News Release

Referendums on Issues: * NJ Minimum Wage * Fracking and GMO Labeling * Voting Reform

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http://www.accuracy.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/vote.jpgHOLLY SKLAR, KELLY CONKLIN, via Bob Keener, bob at businessforafairminimumwage.org
USA Today reports: “New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $8.25 an hour, and add automatic cost-of-living increases each year. … [Gov. Chris Christie] vetoed a bill last year that would have raised the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour with annual inflation adjustments.”

Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Sklar said today: “At $7.25, the minimum wage has less buying power now than it did in 1950. New Jersey joins New York, Connecticut and California in taking action this year to raise their state minimums while the federal minimum wage is stuck in the past.” Conklin is co-owner of Foley Waite Associates, a woodworking firm in Kenilworth, N.J., and a steering committee member of the New Jersey Main Street Alliance. He said today: “It’s time we reinforced the better business model of businesses that pay a living wage. Raising the wage floor while insuring raises in the future is the best way to do that.”

MARK SCHLOSBERG, DARCEY RAKESTRAW, drakestraw at fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
National organizing director for Food & Water Watch, Schlosberg said today: “The story of this election is that communities can win against big corporate money if we organize from the ground up. In Colorado, three cities successfully stopped fracking and a fourth is too close to call, despite nearly $900,000 being spent by big oil and gas interests supported by Governor Hickenlooper, who has publicly opposed community efforts to halt fracking. In Washington, the GE labeling initiative is still too close to call, despite record sums being spent by big junk food and chemical companies to mislead the public in an off-year election. Still, the massive amounts of money spent by large corporate interests against popular measures highlights the need to continue organizing as we strive to protect our essential resources and take back our democracy.” Rakestraw is communications director for the group. Reuters reports: “Despite early strong support … polling suggested sentiment against the measure was growing due to an onslaught of corporate-financed advertising before the referendum.”

ROB RICHIE, rr at fairvote.org, @fairvote
Executive director of FairVote based in Takoma Park, Md., Richie is the leading national advocate of ranked choice voting, both as a means to elect single winners and to elect legislators in multi-member districts, as explained in a recent Washington Post oped. Richie said today: “Minneapolis had its first open seat election for mayor with ranked choice voting and voters handled RCV very well. St. Paul, Takoma Park, Cambridge (Mass.) and San Francisco also all had RCV races. Cambridge’s elections and some of Minneapolis’ elections were held with the multi-seat form of RCV that is a candidate-based form of proportional representation. There were big changes in these elections, and new diversity among winners, including Cambridge’s first Latino city councilor.

“In statewide elections, Virginia’s gubernatorial race shows that RCV is not a partisan issue, but a fairness one. The Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis was kept out of debates, making it harder for him to stay at 10 percent to keep the Libertarians as a ballot-qualified party, but still won far more votes than the margin of victory between Democratic winner Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Down ballot, Republicans won a huge majority in the House of Delegates races largely because of a gerrymandered map that would best be fixed by RCV.” See video.

“Also, we played the lead role in introducing the idea of lowing the voting age to 16 here in Takoma Park — the first in nation to do so. Turnout among those newly enfranchised voters outpaced city turnout overall.”