Represent Vancouver, WA Leader Nicole Laurent is Taking on the Establishment

FROM WASHINGTON STATE TO WASHINGTON, DC:
NICOLE IS FIGHTING FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION REFORM 

(Photo: Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian)

October 8, 2018

By Ellen Moorhouse
Grassroots Communications Manager, RepresentUs

CALLING OUT CORRUPTION

If you’re looking for inspiration to tackle pressing anti-corruption problems, look no further than Represent Vancouver, WA chapter leader Nicole Laurent. As a mental health counselor, Nicole understands the connection between the heart and mind—and relates this powerful link to all of her political advocacy work. She believes that all things are connected, and every issue she is passionate about pertains to one thing in particular—the corrupting influence of money in politics.

This election, we have the chance to unrig the system and usher in a new era of politics. We’re seeing a wave of political reform that is unprecedented in modern history. There are more than two dozen major reform measures on November ballots—that’s more than we’ve seen since Watergate.

And Nicole is helping all of them. She's made a commitment not just to help pass these crucial reforms in her city and state, but to join organizing efforts across the nation to support the anti-corruption movement.

Once a week from now until Election Day, Nicole joins our national Calling out Corruption phone bank, and talks with voters in states with critical anti-corruption fights to spread the word about these reforms.

One-on-one conversations are the most effective way to convince people to vote and to explain the problems these measures will fix. With volunteers across the country like Nicole calling voters to help these campaigns win we can make deep impacts on state—and eventually, federal—anti-corruption laws.

This is Nicole ‘on the line’ for a national call night, Calling Out Corruption.

FEDERAL CHANGE BEGINS WITH STATEWIDE EFFORTS 

Nicole started the Vancouver, Washington chapter in 2016 with one goal: to fight for a system that works for regular people and their families, not just a handful of special interests and billionaires. Since then, the chapter has grown and evolved, working with other community organizations to support reform efforts both locally and statewide.

Washington state has a D+ rating for transparency and ethics from the Center for Public Integrity, and the study calls it ‘One of the cleanest dirty shirts’ in the test of states integrity.

Nicole decided that she needed to do something about these issues to improve her community. She describes the lightbulb moment when she decided to start a chapter with RepresentUs:

“On the plane ride home [from a protest in Philly] we were tired, we were hot, we were sunburned, and I am sitting there in the plane, and I was thinking, ‘I'm going to start a chapter.’ Because I couldn’t think of a single issue that was important to me that wasn’t fed by these types of corruption problems. I am just one person with only so much time and only so much energy— there's just not enough time in the day. So if I am going to fight, I am going to fight this one comprehensive issue that feeds all of it.”

Nicole’s fast-growing chapter collected signatures and spoke with local politicians to get the local city council to endorse the Anti-Corruption Act—but were ultimately unsuccessful, as the council voted against the resolution.

Faced with an unreceptive city council, Nicole didn’t give up. She continues to coordinate and attend community gatherings that fight for real policy issues that matter. From educating the public on Ranked Choice Voting, which would allow voters to rank their preferences at the ballot box, to presenting policy solutions that combat the influence of lobbying in politics, Nicole does whatever it takes to fight corruption in her community.

“People really care about this issue,” she said. “Anti-corruption legislation has the capacity to really bring our community together and get us working on a systemic change that is not politically based.”

SMALL STEPS TO BIG CHANGE 

Nicole understands that statewide efforts ultimately lead to federal reform. Throughout American history, fundamental policy changes have been driven by the states. Twenty-seven states passed laws giving women the right to vote before it passed federally. Thirty-four states legalized interracial marriage before it became federal law.

The list of examples goes on, and the takeaway is clear: passing state laws is an essential catalyst to winning sweeping federal reform on fundamental issues. That’s why Nicole joins us every week for our national Calling Out Corruption phone bank: she can make a difference no matter where she is.

“I like seeing small signs of progress.  I like going to a community meeting and talking about our chapter and watching little light bulbs go on in people's heads when I point out, "Hey, corruption feeds every single one of these things that you guys are freaking out about and worried about and upset about." I like working with my friends, I like the opportunity where I am getting to know my council members a little bit more. I really kind of geek out about the ethics part of it—because of my training I love the ethics part—but I’m human. Sometimes the politics part is confusing, and I do what I can to educate myself and work with others to tackle these common-sense reforms.”

Nicole and the Vancouver chapter host voter education workshops, fun corruption trivia events, and local chapter meetings to stay connected to friends, neighbors, and coalition members. They’ve joined the RepresentUs digital training platform to stay connected in real time, and learn the best tools and tips for statewide (and even nationwide) organizing. Nicole’s chapter has the tools necessary to continue organizing throughout Vancouver—and Washington—and the nation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO GET INVOLVED 

Signing up for a call night is a great way to connect with our national organizing team. Whether you’re a seasoned political junkie who knows the ropes, or you’ve never joined a phone bank before, our team will share the tools that connect voters together in the national anti-corruption community. Join Nicole and others at our weekly phone banks every Thursday from now until Election Day. It’s easy to sign up and get started.

If you live near Vancouver, sign up here to join the Vancouver chapter, or volunteer with us anywhere else in the country.

Anti-corruption is a top issue for American voters no matter what their political beliefs are. Check out this page to see all of the campaigns RepresentUs members are supporting in the November 2018 election and how you can get involved:

  • Comprehensive Anti-Corruption Acts in North Dakota and South Dakota;
  • Anti-gerrymandering ballot measures in Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, and Utah;
  • An ethics reform ballot measure in New Mexico;
  • Money-in-politics ballot measures in Massachusetts, Denver, Phoenix, and Baltimore;
  • Defending instant runoff voting in Memphis, Tennessee; and
  • Automatic voter registration ballot measures in Michigan and Nevada.

This movement is winning. We've won nine major victories already in 2018 and more are coming in November. Every time we win, it weakens the political establishment and builds our movement’s power. We couldn’t do this work without volunteers like Nicole - and you! Join us.