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What We Do


As a progressive political action group, our “ACTivism” takes many forms. Individually, our members are often key leaders in local campaigns.  Collectively, we research issues; interview and evaluate candidates; publish a newsletter; hold public forums; get heavily involved in turning out the Democratic vote; and try to have some fun while raising money to support our endorsed candidates and causes!

ACT's public forums are especially important and informative for local and legislative elections. Whether for State Senate, State Assembly, City Council, School Board or Commity College Board, these elections have tremendous consequences for our community. ACT makes sure our members get the chance to see and hear all the candidates in person.

ACT Steering Committee meetings often include speakers or presentations on current issues.  At this meeting, rent control advocates explained the measure they'd put on the ballot to protect tenants.  Their rent control measure later went on to become law with ACT’s support.

How we do it

ACT is about grass-roots democracy, both in our politics and in our operations.  All endorsements are voted on by our members via email and/or mail.  Three co-chairs and other officers are also elected directly by the members (in person, at general membership meetings) for 2-years terms.  PADC has its own bylaws and elects its own officers separately, but the two groups share a joint Steering Committee which sets policy and makes endorsement recommendations to their general memberships.  The Steering Committee meets monthly, usually in a private home or a public space, but sometimes by Zoom.  All members are welcome at Steering Committee meetings, but only those on the Committee may vote on matters of policy, endorsement, etc.


The Steering Committee includes all current and former co-chairs, current officers, and all members who volunteer for leadership roles on ACT’s working committees.  The working committees include:

  • Research:  Makes endorsement recommendations to the Steering Committee after Interviewing candidates and evaluating ballot measures.

  • Program:    Arranges speakers and programs at monthly Steering Committee meetings, as well as occasional public forums.

  • Communications:  Writtes, edits and publishes our monthly newsletter, The Phoenix.

  • Computer:  Maintain our online presence (website, social media)

  • Membership:  Works to recruit new members and retain old ones

  • Election Procedures:  Oversees all internal elections and ballots, counts ballots and announces results.


Our History

ACT was founded in 1973 by activists who had been involved in the 1972 presidential campaign (George McGovern vs. Richard Nixon) and the energetic but equally unsuccessful local Democratic campaign for Congress. Rising from the ashes of defeat was the theme (hence the name of our newsletter, The Phoenix).  The local McGovern campaign had been an historic one, similar in some ways to the outpouring for Obama in 2008.


More than a thousand people had volunteered in an unprecedented local burst of grassroots enthusiasm. ACT was an attempt to keep those people together and continue fighting for a progressive agenda.  At that time, the Vietnam War was the overriding issue. But ACT’s founders were also involved in other important struggles – including the bitter confrontation over the integration of Pasadena's public schools.

They were fighting the good fight in what we would now call a very "red" community – though the term meant pretty much the opposite in those days.  No Democrat at any level had carried Pasadena since Franklin Roosevelt's landslide in 1936.  Women and minority office-holders were few and far between.  The whole area was synonymous with rock-ribbed conservatism, birthplace of the infamous John Birch Society. There was much work to be done.

Decades later, the search for peace and justice remain central concerns, but other issues have emerged as well:  climate change, homelessness, preserving democracy in the face of resurgent fascism.  While the work for progressive change continues, the local landscape looks very different. Our area is now deeply "blue" and our elected leaders a much better reflection of the area’s diversity.  ACT has played a major role in making that happen. Our long-time strategy of focusing on elections and building progress step-by-step has been remarkably successful.

 George McGovern, the Democratic Nominee for President in 1972, returned to Pasadena to help celebrate ACT’s 35th Anniversary.

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