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Cascade Bicycle Club will not ditch political advocacy

IMG_0186The Cascade Bicycle Club Board voted Wednesday to maintain both its 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations.

This means the club will not abandon its ability to endorse political candidates and help work with candidates’ campaigns for office.

We have reported several times on this debate within the club, which is not only the region’s largest bicycle advocacy organization, but one of the largest bike organizations in the country.

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The club’s board had been considering an organizational change that would consolidate into one 501(c)(3) charity organization, which would be prohibited from direct political election advocacy. This could have made some organizational headaches go away.

But the change raised concerns that the club was moving away from advocacy and would reduce its power as an organization by removing the ability to elect bike-friendly leaders. With the coming district elections system for Seattle City Council and with the spreading interest in better bicycling and safer streets in smaller communities around the region, the ability to organize on the ground for elected officials will only get more powerful.

An anonymous group called Save Cascade formed and started gathering signatures online for a petition demanding the club maintain its political work.  As of press time, the petition had 275 signatures. The group also outlined a path to recall board members if they chose to eliminate the 501(c)(4), an action the club’s membership has taken in the past.

The Board voted 9 – 2 to maintain both organizations and to form a task force to recommend ways a “hybrid” structure could grow in influence and stay in legal compliance with rules governing charity organizations (if you’re confused by all this, don’t worry. You’re not alone). The task force will report back in late summer. Any changes that require a change in the club’s bylaws would also need a vote of the membership.

So the issue isn’t completely, totally dead. The extent of their political force could still be decided by the task force, and there were clearly members of the Board who don’t like the idea of Cascade doing endorsements at all. But it seems there is little will on the Board anymore to completely squash the club’s political work.

In an early show of this political intentions, the club’s Board voted to endorse Rob Johnson over longtime Councilmember Jean Godden in Seattle’s 4th District.

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10 responses to “Cascade Bicycle Club will not ditch political advocacy”

  1. Marge Evans

    Whoo Hoo! that is good news indeed!

  2. leo Stone

    Good news indeed!
    The good thing about Cascade being the 800 pound Gorilla in the room, is Cascade can still be the 800 pound Gorilla in the room.
    If we (cyclists) have political power, why give it up?

  3. GlenBikes

    Which 2 board members voted against the majority interests of the membership (i.e. voted to drop the 501(4)(c)?

    1. daihard

      I would also very much like to know who those two members are.

      1. GlenBikes

        Don Volta and Joe Platzner voted against maintaining the 501(c)(4).

  4. […] we reported earlier this week, Cascade Bicycle Club has wisely chosen not to ditch their political election work. We also reported that the club’s first political […]

  5. […] – Glad to see Cascade will still do advocacy. […]

  6. John Hubble

    Political advocacy is THE most significant reason for my financial support of CBC. We live in an age of industrial lifestyle that is not sustainable, or at the very least will produce long-term changes to our planet(the only one we have). As cyclists, we all know how long the list of personal benefits are when we ride. When we ride as a our mode of transportation, the entire planet and all of it’s inhabitants share that benefit. For me, this is why CBC’s political voice is SO important! “If you build it, they will come” A better community through bicycling is something I would like to be associated with for future generations. And yes, I do like to get out and ride with you guys!

  7. […] Stayin’ political: After a huge groundswell of support for an a pro-bike advocacy Cascade Bicycle Club, the political wing of the organization will stay just that–political. […]

  8. […] As we reported earlier this year, Cascade’s board had considered ditching direct political advocacy work and consolidating into one tax-deductible 501(c)(3) charity organization legally barred from endorsing or directly assisting political campaigns. […]

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