As the nation held its collective breath on election day (and for another four days afterward), members of Together Louisiana were able to let out a small sigh of relief over a major, local political victory. Constitutional Amendment 5 would have granted hundreds of millions of dollars in future property tax exemptions to the richest corporations operating in Louisiana, further diverting funds from the state's cash-strapped public services. The people of Louisiana need that funding, so they fought for it. And they won.
A few participants in our "Vote No On 5" Campaign have offered their thoughts on what it felt like to be a part of this victory:
"I'm a retired school counselor and I know how tough funding has always been for schools and particularly educators, so anything I can do to help my former co-workers, my fellow educators who are still in the fight, I want to do it.
[When I found out we'd defeated Amendment 5] I couldn't be as happy as I wanted to be because I was still waiting on the outcome of the other election. I was happy, but I became even happier as time progressed. In fact, I texted and emailed some of my friends who are still working and told them about all of the stuff we had been doing [to oppose Amendment 5] and how elated I was that it did come into fruition" —Dr. Rose Thompson, ret. educator, West Baton Rouge Parish School District.
"Canvassing my neighbors was amazing because, even though they're definitely people who I've waved at before, I really haven't met most of them. So that felt like a really meaningful way to connect with other people and most people were so receptive to the information I was giving them.
I went door to door across the city in the couple of days leading up to the election and that was super gratifying. One of my routes was in a really neglected part of North Baton Rouge and then the next day I was in University Hills or something. I went to the DA's house, like, it was the total opposite, y'know? Because of the conversations I had and the places I went to, I felt much more in touch with the city. And I felt so excited and gratified that we made it happen [by beating Amendment 5]. Elected officials are just lining their own pockets and the pockets of their friends while totally dismissing the most vulnerable and their communities and it's disgusting. So, it just felt good to have something concrete that I knew would have a result that would protect people who live in the place where I live"—Ms. Lily Brooks, Together Baton Rouge
"I came to Together Baton Rouge when we were in the middle of the ITEP fight. Seeing a diverse group of leaders working together to fight the most powerful group of people in the state immediately made the work that TBR does real to me, and made me want to get more deeply involved. The work we did around Amendment Five brings what I witnessed in those first months with TBR full circle. After election day, with the results of the presidential election still in the balance, I got a little peace-of-mind knowing that I played a part in getting Amendment 5 voted down by a large margin.
"The work never stops, but what I learned during our Get Out The Vote campaign is that when we work together as a community the work is never lonely. By working alongside one another, we forge the relationships that strengthen our capacity to continue fighting"—Mr. Abel Thompson, Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge
"For me, the 'No On Amendment 5' Caravan on election day enabled me to be involved at a level where I could actually be with like-minded people and create that energy by doing something all together. Then spending that time following each other, finding each other, supporting each other—it was like a mobile pep-rally, as far as going towards the city honking horns. It was a real positive activity for me—I loved it.
"I think when people really understood what [Amendment 5] meant then they were in alignment with what we believe as far as fairness is concerned. We proved that when people understood what it meant, they voted against it"—Ms. Jane Chandler, Spirit & Justice
"I’m a firm believer of being active in the community and that community people ought to have a voice in whatever happens where they live and operate and work. The Get Out The Vote campaign, the Block Captain campaign, was right down my alley because, in the old days when I was running for office myself, that was how we got to people. We actually walked and knocked on doors and talked to people face-to-face. Of course, you can’t do that now because of coronavirus- I understand that. But I think one of the next best things, other than the caravanning, is to do the telephone calling. And I am very pleased with the response that I received as a Together Louisiana Block Captain in getting other people that I called to serve as Block Captains. I very strongly believe that the outcome on Amendment 5 was directly related to our efforts as it relates to the telephone calling and to the caravanning.
"Doing the calls during the day when we did telephone banking was not very successful, especially on Saturday afternoon. But what I did when I was recruiting my neighbors as block captains, I called them when I thought they were home in the evenings. And that's one of the reasons I was able to reach so many people”—Dr. Press Robinson, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church