by Sheila Goldner, Mario Seidita, Nancy Price and Trent Lange
Jo Seidita was born on November 20, 1923 in Texas. She attended the University of Texas, where she met her husband, Nick, whose birthday was the same day as hers. She lived at Shangri La, a housing co op, after working in an Army hospital in San Antonio from 1943-1945.
Jo and Nick left for California the day after they were married. They found out Nick had been accepted at UCLA for graduate work in psychology when they arrived. They had two sons, Mario and Michael, while living in Veterans Housing on the UCLA campus. Later, they bought their first home in Granada Hills, and Nina and Lisa were born. When Lisa was 5, they moved to their home in Northridge.
Mario remembers that Jo and Nick were involved in the Fair Housing campaign in the early ë60s, which I believe involved putting an initiative on the California state ballot to overturn restrictive covenants that maintained racial segregation in housing. They were also involved in the Ban The Bomb movement at around the same time. They had their children sleep in the hallway because of all the death threats they were receiving. A little later on they were involved in the United Farm Workers movement and the anti-Viet Nam War movement. Mario attended many demonstrations with them.
Jo worked at San Fernando Valley State College (now CSUN), where she got her BA. She was a member of the committee that founded the San Fernando Fair Housing Council. During the Vietnam War, she organized peace conferences, an Anti Ballistic Missile program, and a large rally for getting out of Vietnam held at the Sports Arena. As Secretary of the California Democratic Council, she organized 500 midnight petition parties to get Senator Eugene McCarthy the first place listing on all California ballots in 1968. She did the same thing for George McGovern.
In 1996, she was one of the founding members of the Alliance for Democracy with Ronnie Dugger. Jo played a leadership role for a number of years on the national council. The Alliance for Democracy San Fernando Valley Chapter was one of the most vigorous and active for many years, and after voting to focus on money in politics, help launch and support the California Clean Money Campaign.
One of Jo’s most lasting legacies will be the California Clean Money Campaign (www.CAclean.org), which she co-founded along with Ted Williams in 2001. Starting at a time before Citizens United made it obvious to almost everyone how broken and corrupting our campaign finance system is, she started and led a movement in California that grew from a handful of activists around her kitchen table to what it is today, a grassroots powerhouse with more than 150,000 supporters and thousands of activists that have been educating the public about the need for Clean Money public financing of campaigns and helping pass laws in California for real campaign disclosure that lead the nation.
Memorial for Jo Seidita
Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society
9550 Haskell Avenue, North Hills, CA 91343
Jo, who passed recently, and her late husband Nick were lifelong progressive and humanitarian
activists, fixtures in the SFV.