The Bus, as the youth-focused group is known, has been an omnipresent force in local politics since Goldstein---at 46 an energetic, youthful leader with close-cropped hair and a kinetic presence---started it up in 2007, training organizers, turning out voters, and co-sponsoring political events, most notably partnering with the Stranger on the Candidate Survivor local campaign variety show.
"A leader should know when it's time to go," Goldstein told PubliCola this afternoon, explaining that he's been clear with the board from the beginning that his goal was to build the organization. The grassroots group now has ten full-time staffers.
Asked who would fill his shoes (their ubiquitous organizer Toby Crittenden certainly comes to mind), Goldstein said the group is doing an "open search," but added that they've got "internal capacity"—they've trained hundreds of young go-getters over the years—and "we've been blessed to have amazing people in the Bus world."
Goldstein's letter says he's staking a "permanent sabbatical." Asked to be more specific, Goldstein would only say he's "been working nationally on some projects outside the Bus on income equity."
Is he taking his sabbatical in Zuccotti Park?
"If I could get a Zuccotti Park on every hill and dale in the country, that'd be great," he said.
Goldstein added: "2012 is going to be epic." Goldstein, who says he's going to be a Bus volunteer, said he'd be in Seattle next summer.
One disappointment? Goldstein—who ran for city council himself in 1997—complained about the quality of people who've been running for city council lately and says he wants to see the Bus back some great progressive candidates.
Here's Goldstein's letter:
Dear Bus community,
In the spring of 2007, Rory Steele and Sarah Jaynes tapped me to run the Washington Bus. I made a commitment to serve as Executive Director until April of 2012, and with that date fast approaching I wanted to write you before I pass off the Bus baton.
As I am leaving the Bus soon, I want to check in before I start my permanent sabbatical.
Nearly every day, I am asked how I define the Washington Bus. For the last four years, my answer to that question has been: the Bus is a cultural movement that does politics, a political organization that operates as a cultural force, and a platform that launches young people into the center of Washington State’s civic life.
Since our founding, we have grown into one of Washington’s most dynamic and innovative organizations, training hundreds of young people, contacting voters by the thousands, and supporting scores of progressive candidates all across the state.
Serving as the leader of the Washington Bus has been an incredible privilege. I have strived to live up to the expectations of our varied stakeholders. But more than anything, I have attempted to lead this organization in a way that magnifies our collective capacity, imagination, and drive.
That was the sage advice given to me by the founders of the Bus, Benjamin Lawver, Chris McCullough, Joshua Johnston, and Rory Steele. Together, they brought the genius of the Oregon Bus Project across the Columbia River (thank you, Oregon. And thank you Jefferson Smith).
I have had the privilege of serving our Board of Directors and partnering with Board presidents Joshua Johnston, Mary Cadera, and Randy Engstrom. I am thankful for their visionary leadership and am confident in their ability to carry the Bus forward.
Major Gifts Committee Chairman, Jon Shirley has been a laser-focused leader. His mentorship has been invaluable. And I offer my sincerest gratitude to the Progress Alliance for incubating the Bus.
Since day one I have worked with an unparalleled staff. I am tremendously indebted to my colleagues past and present. They include: Sophie Raider, Dimitry Lukashov, John Healy, Sarah Nason, Gabriela Quintana, Wendy Cho Ripp, Toby Crittenden, Mollie Price, Mallory Gitt, Christina Rocks, Kirk Bigger, Alex Miller, Will Canine, Audrey Peek, Natalie Ortega, Nicole Keenan, Katherine Bobman, Cary Davis, Abigail Doerr, Danielle Kim, Sarah Cody Roth and Richard Yang.
What we have built together is compelling, relentlessly positive and, I hope, enduring.
During the next six months I will make my transition from staff to the more venerable position of Bus volunteer. I ask you to engage with the Bus through this transition process in the following ways:
o First, GIVING. In short, keep giving. Your time, ideas and money have built the Bus. Whatever you bring, keep bringing it. People always ask us what the secret of the Bus is, and it’s obvious: we’re better together.
o Second, PLANNING. At the Bus, we know that transparency and communication are essential, especially at this time. The Board of Directors is leading the process to find my replacement, informed by stakeholders as part of a larger strategic planning process funded by the Bullitt and Brainerd Foundations. If you’ve read this far, you’re absolutely a stakeholder, and we want to hear from you.
o Third, DOUBLE DOWN. 2012 presents historic opportunities for the Bus. With (perhaps) marriage equality on the ballot, a large civic engagement landscape, and candidates across the state who need the power of the Bus behind them, we have our work cut out for us. We are poised to have our strongest year ever. Clear your calendars, it’s go time.
It has been an honor to serve as the Bus’s Executive Director. We created this organization together and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead such a remarkable effort.
Please call xxxxx with any questions.
The Washington Bus and Washington Bus Education Fund