WHEN's Successes and Problems
is a great model for any aspiring political group and this article
highlights some of the issues they face in growing. Of particular interest to me is:
Despite steering committee members' belief that WHEN should endorse a candidate in this race to fill the Statehouse seat vacated by Peter J. Larkin, the membership recently voted down the move, by a margin of 33 to 26.
Steering committee members call that move the organization's biggest disappointment thus far.
"That seat affects the city profoundly," Stokes said.
The issue for some WHEN members was who to endorse in the primary, with two women seeking the nomination -- Councilor-At-Large Pam Malumphy, who was endorsed by WHEN in her race for City Council in 2003, and Rhonda Serre, U.S. Rep. John W. Olver's economic development specialist, who is personally backed by O'Brien.
"It's politics. It is hard to make choices," Stokes said.
O'Brien, who stepped down from the steering committee while the decision was being made, said it is unlikely that WHEN will now endorse a candidate in the general election.
"It left WHEN adrift. We missed our chance," O'Brien said. "The election is going to happen and we're not there."
I very much wish WHEN had decided to endorse, but not being a member, it's easy for me to say that. This election had the potential to split WHEN and no one election is really worth that. It does cast the organization as a city-focussed one. The article also states that other MA communities are looking to form their own WHEN-like groups:
Since that time, WHEN members have spoken to several groups interested in forming a similar organization in other parts of the state, including a group called WIN in Westfield and another in Northampton. WHEN leaders have spoken to the League of Women Voters in Williamstown, presented forums at Berkshire Community College and met with politically-active students.
Overall, a very interesting article about what it takes to start and maintain a politically active organization, and worth a look.