The 2017 Committee to Elect Akilé (Cainion) Anai for District 6 city councilwoman and Jesse Nevel for mayor of St. Petersburg, FL was led by the African People’s Socialist Party and made up of youthful forces powered by the slogans “Unity through Reparations!” and “Radical Times; Radical Solutions!”
For six months, from early March through August 29, the joint campaign committee was a powerhouse of energy, enthusiasm and commitment waging an outstanding ground war to elect the dynamic young candidates who excited the African working class to come out and vote for their own interests for the first time ever.
The campaign also mobilized many white people around the reparations platforms forced into the political agenda by Akilé and Jesse, who busted up the class peace and broke down the decorum used by the status quo to silence the voices of African workers. The Akilé-Jesse Uhuru slate laid out common sense platforms with reparations to the black community as the centerpiece, demanding black community control of police and an end to gentrification of the African community.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela served as the political leadership for the campaign, holding frequent briefings that coached the candidates and the committee on how to best articulate the platform to the people. The campaign managers were Gazi Kodzo for Akilé Anai and Penny Hess for Jesse Nevel.
Campaign committee went to 25,000 doors
Our tireless Field Team was headed up by Comrade Starr, along with Mouhammadou Daigne and Hekima Ukimbizi, a dynamic high school student who played a key role in winning votes at the door. The field team, which went to about 25,000 doors, also included Jesse and Akilé, whose presence was key, along with Brooke and Jim Anderson who coordinated all of district 5 and Anne Hirsch who coordinated precinct 118.
High school student Iquan as well as Sean Morr and Samantha Keckler, Lara Mustapich, Scott Milinder, Betty Soto, Bobby Whittenberg, Diamond Samuels, Isabel Miranda and so many others knocked on doors almost daily in the 95 degree heat of the Florida summer.
Our voter contact team, headed up by Renee Nassar and Liu Montsho Kwayera and joined by Maggie Gouldin, Mark Holmgren, Anne Hirsch, Jesse and Akilé and so many others in St. Pete and around the country, made 10,000 calls to local voters. The voter contact team did a splendid job in mobilizing our base to come out to events, debates, actions and press conferences, often on very short notice.
Our social media team was headed up by Gazi Kodzo, whose role was critical not only in building support but also in taking on struggles with the lying politicians and their minions. Gazi also led our writing team who wrote scores of articles for The Weekly Challenger and The Burning Spear newspapers.
Johann Beddingfield coordinated outreach and postering and Jackson Hollingsworth served as our media liaison. Branding, videos, fliers, posters and mass emails were produced by Kyle Wyss and Charles Oliver. Miezi Cainion and Scott Milinder were our treasurers. Penny Hess, who also chaired the joint campaign committee, coordinated events, actions and candidate appearances at churches.
We got CURED!
During the 6-month campaign the committee:
•Submitted 1800 signed petitions to get Jesse Nevel’s name on the ballot.
•Held 15 press conferences.
•Held 15 of our own actions and events.
•Knocked on or dropped literature at 25,000 doors.
•Made 10,000 calls to voters and our base.
•Distributed 700 yard signs.
•Had one 6,000 piece mass mailing.
•Made one TV commercial that ran on 15 cable stations.
•InPDUM held 24 Sunday Rallies to meet the candidates
•Participated, spoke or intervened at 20 community events, debates and churches.
•Had a social media reach for the campaign pages
•Raised $14,500 for Jesse Nevel’s campaign and $11,700 for Akilé’s.
Although we did not win the election, we built a powerful movement based in the African working class of St. Petersburg. We created the foundation for winning numerous reparations elections in the future by forming the vibrant, precinct-based organization Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED), led by Akilé Anai and Jesse Nevel.