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Maurice "Mike" Gravel (1930 – 2021): Alaska’s US Senator, Democrat (1969 – 1981)

mgravelFrom Catherine Coolidge (Alaska voter & DA Lyon Vice-President)

As a born and bred Alaskan, I would like to pay homage to a former Democratic US Senator who represented my home state for 12 years before being defeated by a Republican who is Lisa Murkowski’s father. With the exception of one Senatorial term, Alaska has been a red state since Reagan’s Republican landslide in 1980.

Mike Gravel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts to working class French-Canadian parents and spoke only French in his early childhood. He served in the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps and then drove a cab in New York City while studying for his BA in economics at Columbia University.

Like my parents, the lure of adventure and independence drew Mr. Gravel to Alaska. He arrived broke and did whatever jobs he could find, working in real estate and even as a brakeman on the snow-clearing trains of the Alaska Railroad before launching his career in politics.

Alaska became the 49th state in January 1959. Mr. Gravel was twice elected to the State House of Representatives (1963 - 1967) and served as speaker in 1965 and 1966. Buoyed by his telegenic looks, in 1968 he narrowly unseated the incumbent 81-year-old US Senator, Ernest Gruening, who Alaskans referred to as “the Father of Alaska statehood”.

That same year, Theodore “Ted” Stevens, a Republican, was elected as Alaska’s second US Senator. Mr. Stevens went on to serve 40 years in the Senate and his towering legacy has heavily shaped Alaska’s current economic strategy, which is largely dependent on federal subsidies.

Both men hated each other. Their personalities, outlook and tactics were completely opposite. Mr. Stevens was a pragmatist, a plodder, an insider who brought home the bacon, funneled money to the military and who didn’t rock the boat.

Mr. Gravel was an idealist, a gadfly, a maverick and many considered him to be a showboat. He dreamed of stopping wars, building a self-sustaining Alaska economy and fundamentally changing American democracy. On June 29, 1971 he drew enormous national notice by reading The Pentagon Papers aloud for three hours in a one-man filibuster during a subcommittee hearing that he had called, finally breaking down in tears. At that time, all the major newspapers had been under court injunctions to stop publishing these documents.

During his 12-year senatorial term, Mike Gravel worked on issues that are the most important in Alaska’s history—the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He opposed the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which set the 200-mile limit for fisheries, supporting an international approach instead.

During his 1968 bid for the U.S. Senate, Mr. Gravel changed the way campaigns were run in Alaska forever. Prior to that election, statewide election campaigns focused almost exclusively on Alaska’s cities. Mr. Gravel was the very first to court the state’s rural vote so widely.

He sought to better the lives of Alaska Natives in rural communities by developing rural education. At that time there were no schools in the villages of rural Alaska. Native children were often sent to public schools in major cities such as Anchorage or Fairbanks, thus totally isolating them from their supportive communities. Thanks to a government bond that Mr. Gravel helped bring about, regional schools were finally built in the outlying villages.

Many remember Mr. Gravel as a highly creative person, constantly throwing out new ideas and policies. People mocked him in the 1970s for saying that Alaska should not rely on oil for its permanent economy but rather use the wealth to invest in infrastructure for a year-round tourism industry. The local media made fun of his Denali Tent City proposal around Mount Denali, inspired by Olympic Games Village tents.  His proposal for Alaskans to own part of the oil pipeline was laughed at. 

Today, people are viewing his proposals much more favorably in hindsight.

Mike Gravel has had a lasting impact on Alaska and unceasingly contributed to projecting the state into the future. He deserves credit for coming up with ideas and pursuing them regardless of the consequences.

His explanation of this policy, in later life, was: 

You turn around and throw a rock in the water, and that is the process of doing something with my life, and after I’ve done it, it causes ripples that are never-ending.”

As a teenager growing up in Alaska in the 1970s, these ripples touched my life forever.

                                             


Meet the Lyon 2021 Leadership Candidates

The nominations period for the Lyon Chapter Leadership Elections has now closed. The candidates for Lyon Chapter Leadership are listed below.

All members of Democrats Abroad France Lyon Chapter may vote in the Lyon Chapter Leadership elections. Due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, all voting will take place on line.  Members will be sent a link to their ballots by an email coming soon.

You can meet the candidates, hear them speak and ask them questions, at the DA Lyon Chapter Annual General Meeting on Thursday, March 4th at 7 p.m. to be held via Zoom. Voting will close on March 4, 2021.

Read more

Debate Watch Party

In temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, members of DA Lyon sought refuge at Tech Noir, a funky air-conditioned bar in the artist quarter of Lyon. There we watched 2 nights and 20 candidates worth of Democratic primary debates and played debate bingo that captured pithy expressions like “hard-working Americans”, “billionaires” and “reproductive health care”.  

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Lyon Soldiers on with Pride Parade Despite Torrential Downpour

The Lyon Gay Pride March was called for 2pm on June 15.  At 2:15pm there was lightning, thunder and the skies over Bellecour opened up with a violent storm. The march never left the city square where it began.  About 20 intrepid members DA Lyon, 

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Pride Parade Prep Day

Members of Democrats Abroad Lyon met today with colored paper, ribbon, paint, markers, brushes, rubber cement, rulers and electric screwdriver to assemble our hardware for next week's Gay Pride March in Lyon.  Many thanks to Chairperson emeritus Joan Smith for  putting together a poster making factory that made it easy and fun, even for the art-phobic among us.  


Book Discussions in Lyon

Members of Democrats Abroad Lyon have met twice so far this year.....

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Green Wave March 16, 2019

Members of Democrats Abroad Lyon marched with 10,000 others in our city to advocate for more action combating global warming.   This march was organized in support of the student march for the planet which happened the day before in our city.  Twelve thousand students organized their own protest.  We support the activism of the younger generations.  


DA Lyon Chapter Leadership Elections

Back to the ballot box...It's time to elect new leadership for the DA Lyon chapter. 

The DA Lyon chapter leadership committee will be comprise of the following members:
Chapter Chair
Chapter Vice Chair
Chapter Treasurer
Chapter Secretary
Member-At-Large (5)

Meet the candidates by clicking here.

✔️ YOU WILL RECEIVE YOUR EARLY VOTE/ABSENTEE BALLOT VIA EMAIL. If you do not receive the ballot from the DALyon Election Officer via email, it is because you have chosen to opt OUT of receiving our emails. To opt IN to receiving emails from Democrats Abroad, sign in and go to your member account at www.democratsabroad.org.

✔️ TO RECEIVE A BALLOT BY EMAIL (EXCEPTIONALLY) OR VIA POSTAL DELIVERY, please send a ballot request to [email protected], specifying how you would like your ballot to be delivered and providing the email address or the postal address where you would like to receive your ballot.

** The deadline to return your ballot (electronically or via postal delivery) is by the end of day March 21st **

✔️ YOU MAY ALSO VOTE IN-PERSON AT THE DALYON CHAPTER ELECTION ON MARCH 23rd.  For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

✔️ Note: you MUST be a member of Democrats Abroad France - Lyon chapter to receive a ballot and to vote in the chapter elections. If you are not yet a member, you can join at www.democratsabroad.org/join.  In order to vote in-person at the election meeting, please join by end of day March 22nd.  If you are a DA France member who has recently moved to the greater Lyon area, please ensure that your address is up-to-date in your membership account by going to www.democratsabroad.org under ACCOUNT SETTINGS.

Questions?  Contact us at [email protected].


Candidates for Lyon Leadership Committee

Name: Diane Sklar

Position: Chapter Chair

I’m a baby boomer from New York who came to Lyon in 2015 after a career in the tech sector. In my last technology job I was a product manager for money-laundering detection software. Here in Lyon I teach business subjects and English at various schools around town.

When I stopped working 60 hour weeks it was like awakening from a coma. I started reading about climate change, income inequality, gender inequality, the history of race relations and the stealthy erosion of the middle class. Then the 2016 election happened. I was shaken awake and needed to mobilize. I’m so grateful to have found kindred souls in Democrats Abroad. It is a community of forward-thinking Americans looking to make our country live up to its potential.

I’ve been on the board of DA Lyon as Treasurer and Vice Chair and am on DA’s global IT team. I’ve helped plan and attended most of the events that the chapter has held since its creation including coordinating a Get Out the Vote effort for American students studying abroad. I see 2019 as a rebuilding year. We will assemble a community of Democrats, young and old, in Lyon. We can spend 2019 getting to know each other and working together so that we have a fine tuned machine to make a difference in 2020.


Name: Julie Shapiro

Position: Chapter Vice Chair

My name is Julie Shapiro and I am running for Lyon Chapter Vice Chair. I am a dual American and Hungarian citizen originally from the Boston area. But since 2013, I have been a Florida resident and voter while I pursued a PhD in ecology. I moved to Lyon at the end of August 2018 to start a job as a post-doc with Inserm (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale). The 2018 Midterm elections were just around the corner. I was following the news from the US, but I wanted to do more. I had briefly been a member of Democrats Abroad when I was working in Denmark in 2017. So within a couple weeks of moving to Lyon, I joined our Democrats Abroad chapter. I am especially passionate about voter outreach and get out the vote. I phonebanked all through September, October, and November for the general election and then for the Georgia and Mississippi run-offs, as well as supporting Diane Sklar's efforts to register students studying abroad. I hope to continue with these efforts and our new projects to keep American citizens abroad engaged in American politics.


Name: John Matthews

Position: Treasurer

I am a self-employed software engineer and have lived in Lyon since 1999.

I joined the Board shortly after the Lyon chapter was formed in the wake of Donald Trump's election, first as a member-at-large and now as treasurer. We worked hard to engage new members to join us in the fight to overturn the disastrous policies of the administration and the Republican-controlled congress. We overseas citizens are also concerned with unfair treatment in areas such as income taxes, foreign bank account reporting requirements, and not being counted in the census. Our focus last year was on growing our membership and getting out the vote for the midterm elections, and we were successful in both areas. We have also worked to bring our members together through social gatherings and interesting events.

I am looking forward to continuing these efforts as we slowly ramp up the the 2020 elections.


Kelly A. Blunt

Position: Secretary

I consider my US home to be Portland, Oregon (which is where I am registered to vote) after an accumulated 24 years there, but I grew up in Southern California, and have lived in North Carolina, Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston. I was proud to be able to vote for Jimmy Carter in 1976 as a 19-year-old, after the law changed from having to be 21.

I have lived in France for almost two years, and have called Lyon home for the majority of that time. As I watched my friends commit to becoming more politically engaged after the 2016 election debacle, I was pleased to discover the Democrats Abroad Chapter in Lyon, and would like to become even more involved.

I have had Board experience in two non-profit organizations in Portland, including holding the offices of secretary (twice), treasurer, and president.


Name: Eva Moynihan

Position: Member-at-large

My name is Eva Moynihan and I am running for Lyon Chapter Member-at-large. I'm originally from the California Bay Area and enjoy telling French people that I'm from the area that makes the best wines in the world.

I decided to move to France after graduating from college in 2013. I had a series of jobs in banks in Luxembourg, which brought me to Eastern France (Metz). I felt pretty homesick, which was my original motivation for joining the Luxembourg branch of Democrats Abroad. It did fix my homesickness!

That said, I got more and more involved in the group because I enjoy feeling like I'm contributing in some way to our country. I was a Member-at-Large for 2 years and then Vice-Chair. Among other things I did phone-banking and helped run various events. I was also one-half of a debate team against Republicans Overseas before the 2016 elections, we did two debates attended by roughly two hundred people each time.

I moved to Lyon almost a year ago because I wanted to live in a bigger city. I love living here and want to contribute to Democrats Abroad. Thank you for your consideration !


Name: Claudia Quiros

Position: Member-at-large

I have been involved in Democrats Abroad since the birth of the Lyon chapter, with a short break when I moved to Paris last year during which I remained active in progressive organizing (even speaking at the Keep Families Together rally). I would like to run for a Member-at-large position because I believe in the power of using our civic duty, even from abroad, to fight for the principles we hold dear. For me, as a young person, these ideals include environmental justice, dealing with crushing student debt, fighting for racial and gender equity, and getting money out of politics. My current position working at the World Health Organization has confirmed my view that universal health coverage is not a pie-in-the-sky ideal and that health is a human right. If ever there was a time to be bold in our ideas and speak out against hate, injustice, inequality and fear, it’s now.


 

Name: Dori Laboune

Position: Member-at-large

My name is Dori Laboune. I’m from Corvallis, Oregon, and I’m a permanent resident of France. I’ve lived here in Lyon for about ten years now. I’m running for a member at large position, where I hope to help work on different projects. I’m really interested in issues involving climate change, medicare for all, (and cooking Emoji ).


Nancy Goldstein

Position: Member-at-Large

In 2018 I retired from my corporate career in the US and settled in Lyon with my husband, Phil. We had previously lived in Lyon (along with our two children) for a year in 2003, and could not wait to get back and call Lyon home. I continue to maintain a home in Atlanta, which is where I am a registered voter, and very anxious to change the politics in that state. I also spent 9 years living in Denver, Co. which seems to have a similar dynamic to Georgia - very liberal big city in a generally conservative state. I am impressed with all the efforts that Democrat chapters abroad have been making to GOTV, as well as providing a forum to meet with people who share the same values and concerns. I’d like to be able to contribute more to this cause by serving on the Board of the Democrats Abroad - Lyon chapter.


DALyon Chapter leadership committee elections are coming

Every two years, we elect a new leadership committee of the Democrats Abroad France - Lyon Chapter. This year the elections will take place on Saturday, March 23rd from 4:30pm to 5:00pm.*

We will host an apéro to welcome our members and to announce the elections results. Please join us at:

Quality Suites Lyon Confluence
50 Cours Charlemagne
69002 Lyon

You will be able to vote electronically, by post or in-person.  Ballots will be sent electronically two weeks prior to the election. To vote for the DAF Lyon leadership committee, you need to be a member of Democrats Abroad, over 18 years of age and living in the greater Lyon area.

The Call for Candidates has been sent out and the deadline for reception of candidacies is March 2nd. The positions open on the DALyon leadership committee are:

  • Chapter Chair
  • Chapter Vice Chair
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Member-at-large (3)

There is still time to submit your candidacy to us at [email protected]. All that you need to provide is your name, the position that you wish to run for and a brief candidate statement (150 words). For a description of the open positions and eligibility requirements, click here

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].

To ensure fair and transparent elections, the DAFrance - Lyon Chapter elections will be overseen by an independent Election Officer.  The Election Officer may not be running for a position on the leadership committee.  This year, the Election Officer is the outgoing DALyon Chapter Chair, Robin Guinot.

Note: this is our local election and is independent of the national election for the DA-France Executive Committee to be held later this spring.


* The elections will take place following the Tax Talk event. You do not need to reserve a place to attend the elections. However, should you wish to attend the Tax Talk event from 2:30 to 4:30pm, we recommend that you RSVP to assure a place there.