s Planned Parenthood on the issue of criminalizing abortion. Here is Julie Gunnigle pledging on the show to not prosecute a woman for her healthcare decisions:

  • Today, in an article published by The Appeal’s Meg O’Connor, Republican incumbent Allister Adel, who, despite saying multiple times that she would prosecute these cases, reversed her position, telling The Appeal via her campaign spokesperson: “She will not prosecute a woman for their health care decisions.”

A SLATE OF TRANSFORMATIVE CANDIDATES ARE RUNNING FOR JUDICIAL SEATS IN NEW ORLEANS, PLEDGING TO END CASH BAIL AND SHAKE UP THE SYSTEM.

  • JAZZ, JULEPS, AND JAILS. When most people think of New Orleans, they imagine the exquisite sounds of trumpets playing at Jazz Fest, the striking colors and crowded French Quarter streets filled with Mardi Gras revelers, and some of the best food and drink in the world. Alongside these chart toppers is a more dismal ranking as one of the most incarcerated cities in the world.
  • JUDGES PLAY A BIG ROLE IN WHO GOES TO JAIL OR NOT. Judges in New Orleans make decisions on whether a person is locked up before their trial, how long a person will ultimately spend in jail or prison, and whether to saddle a population of mostly impoverished people with exorbitantly high fines and fees. You might not be shocked to learn that the current judicial occupants on the bench, and their predecessors, are some of the architects and biggest proponents of the incarceration crisis in New Orleans. 
  • CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO. A transformational slate of candidates are running to be one of those judges. Before we tell you about who these candidates are exactly, you should know two things. First, these races often are uncontested in any serious way, meaning that judges remain on the bench forrrrrrrever. According to The Advocate / Times Picayune, the last time an incumbent district court judge lost a re-election bid was in the early 1970s. Second, people who spend their lives representing impoverished and working people—people facing eviction, people facing jail time–rarely become judges. So, multiple candidates running for contested judicial seats in New Orleans, all of whom are people who have spent their career representing vulnerable and working people, is an extraordinary opportunity to create change in the criminal legal system.
  • MEET THE SLATE. There are seven candidates–Derwyn BuntonAngel HarrisSteve SingerGraham BosworthNandi CampbellTenee FelixMeg Garvey–running on a shared platform that includes, for example, largely ending the use of cash bail. Hear from three of those candidates:
    • Derwyn Bunton, current head of the Orleans Public Defenders, told The Appeal that he’s running for judge because of the deep inequality in the criminal legal system:

“This is personal to me. I don’t walk through stores with my hands in my pockets and I don’t do that because as a little boy, I put my hands in my pockets in the grocery store. My mom struck me across the back and told me, ‘Get your hands out of your pockets! You’re a young black boy. People will think you’re stealing.’”

  • Angel Harris has spent her career working on policing reform and on behalf of people on death row and children serving life without parole sentences. She recently joined The Appeal to discuss why she’s running:

“We’re still hearing that New Orleans leads the nation in wrongful convictions. Why is that so? Why not try something new? Why not give everyone equal access to justice? Why not provide alternatives to incarceration? Why not stop the criminalization of poverty?”

  • Steve Singer is a retired Professor of Law at Loyola University who, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, led the effort to reform and rebuild the Orleans Public Defender’s Office. Steve told The Appeal that he has pledged to reject money from the bail bonds industry that profits from a cash bail system that jails people only because they cannot afford to pay for their freedom:

“My opponent is the candidate that’s been put up by the bail bondsman… They’re one of the largest contributors in Louisiana to judicial campaigns and to state legislators. And the reason they do that is to keep themselves in business.”


THINGS WE ARE TRACKING:

  • Flipping Arizona from Red to Blue. The Appeal’s Meg O’Connor published an article on how Democrats could break the Republican trifecta in Arizona if they successfully flip key seats in the state’s House and/or Senate. Included among these candidates is Coral Evans, the current mayor of Flagstaff, running for the Arizona House’s 6th District, who gained notoriety earlier this year for defying Governor Doug Ducey’s orders to keep public spaces open by becoming the first mayor to close bars, schools, and restaurants. Evans is running on a platform of economic justice, a $15 minimum wage, and adequate funding for childhood and education.
  • Mondaire Jones, the Democratic nominee to represent New York’s 17th Congressional District, was spotlighted in a one-on-one with The Appeal in which he spoke about his plans to bring “big structural changes” to the halls of Congress. He told The Appeal’s Lauren Gill, “There are two primary problems with our criminal legal system and one is systemic racism, and the other is an overreliance on policing as a means to obtain public safety.”
  • Eliseo Santana, a candidate to become Pinellas County Sheriff, the Florida county’s top law enforcement official, joined The Appeal’s Our Future On the Ballot to discuss police accountability and decriminalizing homelessness and mental illnesses.
  • Supreme Flip? As reported by The Appeal, Democrats have the opportunity to flip the Supreme Courts in Ohio and Michigan, which would make a critical difference on gerrymandering, voting rights and other key issues.
  • Shemia Fagan, a candidate for Oregon Secretary of State, was endorsed by The Willamette Week and The Bend Bulletin this week. She was previously endorsed by the state’s largest paper, The Oregonian. As The Willamette Week points out: Fagan has “proven a vocal advocate for expanding access to voting, including prepaid postage for voter registration of anyone who uses the DMV.” Fagan recently appeared on The Appeal’s Our Future On The Ballot.
  • Sarah Iannarone, the candidate challenging embattled Portland, Oregon, mayor Ted Wheeler, sat down with Street Roots to discuss the homelessness crisis and the need to “move beyond the binary of housed neighborhoods and NIMBYism” in thinking about community safety solutions that work for all Portlanders, regardless of housing status. Tomorrow, The Appeal is hosting a candidate forum between Wheeler and Iannarone, at 12:00 ET. 
  • Terra Lawson-Remer, a progressive challenger whose race provides an opportunity to flip the San Diego County Board of Supervisors from Red to Blue. Her Climate Action Plan calls for 90% clean energy by 2030 and using county lands for affordable housing. In a recent interview with The San Diego Union Tribune, Lawson-Remer said that “we sit at the intersection of a climate and housing crisis giving us not only the opportunity, but the responsibility to reimagine a San Diego for the next generation.”

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