Press release: NEW POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE FORMS IN AMHERST

Committee’s Goal is to Support Progressive, Diverse Candidates for Amherst Public Office

Amherst, MA — A new political action committee, the Progressive Coalition of Amherst, formed today by filing with the Amherst Town Clerk’s office. The mission of Progressive Coalition of Amherst is to improve the lives of all community members, by supporting progressive and diverse candidates for public office in Amherst.

“The vision of Progressive Coalition of Amherst is a town where elected bodies prioritize issues and causes that support the whole community, including working people and marginalized groups,” said committee treasurer Demetria (Dee) Shabazz, “and where elected bodies reflect the residents they represent. To that end, Progressive Coalition of Amherst will be governed by an Executive Board consisting of a majority of people of color.”

The inaugural Executive Board members are Pat Ononibaku, Jennifer Page, Dr. Demetria Shabazz, Allegra Clark, and Dr. Maria Kopicki.

The initial focus areas of Progressive Coalition of Amherst are:

  • Thoughtful planning and zoning policies to assure that development is designed to benefit the Town and the community as a whole
  • Initiatives and programs to attract and support locally-owned small shops and restaurants
  • Transparency and fiscal responsibility by Town government
  • Increasing the availability of affordable housing.
  • Properly maintained roads and sidewalks for all modes of transportation.
  • Sensible and well-informed spending for any municipal renovation or construction
  • Prioritizing public safety resources for mental health, addiction, and other social services, including fully funding the recommendations of the Community Safety Working Group
  • Robust reparations for Black residents
  • A well-crafted school budget that prioritizes the needs of students
  • Significantly reducing the town’s carbon footprint
  • A fully inclusive democracy, and protection of voting rights for all residents
  • Accessible social and cultural programs for the community. 

“We feel that the time is ripe in Amherst for a political action committee that truly supports progressive causes,” said committee chair Jennifer Page. “It is becoming more and more clear that town government is not only about zoning and development; it’s a venue where issues like racial equity, reparations for Black residents, police violence, and more, can be addressed. At the same time, we know that Amherst residents have been disappointed by the actions of our town government when it comes to development and zoning decisions in the downtown area. The work of Progressive Coalition of Amherst is to support candidates who will truly advance progressive issues and causes.”

Pat Ononibaku is a business owner, social justice advocate and community organizer. She has served on the Fort River PGO Board and the ARPS Special Education Parent Advisory Council Executive Board. In 2020, she was appointed to the Town’s Community Safety Working Group. She has been an Amherst resident since 1984.

Jennifer Page served on Town Meeting, the Socioeconomic Integration subgroup of the Enrollment Working Group, and the board of directors of the Amherst Education Foundation. Page is an officer in the Professional Staff Union at UMass Amherst. She has lived in Amherst since 2007.

Dr. Demetria Shabazz earned a Ph.D. in mass communication focused on race, class, and gender in the media, and teaches courses in community engagement, film, and social justice. She serves on the board of directors of Amherst Media. Shabazz is committed to creating a more inclusive and democratic culture.

Allegra Clark has a Master’s in Social Work with a certificate in Urban Leadership. She has held clinical social work positions working with substance use, housing, and the criminal legal system.  In 2021, she was appointed to the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust. Clark is a graduate of Amherst Regional High School.

Dr. Maria Kopicki served on Town Meeting, the Special Education subgroup on the Enrollment Working Group, the Facilities Use Advisory Board (studying the middle and high schools), the Fort River School Building Feasibility Study, and the Crocker Farm Expansion Study. She is also a frequent contributor to the Amherst Indy and has lived in Amherst since 1999.

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