Voters for Change, explained

I am writing in response to Mr. Joe Spadaro’s letter that appeared in last Thursday’s (June 27) Adirondack Daily Enterprise. As this is the second time Mr. Spadaro has referred to our organization, Adirondack Voters for Change, within the past year, I feel it is necessary to answer his question about who we are and what we stand for. The easiest way to begin is to look at a summarization of the vision and mission statements from our AVfC bylaws:

“AVfC supports changes in government and our society as a whole that give all people equally the right to a safe and adequate standard of living while embracing diversity in all respects. … We are issues-oriented and seek to achieve change through citizen engagement. We work through the means of the United States’ democratic system and hold it accountable for caring equally for all people, protecting our earth’s environment, as well as striving to solve problems through the peaceful means of dialogue, education and consensus. … AVfC works to accomplish our mission through holding open community meetings and exchanges and informational presentations, expressing our viewpoints and those of like-minded individuals and groups through the use of letter-writing, phone calls and other media campaigns and organizing, sponsoring and participating in peaceful protests and marches.”

A few of the important issues that AVfC has recently been addressing to hopefully enact change include:

¯ Climate change — AVfC sponsored a Climate Action symposium in Saranac Lake at the First Presbyterian Church, publicly screened the film “Age of Consequences” at the Saranac Laboratory Museum and supported Saranac Laje High School students who participated in a “walkout” to promote action to reverse climate change.

¯ Voting reform — AVfC has advocated for changes in voting regulations and has actively registered voters (regardless of political affiliations) at our storefront last fall and at local colleges and other community locations.

¯ Opioids in our community — AVfC co-sponsored a community forum at the Saranac Lake Free Library regarding the opioid crisis in our local communities which helped lead to the formation of the Tri-Lakes Community for Addiction Prevention.

¯ Single-payer health care for all — AVfC sponsored a health care forum in the Harrietstown Town Hall last year, and AVfC members continue to travel to Albany to lobby in support of the New York State Health Act.

¯ Medical Aid in Dying — AVfC sponsored a community forum at the Saranac Lake Free Library in support of medical aid in dying legislation, for which AVfC members and other community members continue to lobby and attend public hearings for in Albany.

¯ Gun safety — AVfC members have also advocated for sensible gun-safety regulations and supported Saranac Lake students who participated in a “walkout” against gun violence and walked “Miles like Martin” on the SLHS track to support Saranac Lake Central School District students and teachers who participated in a “National Day of Action against Gun Violence in Schools.”

I could go on and on about the many local protests and marches AVfC members have helped organize or participated in regarding such diverse issues as our inhumane immigration policies and an unethical replacement of our attorney general, and of the sponsorship of other public discussions over the years regarding topics such as road salt pollution, current issues in public education and even monarch butterflies, but I feel activities like those above illustrate how AVfC has been working to enact governmental and societal changes locally, state-wide and nationally.

Regarding AVfC endorsement of political candidates, Mr. Spadaro hints that AVfC only supports Democrats, regardless of who is running. AVfC is not affiliated with any political party and only endorses candidates who request our endorsement (other than national presidential or senatorial candidates) and who meet our endorsement guidelines. At present we have not endorsed anyone for the upcoming fall election cycle. In regard to our successful 21st Congressional District Candidates Forum held at the SLHS auditorium last year, all candidates were invited, and all accepted (including the Green Party candidate and Republican Russ Finley, who unfortunately dropped out of the race just before the event) except for Republican Elise Stefanik. Additionally, AVfC did endorse a Republican candidate a while back whose hard work and dedication we appreciated, and because of her positive stance on LGBTQ rights.

And finally, we are extremely pleased with recent positive changes made by the current New York State Legislature in the areas of voting rights, women’s health and reproductive rights, green climate legislation and responsible gun safety measures. We hope that our actions may have influenced in some small way these decisions and that these measures will spread to other states and nationally. We were disappointed that the NYS Health Act and medical aid in dying legislation did not come up for a vote, but we will continue to work on these initiatives. We also applaud the village of Saranac Lake for seeking and obtaining designation as a Climate Smart Community.

We ask that if anyone has further questions about Adirondack Voters for Change or would like to become a member or receive our newsletter to email us at vfc2014ny@gmail.com, check out our Facebook page or call 518-891-0805.

Jim Abendroth lives in Bloomingdale and is president of Adirondack Voters for Change.