Amherst Forward FAQ
Do you have questions about Amherst Forward? Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’ve been asked.
Why a political action committee (PAC)?
We formed a PAC because many of us have felt shut out of the town power structure on some of the issues most important to us. So we created an organization to channel our energy to engage fellow residents and public officials about critical issues facing our town. We organized it as a PAC for maximum transparency. No closed email groups, no Town Meeting voting blocs: We’re listed by name here on our website, and any donations we receive, as well as all of our expenses, will be publicly reported—precisely BECAUSE we registered as a PAC.
What are you trying to do?
We want to get residents involved and help them engage with their elected officials on issues they care about. From our conversations over coffee, at parent pick-up, and on doorsteps during recent election campaigning, we think there are seven priority issues for our town. We want to do our part to make sure they stay front and center in Amherst’s political conversation—and in our new Town Council.
Is money really needed for that?
Honestly? Not a lot. But it takes some money to mail out a postcard to voters, or to hold issue-focused events, or print up flyers, or pay the hosting fees for our website. So we have modest fundraising goals, we only accept contributions from individuals living in Amherst and have limited contributions to $52 or less, well below the legal donation limit of $500.
Are Amherst Forward-endorsed candidates required to vote in accordance with Amherst Forward?
Absolutely not. All the candidates running for Town Council are independent. A subset of them have indicated, through surveys and in-person conversations, that they are likely to address the seven priority issues in a way that we also believe will work well for Amherst. That’s all. None of us—not Amherst Forward’s volunteers, not the Town Council candidates, not anyone else—has all the answers. We need councilors who will listen to their constituents, research best practices, and make practical decisions for Amherst.
Aren’t you bankrolling candidates?
Nope. We’ve helped some candidates in informal ways to get their campaigns off to a good start, benefiting from what we’ve learned ourselves in recent campaigns. That includes:
· Conducted basic financial training for treasurers. If you’ve ever looked at public campaign finance reports (you should!), you’ll see how important this is! Better financial reports make for stronger transparency.
· Shared insights and firsthand experience on good campaigning.
· Connected candidates to volunteers and to one another to campaign together, if they felt it would be helpful.
· Identified voter positions on recent town votes to inform candidates’ door-to-door outreach efforts.
· Shared voter lists available from the town clerk’s office, re-formatted to aid candidates’ door-to-door campaigning.
· Offered “get out the vote” training to candidates based on what we’ve learned in recent campaigns.
We have created simple campaign materials that list the candidates we support. The costs of these flyers will be considered an “in kind” or non-monetary contribution to candidates—an idea that we’ve already cleared with state campaign finance officials.
But I’ve heard you’ve done a lot more than that.
We’ve heard that too! Here are some of our “favorite” inaccurate statements:
· Paid for candidates’ lawn signs: False. Even if we wanted to (we don’t), this would be cost-prohibitive. Candidates are each raising their own funds and paying for their materials on their own.
· Offered VAN voter software to candidates: False. The voter lists we have shared are excel spreadsheets, nothing more. VAN is sophisticated campaign software that allows campaigns to centralize their voter outreach efforts. It’s great! It’s also way more expensive than signs.
· Donated as a PAC to individual campaigns: False. We haven’t done this either.
Let hope these details provide answers to some of the misconceptions about what we’ve done—and what we haven’t done—so we can all remain 100% focused on what really matters in this election: the issues, the candidates, and their positions.