by Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

The Green Party has grown steadily in the 1990s, winning more races with each electoral cycle.

In 1997, US Greens won 10 races nationwide, high for an odd-numbered year when fewer elections are held. Meanwhile, 1998 is shaping up successfully as well, with three early victories already in March. These results follow a record 17 victories in 1996.

As of April, 1998, 52 Greens currently hold elected office nationwide. Thirteen out of 16 (80%) of Green incumbents have been elected since 1994. (The three that lost, did so by a combined 50 votes).

This upwards trend demonstrates the growing strength of Green candidates. This was particularly evident with the races of two city council incumbents — Joyce Brown (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) and Cris Moore (Santa Fe, New Mexico).

Brown finished first out of 10 candidates vying for four seats. Consistently popular with voters, she is entering her third consecutive four-year term — the longest stretch in elected office for a US Green. Moore won his single-seat district with 59% of the vote, a wide margin over the runner-up with 26%.

An easy victory also came about in a unusual way for Krista Paradise, an incumbent on the Board of Trustees in Carbondale, Colorado. Prepared to defend her seat, Paradise won by default when two candidates dropped out of the race, leaving only three candidates for the three open seats. With no competition, the town held a candidate’s forum, but then cancelled the election and saved money.

Last year’s election left Minneapolis boasting two Greens on its Parks & Recreation Board: Annie Young and Dean Zimmerman. Running on a sustainability and social justice platform, Young finished first for a citywide at-large seat, garnering more votes than any other candidate running for office in Minneapolis, other than the mayor. Zimmerman, meanwhile, won his single-seat district with 67%.

In New York, a state growing in Green strength, the Greens picked up two seats: Liz Simonson, Woodstock Town Board and James Corrigan, Board of Trustees, Northport Village. Both ran on similar platforms, vowing to control local growth and make government more accessible. Echoing similar sentiments, Gary Clauss became New Mexico’s second Green city council member with a victory in Silver City in early ‘97.

Five other Greens were elected to advisory positions: David Diehl & Aaron Willett, Ocean Beach Planning Group (CA), Timothy Moore, Ramona Planning Board, San Diego County (CA); and Kathy O’Hara & Darrell Crosson, Soil and Water Conservation Board, Rockbridge County (VA).

Last year’s election also highlighted a number of races in which Greens did not win, but were remarkably strong, boding well for the future: Abraham Guttman, City Council, Albuquerque, NM; Dan Herber, Mayor, LaCrosse, WI; Chris Patrouch, City Council, West Hollywood, CA; Lew Tremaine, Town Council, Fairfax, CA (Marin County); Nancy Pearlman, Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees; Elizabeth Horton Sheff, City Council, Hartford; Craig Seeman, Brooklyn, New York State Assembly; Sherry Stanley, Virginia House of Delegates; and Carol Miller, US House of Representatives, New Mexico.

Overall, 76 Greens ran in 14 states in 1997. New York ran 14 candidates, Connecticut 13, California 12, Minnesota 10 and Virginia seven. Fourty-one candidates were for city or town councils, with six victories. Seven candidates were for state legislature, topped by Craig Seaman’s 15.6% in New York and Sherry Stanley’s 10% in Virginia. Carol Miller received a US Green record 17% for Congress. Madelaine Hoffman received 1% in the first-ever Green gubenatorial campaign in New Jersey.