Gamaliel staff, alumni join effort to support Georgia voters in January runoff

Although Gamaliel doesn’t have an active affiliate in Georgia, several Gamaliel alumni and staff are working to support voters in the state’s Senate runoff election on January 5, 2020. 


Gamaliel Network Executive Director Ana Garcia-Ashley said that many key leaders from the inactive Gamaliel affiliate in Atlanta, Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE), are still active organizers around the city, and many others participating in voter engagement leading up to the runoff received Gamaliel training. 


Read on to learn more about how Gamaliel-affiliated individuals are organizing their communities in Georgia.


Ana Garcia-Ashley, Executive Director of the Gamaliel Network


Gamaliel Network Executive Director Ana Gacria-Ashley, a registered Georgia voter, recently  headed to Atlanta to vote in person, spend time with family – and support on-the-ground organizers. 


Garcia-Ashley said that although ABLE is currently inactive, she is still in touch with several of its organizers and leaders, and has been connecting with them to see where she can pitch in as the election winds down.


In addition to organizers and leaders, Garcia-Ashley has been calling members of her personal network. As a longtime Atlanta resident, Garcia-Ashely said she has deep ties to the Dominican-American community in the city, and has been using those relationships to encourage people not only to vote, but to reach out to their own networks.


Garcia-Ashley said she voted early on December 19 with her daughter and two young granddaughters.


Janine Brown, former treasurer of ABLE


Janine Brown is active in her community, but said she had largely left large-scale organizing until Georgia’s Senate race went to runoffs. 


“I’m retired,” Brown said. “But this election has pushed me out of my ‘I just want to do stuff in my neighborhood’ zone.”


Brown has sent 100 postcards through her union, Communications Workers of America, and said she is also working with the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council on its postcard campaign. 


Near her home in the Reynoldstown neighborhood, Brown developed relationships with many senior citizens through her work with Neighbors in Need, an organization that combats gentrification by offering assistance with home repairs. Brown said that she has pulled on those relationships to engage with voters.


“Every single person I talk to, it’s like, ‘Have you voted?’ ‘Yes! Oh baby, you know I’m voting!’ It’s incredible,” Brown said. “We have a senior high rise, and people are like, ‘What do we need to do to make sure they’re all voting?’ Well, we have a contact in that building, [who said] ‘Oh, don’t you worry, Janine. Everybody in this building is voting.’”


Brown said she has seen incredible engagement from a wide variety of groups in her area, from organizations that give rides to the polls to labor unions and community organizations ramping up their get-out-the-vote efforts. Brown has been visited by door knockers at least three times and has received a deluge of texts and phone calls from canvassers.


She has also seen several do-it-yourself efforts from individuals and local businesses, including a Christmas-themed float with “Vote!” signs sponsored by Bronner Brothers to homemade signs featuring election dates and bearing slogans encouraging new voters to turn out.


“The ground game here is pretty amazing. The whole city has ‘vote early,’ ‘vote one more time’ signs,” Brown said. “It’s just incredible how in-your-face this is.”