by Jack Jacobs
Local progressive activists shared strategies on how to resist the president's agenda on Presidents Day in Williamsburg.
Peninsula Indivisible, along with the support of Middle Peninsula Progressives, aimed to provide a forum for information and networking to help local people oppose Trump's administration, said Josie Soltys, a co-organizer of the event. Soltys added she wasn't politically active before Trump's triumph in November.
The event featured a number of speakers ranging from representatives of Democratic campaigns to environmental activists.
Several speakers pointed to Virginia's upcoming 2017 elections as a key moment, both to keep the state blue and as an early national indicator of Trump's support.
The governor elections in Virginia and New Jersey are the only governor contests in 2017. Coming a year after the presidential election, they're traditionally seen as an early referendum on a newly elected president.
"Virginia has an opportunity to be a bellwether," said Kelly DeLucia. DeLucia will run for the 96th House of Delegates seat against Brenda Pogge, R-Norge. Pogge has held the seat for a decade.
DeLucia urged the roughly 200 people inside the Williamsburg Players community theater to get involved if they want a change.
A similar tack was taken by Ellen Zeng, campaign manager for Susan Platt, Democratic contender for lieutenant governor.
"This is the time to stand up," Zeng said.
Platt was expected to attend the event until a scheduling issue derailed that plan, Zeng said.
Standing up to Virginia Republicans was also a talking point, as James City County Democrats chairwoman Jen Tierney told the audience that the Democrats needed to flip seats in Richmond to better protect progressive values.
Officials from both Democratic campaigns vying to win the party's primary for the governor race made appearances as well.
Quena Dailey called on support from the audience, saying the campaign of Tom Perriello needs grassroots backing. Dailey is deputy political director for Perriello's campaign.
Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam's progressive record was reiterated by his campaign's representative, Ngiste Abebe.
In addition to calls for engagement, some more practical tips were passed along as well.
Phone calls to politicians are the most effective means of having opinions heard, and letter writing to newspapers is another activist tactic, said Elly Boehmer of Environment Virginia. Environment Virginia is a state environmental group.
Cat Slade attended the event to show support for causes she favored. It's important to make a demonstration of solidarity though numbers, she said.
Slade, who has a particular interest in LGBTQ rights, said she became more political in the wake of Trump's election.
The rally was a first for Paula Durham, who had never been to such an event and said she was concerned about environmental issues.
Peninsula Indivisible has 50 active members and is part of the nationwide Indivisible movement. Members monitor legislation and write letters to support its political goals, co-organizer Jaime Hammer said.
The organization's rally came on the same day as protests against Trump under the banner of (Not My) Presidents Day in other cities.
Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.