Black Fork Strategies launched in January of 2018 and worked in every region of Ohio carrying out contracts to do voter registration, petition collection, and get out the vote efforts. Black Fork consistently employed 150 canvassers from March to election day and managed offices in Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Youngstown, and East Liverpool in addition to a roaming rural and small town team.
Vision & Values
The goal of Black Fork is not to replicate the national field vendor model but to create a company that better reflects progressive values, is owned and operated by people in state, and is an important part of the ecosystem. Our values:
● Be a High Road Employer. This means paying a living wage and paying people as hourly and salaried employees. Many field vendors continue to treat staff as independent contractors, pay by the card or signature, and do not pay $15 an hour.
● High Integrity Work: Voter registration efforts and petition collection efforts will inevitably be attacked, investigated, and challenged by our opponents who actively advance voter suppression and will undermine democracy when it’s in their interest. We’ve been through these kinds of attacks and we are not only battle tested but we’ve built the systems that protect the integrity of programs, provide rigor on the legal and compliance fronts, and protect the organizations we provide services for.
● Radical Commitment to Develop Ohio Talent. Millions of dollars are spent on politics in Ohio, but it mostly washes through the state. Progressive infrastructure has not grown or developed correspondingly with that investment. Black Fork works to address this by having a radical focus on the development of grassroots leaders. We want people who work on our program to not only gain professional skills but to emerge as progressive leaders able to serve in a variety of capacities.
● Invest back in Ohio: While we are for-profit company, our operating agreement states that owners must give a majority of the profits to progressive candidates and organizations in Ohio. It also creates a Political Advisory Board consisting of community, faith, labor, and student leaders who decide which organizations and candidates receive contributions. We don’t just say we reinvest in Ohio, we are legally obligated to do so. And we do it democratically
Founded by long time grassroots organizers who have been doing electoral work and community organizing in Ohio for the past 14 years, this company is based on four core ideas:
● Ohio needs its own in-state field vendor who can provide large scale field capacity that is rooted in ongoing relationships with our communities and cares about what is left behind after an election cycle or a campaign..
● Profits generated by field vendors should be reinvested in progressive politics and movement building in state..
● Field vendors can and should serve as important component of the Ohio leadership pipeline, hiring people directly impacted by the issues we are trying to address, and having embedded popular education programs for every single person who passes through the door.
● Base Building organizations need to own the “means of production of politics” as a way to advance visionary politics. The current progressive political infrastructure is dominated by consultants, operatives, and firms that are not accountable to anyone. They do not make decisions based on building power but a narrow vision of winning and one that emphasizes their own profits.