DECISION 2004: HATS OFF TO THE "TOWN HALL"!

(Click on photos for larger picture)

AFSCME International provided a unique opportunity for its members and the world by making our Presidential Town Hall Meeting, held in Des Moines, Iowa in May, 2003, a candid, friendly exchange between the Democratic candidates and working Americans. Secretary-Treasurer Lucy urged the candidates to focus on the enemy, not each other, and the format encouraged that. The real "enemy" was not in the room: We are weary of an administration whose rhetoric, photo-ops and flag waving conceal their contempt for working Americans, especially public employees and union members. The enthusiastic, attentive audience realized that each of the nine candidates understands the needs of America and Americans far better than the current administration. AFSCME again proved that we are the best!

Iowa Triumph: AFSCME Meets the Presidential Candidates

May 19, 2003

 

Pres. McEntee at AFSCME Town Hall Meeting
Pres. McEntee moderated the
AFSCME Town Hall Meeting

America's political gaze focused on AFSCME as the nine Democratic Presidential candidates displayed their wares at our Town Hall Meeting in Des Moines. They faced an enthusiastic, involved audience of almost 1,000 members, several of whom asked pointed questions about the issues that matter most to us: health care, the fiscal crisis, Bush's tax cuts and the national economy, corporate accountability, the right to organize, homeland security and more. President McEntee, serving as moderator, posed follow-up questions, ensuring that no simplistic replies were allowed to stand.

In the morning, seven candidates made in-person presentations: U.S. Sens. John Edwards (N.C.) and Bob Graham (Fla.), former Senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.), U.S. Reps. Richard Gephardt (Mo.) and Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), former Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.) and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York. They responded to queries posed from the floor by many members. Asking questions in behalf of the entire union were New York City EMT Joseph Conzo, University of California custodial worker Patricia Segrest, Minnesota probation officer Patrick Guernsey (Local 552), Texas retiree Eunice Parrish, Pennsylvania clerical worker Shirley Stuttler and Milwaukee bus driver Annette Berry.

After lunch, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) participated by live satellite feed, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.) via a videotaped interview with another member, University of Maryland program director Betty Wineke. Then the program became AFSCME-only, as a long procession of members stepped up to floor microphones and spoke their minds about the candidates, the issues and the 2004 election.

The TV networks turned out in force to cover the meeting, C-Span and MSNBC telecast the morning portion live; the major networks aired live shots; and print reporters assembled from around the country. Overall, national television and newspaper coverage that evening and the next day was excellent.

A notable achievement: getting the candidates to distinguish their positions from those of President Bush rather than as they did in a recent South Carolina debate spend their time criticizing each other. And Secretary-Treasurer Lucy took the mike to urge that they continue to "fight the enemy, not each other."

As McEntee declared in his introductory remarks, "With this event, we begin the process by which our union will make its endorsement decision, a participatory process that will involve membership meetings across the country, focus groups, a national membership poll and much more."

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO

 DES MOINES, IOWA

CANDIDATES WITH GERALD MCENTEE - AFSCME INT. PRESIDENT

THE DEBATE BEGINS - SEVEN OF THE CANDIDATES ATTENDED IN PERSON

       

SEN. JOHN KERRY VISITED WITH DELEGATES THE EVENING BEFORE

        .

CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH TALKING WITH LOCAL 34 MEMBERS

       

                    CONGRESSMAN DICK GEPHARDT AND OTHER LOCAL 34 DELEGATES

       

                SEN. JOHN EDWARDS                      

              

          AMBASSADOR CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN 

  

GOV. HOWARD DEAN   

    

                  BILL LUCY - AFSCME INT. SEC-TREASURER

   

  SEN. BOB GRAHAM 

 

                               LOCAL 34 DELEGATE SIGNS ON TO CAMPAIGN 

      

                                REVEREND AL SHARPTON                   SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN VIA SATELLITE

   

   AFSCME COUNCIL 14 DELEGATES

Note: Local 34 sisters and brothers who participated in the Des Moines Conference:  

Alexander Gordon, David Heins, John Herzog, Laurie Simon, Nancy Fleming-Norton and Rene Rodriguez.