A new political group aims to make an impact here in the North Country, and they'll start by holding a coordinated protest of last year's Supreme Court decision regarding Citizens United and the Federal Election Commission.
The Progressive Coalition of Northern New York formed following a Jan. 7 meeting in Beekmantown, during which citizens from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties gathered to establish an organization promoting political reform in the North Country and beyond.
Officials with the group say it's the first tri-county union of progressive citizens to take shape in 20 years.
Jeanne Norris is spokeswoman for the Progressive Coalition of Northern New York. She told WNBZ that splinter groups of progressives were working separately before the coalition came together.
"We were working separately in very small groups and realized that we'd have a better voice in the area if we were one larger group," she said.
According to Norris, the new coalition will organize citizens throughout the region in order to promote what she called - quote - "democratic values and advocate for economic and social reform."
She adds that the group will attempt to integrate and network itself with like-minded state and national organizations.
The progressive coalition draws largely from the Democratic Party, Norris notes, but also includes constituents from the Green Party and the Working Families Party.
Howard Dean's "Democracy for America" organization is a heavy influence for coalition members, Norris adds.
"Progressively speaking, we of course are for no war," she said. "We'd like to see an increase in progressive thinking in this area, even in regards to job creation. We'd also like to help the area move forward."
The coalition supports universal health care, education reform, fair trade, protecting Social Security, and promoting human rights abroad - among a bevy of other issues.
Norris says the coalition will not endorse political candidates as a group, but will support politicians that shares similar views and oppose those who reject them.
So far, the list of politicians the northern New York progressives support include Congressman Bill Owens and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
"They're both doing pretty good work in our area," Norris said.
Later this week, the progressive coalition will host a series of coordinated protests regarding last year's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission.
Norris says the decision undermined fair and transparent elections by giving corporations the ability to - quote - "buy an election."
"With their wealth and their lobbying power, they can put in the politicians they choose," she said. "It's a result of the Supreme Court decision."
Demonstrations are planned in Saranac Lake, Malone, and Plattsburgh starting at 4 p.m. Friday.