Perimeter Progressives, a local group formed in response to President Trump’s election, drew more than 60 residents and several elected officials to its debut meeting Feb. 28 in Dunwoody.

Joe Seconder, a well-known Dunwoody bicycling advocate who created the group, told the crowd that he intends to focus on local politics with an appeal to both Democrats like himself and disaffected centrists as well. He spoke of city-level organizing as a way to push changes up to the federal level, though he didn’t specify any agenda.

The Perimeter Progressives logo on display at the Feb. 28 debut meeting at Cafe Intermezzo in Dunwoody. (Photo John Ruch)

“We can meet in the middle,” Seconder said, kicking off the gathering at Café Intermezzo, a coffee house near Perimeter Mall. But he also joked, “This is the celebration party for Hillary [Clinton] winning Dunwoody” in liberal-rousing election results in the Republican-dominated area. State Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) also spoke briefly, calling for making “Georgia blue from the statehouse to the White House.”

Other officials in attendance included Dunwoody City Councilmember Lynn Deutsch, who declined comment, and Chamblee City Councilmembers Thomas Hogan II and Brian Mock. Stumping for votes were Ron Slotin, a Democratic former state senator from Sandy Springs now running for the 6th Congressional District seat, and Keenan Pontoni, the campaign manager for Jon Ossoff, another Democratic candidate in that race. Sally Harrell, a Democratic former state representative who briefly joined the 6th District race, also attended.

Residents of such areas as Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and Gwinnett County made the trip for the event.

For longtime liberal activists like Keith and Nancy Kaylor of Dunwoody, the event was exciting. The Kaylors have both run for local and state offices and once formed a small Dunwoody chapter of the national political and socializing group Drinking Liberally.

Perimeter Progressives founder Joe Seconder, left, holds the microphone for Dunwoody Elementary student Carter Dyche, who led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. (Photo John Ruch)

“I’m totally awestruck at how many people are here,” said Keith Kaylor, explaining that his group used to be lucky to draw five people. With Trump’s election, he said, “A lot of people really were complacent and we got a big shock.”

Others were drawn by the group’s appeal to centrism and local politics. Robert Wittenstein, president of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, noted that Seconder spoke of the group representing a spectrum of political opinions, and “I’m somewhere in the middle.”

Held on a covered patio with a buffet and bar, and only brief remarks from Seconder and Park, the low-key event was more cocktail party than political party. But where politics came up, they were decidedly left-wing.

Tamara Johnson-Shealey, a Democrat who has unsuccessfully challenged Dunwoody Republican Fran Millar for the local state Senate seat, worked a table at the door, signing up people to volunteer on “progressive campaigns.” And the guest speaker announced for the group’s next meeting heads an effort to elect candidates who support abortion rights.

Ron Slotin, left, a Democratic candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat, and state Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) pose while chatting outside before the Perimeter Progressives meeting. (Photo John Ruch)

The meeting opened with a Pledge of Allegiance playfully led by Carter Dyche, a Dunwoody Elementary School fifth-grader sporting a “John Lewis Speaks For Me” button, which he said he got from the congressman and Civil Rights leader during an office visit. When Seconder later mentioned Clinton’s strong showing locally, Dyche called out, “She’s the president of Dunwoody!”

At least 60 people attended the first hour, and organizers later said a total of 104 people signed in over the course of the evening. Seconder said the group raised more than $750 in donations at the door.

Some of the attendees mingle at the Perimeter Progressives meeting. (Photo John Ruch)

Several attendees noted that the group is part of a wave of new and revived grassroots liberal groups that has followed Trump’s election. A very similar group is the Roswell-based Needles in a Haystack, founded in 2012. Other such liberal groups mentioned by attendees were a Gwinnett area chapter of the “Indivisible” movement; the “Huddles” that have come from the Women’s March demonstrations in January; and “Team Seven,” a group of progressive activists that has quietly worked on Dunwoody and Sandy Springs elections for a few years.

“I’m seeing this all around the district,” said Slotin. “There are progressive groups popping up everywhere…It’s almost forming neighborhood by neighborhood.”

The welcome table at the Perimeter Progressives meeting. (Photo John Ruch)

“This election cycle has more groups than usual,” said Pontoni, who also served as campaign manager for Michigan state Rep. Gretchen Driskell’s unsuccessful challenge of an incumbent GOP congressman in the November election.

“People are starting to pay attention, especially to local politics,” said Johnson-Shealey.

“Democracy is a muscle,” Park said in an interview before the meeting. “To see it beginning to flex and people beginning to wake up is very encouraging.”

Perimeter Progressives next will start monthly meetings at the Dunwoody Branch Library. The guest speaker at the March 8 meeting will be Melita Easters of Georgia’s WIN List, a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.

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John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

25 replies on “Perimeter Progressives political group draws crowd for debut”

  1. I’m sure the author loved this event, given his liberal slant in every article. I am sure the meeting had a similar Marxist bent to every other meeting of progressives – how to use veiled policy prescriptions to keep people dependent on the government and increase its power. Yawn.

    1. I’m sure the commenter loved this article. Given his slant to make assumptions without any facts – likely veiled comments to maintain his and others preconceived notions without doing any work to meet the other side or truly understand the issues.

      1. ….”celebration Party for Hillary winning Dunwoody.” MIGHT support some preconceived notions…..”truly understand the issues”–just how does one “truly” understand an issue??

        I’m sure us commentators love to pontificate…oh, enough already pass the schlag ( even if it’s not organic)….

    2. Hi Mr. Victor,
      I assure you there was no veiled or unveiled Marxism being espoused. You can rest easy. Just a nice evening of folks catching up with one another and working through ways to make a positive impact in our country. My hope for you is that support of the government is never something required.

  2. It is too bad – and bad for America – that so many Progressives/Elites/Globalists refuse to participate in the American System. Will they ever work with Mr. Trump?

      1. What is so wrong with participating in local politics? That’s what conservatives did in response to Obama’s election. Organized dissent is critical to democracy.

    1. No that is too difficult if you have morals.
      At least you didn’t call him President.

      The group you mention does participate just like our political leaders. The issue is why when Republican politicians go to Europe and use unisex toilets do they then come back to America and profess bathrooms as a security issue? The politicians should be educating on what works and Unisex bathrooms work just fine for them when outside America. None of them where even raped when abroad in a unisex toilet.

      Why are we hearing about Terrorism as a problem when the fact is Americans kill more Americans everyday in this country than immigrants or refugees. Add up all the Refugee/Immigrant related crimes ending in dead Americans since 9/11 and it won’t equal one day of dead Americans by Americans. Why all the hate on a problem that doesn’t exist?

      Maybe the reason is scaring a bunch of Americans is easier than educating for Republicans where as the Democrats try to educate without forcing a religion on others and allowing them to practice their religion of choice.

  3. It was my first ever political organizing event and I thought it was a great start. As a middle of the road guy, it is wonderful to see a group of like minded citizens also concerned about the path our country has chosen. Seemed like a lot of people who felt the same way… I’m not too worried about turning Georgia dark blue, but it would be nice to see us play a part in restoring sanity to our government.

  4. I’m very excited about the prospect of promoting Progressive values and Progressive leaders both in Georgia and nationally. They are desperately needed at both levels. Let’s move forward Georgia, no backwards! Hoping to attend the next PP event. Thanks for getting this much needed grassroots group off the ground Joe.

  5. Thanks Joe for organizing such a positive evening. It was refreshing to share our commitment with so many like minded friends – both new and old!! I think everyone I spoke to shared the common bond of caring for our neighbors.

  6. Great meeting, with attendees ranging from ‘lean Republican’ to liberal. I heard no talk of Marxism, just people interested in being more involved in ensuring that elected officials represent their position. Great to see a wide range of voters, from high school seniors to senior citizens. The March 8 meeting will focus on identifying, training and nurturing electable leaders and how to be involved in campaigns.

  7. Refuse to participate in the American System? I think you more accurately mean to say you are appalled by people with different views on the current administration and of yours. That’s certainly your right. Just as was ours to peacefully meet. I can assure you there were no obstructionist rants or name calling. It was pleasant, positive, informative, and completely respectful of the American System.

  8. I don’t know how anyone can support the racist narcissist liar bully Fascist Trump. He spent 2 years hating on and offending anyone and everyone who wasn’t a Christian white male in the top 1%. He’s in bed with Russia. He’s a traitor to America as is every Republican. People need to stop drinking the FOX Noise Kool Aid and think for themselves about what’s going on. The FBI and the Russians and voter suppression helped Trump get elected. He is as illegitimate as they come.

  9. Grateful for this group of true patriots who are working for the good of our country against the Leninist slant our current governement has taken.

  10. So glad to read about this meeting – it used to feel like mine was the only progressive family in Dunwoody, because the conservatives seemed much more visible and vocal. Lately I’m realizing that we centrist-progressives may be the no-longer-silent majority.

  11. Until this election cycle I was a lifelong GOP voter, with a few exceptions. DJT , and the Republican leadership, are taking our country BACKWARDS to the days of the Cold War, racism, and exclusion.

    I’m proud to support the Perimeter Progressives group as we seek to bring common sense back to government.

    The excitement and dedication to good government at the PP event this week is a welcome change to the news coming out of Washington and, to some extent, the Gold Dome.

  12. As a socially liberal independent, I really appreciated a chance to meet with my northern suburb neighbors and discuss our views on the current administration and opportunities for us to get involved in politics at a local level. For those who question why we don’t want to participate in the American System, I suggest you go back to civics class, because this is exactly what the American system is. Freedom of association, freedom of speech and the opportunity to get personally involved in how you are governed. I’m looking forward to more opportunities to meet like minded neighbors and our representatives at future meetings.

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