Government

Westfield Activists Featured in ‘America Uprising’ Documentary

Westfield 20/20 co-founders Marci Bandelli and Lillian Duggan with former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at an event in May. Credits: Courtesy of Marci Bandelli

WESTFIELD, NJ — Activist group Westfield 20/20 was recently featured in the political documentary series “America Uprising.” Group creators Lillian Duggan and Marci Bandelli, along with group member and public education advocate Liz Mulholland, are featured in the production by Divided Films.

 

The documentary showcased the grassroots efforts of Westfield 20/20 and highlighted the efforts of group creators and members.

According to the group’s website, Westfield 20/20 is an all-volunteer based grassroots community of like-minded individuals who use the popular social platform to share news, information and actionable strategies.

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The group has garnered much recognition, and many attribute the influence of group members in  this month's Westfield town council and mayoral election.

Group co-founder Lillian Duggan said that the group was organized in the wake of the presidential election of last year.

“I was very upset after the election,” said Duggan, who added that the only comfort she felt was knowing that Donald Trump’s term had a limit. While Duggan didn’t have a specific goal at first, she felt that people needed to have a place to connect with like-minded individuals.

“I felt that people needed to organize,” she said.

A few days after the election, Duggan met with Marci Bandelli, a local acquaintance. The two had children in the same elementary school together and only days earlier, pre-election, had shared a hopeful exchange at a grocery store.

Bandelli, who has a similar political ideaology as Duggan, felt the same feelings of post-election anxiety.

“Something really terrible happened,” Bandelli said, adding that she was immediately on-board with Duggan’s Westfield 20/20 efforts.

“As individuals and women we needed to start paying attention and holding elected officials accountable,” she said.

The name Westfield 20/20 was created to represent the next presidential election year as well as to represent clarity in government.

“In the beginning it was absolutely chaotic,” Duggan said of the initial organization efforts. “We were trying to get organized. We had such a huge response.”

In their first meeting toward the end of November 2016 about 80 people showed up, she said.

“People just wanted to do things. People wanted to get to work,” she said.

Co-founder Bandelli believes that the recent government climate is what spurred interest in the group.

“It was the perfect platform for the perfect storm,” she said regarding people’s need for an organized place to vent frustrations with the current government.

As membership in Westfield 20/20 increased, Bandelli noticed that more and more people started showing up to Westfield Town Council meetings. 

According to Westfield 20/20 member and long-time public education advocate Liz Mulholland, the group appealed to her because of the far-reaching benefits that come with aligning with like-minded individuals.

“I noticed it was a large population of people,” said Mulholland, who often shares education policy and legislation with the group to drive awareness and action from its members. “People like me who have been trying to hold legislators accountable for decades are so happy to see that there’s other people holding legislators accountable.”

Mulholland added that she hopes that this does not become about attacking a specific party and that, instead, people hold elected officials accountable regardless of their party lines.

“My genuine hope is that it doesn’t become party-centric and that it is more every party,” she said.

See more films in the series at americauprising.com.

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