Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke appeared within a few days of each other in Flagstaff in February. LaDuke filled the 900-seat auditorium; and for Nader they had to add 300 sat next door with a TV screen. During these events, the Pima County Greens registered large numbers as Greens. In 1992, the Arizona Green Party and the Pima County Greens achieved both ballot status, but failed to maintain it in 1994 when more stringent requirements were required. In AZ, ballot status must be attained at each level of government individually. For example, if the Greens attains statewide status, then they can only run for state and national office, but not county, unless enough signatures were gathered in the individual county itself (the same petitions can be used if it is the same election year). City elections (Tucson in Pima County has the only partisan races) must be petitioned for separately, and ballot status maintained separately, with the same rules applied. Tucson Green Carolyn Campbell currently has a bill in the State House to reduce the number of signatures needed for various types of ballot status and independent candidates, and to push back (closer to the general election) the deadline for handing in signatures. Phoenix Green Sloane Haywood has also filed a law suit against the state along the same lines. Based upon the results, AZ Greens will decide upon which levels to seek ballot status in 1997 and 1998. Most likely will be Tucson, where several City Council seats are up, and the Greens have long had a strong local presence.
Since becoming the first Green City Council majority in US history last November, the Arcata Greens have been garnering a great deal of national press, including feature articles in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, US Today, People magazine, as well many international publications…As a result of the Nader campaign, the Green Party of California voter registrations went up almost 20% to 95,090….In West Hollywood, Chris Patrouch and local Greens ran an impressive grassroots campaign for City Council, finishing a close 4th/9 candidates for two seats on March 4th. Patrouch promoted a human scale, pedestrian-oriented urban environment, and successfully contrasted the Greens’ extensive gay/lesbian platform with the two sentences of the Democrat’s. His strong finish positions him well for a potential win in ’99…On April 8th, Dennis Kortheur is running for Los Angeles City Council District 15, which includes Watts, Wilmington and the San Pedro/Harbor areas. This is a product of Coalition LA, a long-running multi-cultural organization boasting some of LA County’s top progressive activists. Kortheuer, a San Pedro Green, is running with Diana Contreras (Wilmington) and Mujahid Abdul-Karim (Watts). The Coalition’s strategy is to split the vote and deny an April 8th primary victory to incumbent, ultra-conservative Republican Rudy Svorinich. If successful, they’ll force a two-person runoff between Svorinich and the top Coalition candidate. In run-off, the Coalition actually has a chance, because the 15th District actually has a substantial majority of Democratic over Republican registered voters, but Svorinich won last time when several Democrats split their vote in the primary and the only two Republicans survived to the run-off. Win or lose, the Kortheuer campaign is significant for the Greens because they are part of a coalition of widely separated working class communities, and an organization of the stature of Coalition LA is supporting a Green…In early April, Greens in the San Jose/Santa Clara area are hosting a statewide conference entitled Spring Forward: Moving Toward Social and Environmental Justice. The keynote speaker will be United Farm Worker vice-president Dolores Huerta, whose speech will include details of the UFW’s effort to organize California’s strawberry workers. Other topics include health care, toxins, welfare reform, affirmative action, socially-responsible investing and the nut and bolts of organizing… In ‘98, look for a Westside Greens campaign for proportional representation in Santa Monica, with the goal being to get the council to put it on the ballot for a public vote.
This past December, Sopris Green Krista Paradise became the first Colorado Greens to hold legislative office, after being appointed to a vacancy on the Carbondale Town Council. Other Councilmembers appointed Paradise after they heard about the Green majority in Arcata, CA, and felt that they too should have a Green. Earlier in ‘96, Paradise had run unsuccessfully for a seat on the Council. In ‘94, she was the Greens first state Lt. Governor candidate, running with Phil Hufford for Governor. Since Paradise has arrived on the council, she says she has helped ‘shift paradigms’. As part of that shift, the Sopris Greens, her local, have set up a Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) called SPUDS.. SPUDS stands for promoting our Skills, Prosperity, Uniqueness, and Diversity…Last fall, the Boulder Green Alliance (BGA) wrote and lobbied the City Council to put a charter amendment on the ballot to change the process used to fill council vacancies, from appointment to election. The BGA ran a modest campaign of education and outreach, and won 61% – 29%. Less than a month later, a city councilmember resigned, and the vacancy was filled by an election. Impressed with the Greens’ charter amendment campaign, the Council appointed local Green Mark Ruzzin to the city’s Planning Board. The BGA also helped lobby the council to pass an ordinance prohibiting the city from doing business with companies with operations in Burma. In 1997 the BGA has developed a GreenTV community access show, presented campaign finance reform proposals to the Council, and is part of the effort to have Boulder develop its own municipally-owned cable system, including high speed data wiring for telecommunications. Several BGA members are participating in the organizing of The Other Economic Summit, which will be held opposite the G-7 here in Denver in June. As a direct result of the Nader campaign, a new local called the Poudre Valley Greens was organized in the Fort Collins area. On March 13, they held a candidate’s forum in preparation for their April 8 City Council elections. On the state level, there is discussion of supporting a statewide living wage initiative.
The Green Party of Connecticut had its founding convention March 15th. Ironically, the party already gained ballot status before this meeting, by virtue of Ralph Nader receiving 2% in the ‘96 presidential elections (double the 1% required). Approximately 90 Greens attended morning sessions on bylaws, policy directions, and strategy. In the afternoon Nader gave a 45 minute speech on the need to overcome oligarchy and its dependent politicians in both major parties. At the end of the day, resolutions from the morning’s sessions on bylaws and policy were deliberated and approved. At least one Green is expected to run for a board of education seat later this year. In ‘98, CT Greens hope to convince Nader to run against corporate Democrat Chris Dodd for US Senate. Nader thus far has not indicated he will do so.
After coming close to winning in ‘96, both Julie Jacobsen and Julie Leialoha expect to run for Big Island County Council seats in 1998. On the state level, the Hawai’i Green Party is promoting a bill to change a state ballot access law which says a party must ‘successfully petition three times in a row’ for ballot status, in in order to receive guaranteed ballot status for 10 years, to instead say a party can simply ‘quality three times in a row’. In 1992 and 1996 the party successfully petitioned for ballot status. For 1994, the party qualified because Linda Martin received over 10% in a statewide race in the ‘92 elections (she received 14% for US Senate). The bill has gone through both state House and Senate Comittees and is likely to pass, but the state Chief Elections officer is trying to stop it. If he is successful, then Hawai’i Greens will once again gather signatures to requalify their party.
On the basis of the energy generated from the Iowa ‘Nader for President campaign, the beginnings of a Green Party in Iowa are underway. Currently there are locals in Ames and Iowa City, and in November, 1997 Iowa Greens will have their first candidate – 27 year-old Russell Lovetinsky, for Iowa City Council, District B.
In the 1996 elections, neither the Maine Green Party’s presidential candidate Ralph Nader nor its US Senate candidate John Rensenbrink, cracked the 5% vote barrier. That means the Maine Green Party will lose its ballot status unless the Legislature enacts a bill drafted by outgoing Secretary of State Bill Diamond, changing the threshold from being applied every two years, to simply being applied every four. The bill is currently being pushed by the chair of the legislature’s Legal/Veterans committee and there is wide public support, including from the League of Women Voters and the pages of the Bangor Daily News. If the legislation is not passed, Maine Greens plan to challenge the law in the courts. Without ballot status, current Green registrations would be dropped and new ones could not be accrued…Maine Greens continue to operate a successful state office in the state capitol of Augusta, keeping up with legislation and testifying at hearings. They testified recently against the state’s only nuclear power plant and in favor of preserving the right of initiative/referenda. The party’s statewide Green Council which meets monthly, is composed of two delegates from each of Maine’s 16 counties plus the two co-chairs of the party, Nancy Allen and Tom Fusco, and the Secretary, Gail Vorbach. The state newsletter is published two to three times/year. Fundraising relies on people contributing a “dime a day”, paid quarterly or annually. In 1998, plans include doubling Green voter registration and contesting several state legislative candidacies and the governorship, where a great prospect has surfaced but the party has yet to reveal the name. Maine Greens have created a 501(C)3 non-profit organization called the Katahdin Center, named after Maine’s most famous mountain. Other Greens, under the leadership of 1994 Green gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Carter, have organized a Forest Ecology Network to carry on the struggle to protect the Maine woods in concert with a large variety of groups who are not in the Green Party but are in solidarity with its ten key values.
The Massachusetts Green Party is currently discussing standards and qualifications for people who want to run as Greens. No decisions have been made for 1997, but in 1998 its likely that the MAGP will run a statewide candidate to achieve full party status. Currently the MAGP is registering people to vote as Greens, which is allowed under Massachusetts law because the party has already been granted official ballot designation. Party members are also working on the state platform, which will be discussed at the MAGP second annual gathering in May.
According to long-time Green organizer Lowell Nelson “here in the land of 10,000 lakes and 10,001 excuses for not leaving the Democratic Party, the Green Party of Minnesota continues to grow in size and confidence. We will run against the phony status-quo progressivism of the Democrat Party and promote the insurrectionary spirit of the Green Party as an alternative”. In Minneapolis, the Twin Cities Greens are part of a coalition to establish proportional representation, and may contest City Council and Park Board races later this year. Up north, the Duluth Area Greens are following last year’s partially successful efforts to stop mall sprawl with a living-wage campaign. In a related effort on the state level, Greens are active in the Welfare Rights Committee, a coalition to convince the state legislature to address the damage done by last year’s Congressional welfare “reform”. On the electoral front, the GPMN is currently petitioning for minor party status (2,000 signatures required). This would enable the party to become eligible for state funding through a process where small contributions to the party get refunded to the contributor by the state. In ‘98 a Green gubernatorial candidacy is under discussion as well as for state legislature and possibly Congress.
In the summer of 1996, the Green Party of Nevada gained ballot status by gathering over 3,700 valid petition signatures. It then retained that status through the ‘98 elections by virtue of Nader/LaDuke receiving 1% of the vote, For ‘98, discussions are underway for potential candidates. Nevada Greens are also focusing on nuclear issues, including fighting the resumption of nuclear testing and the transportation of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain. This Easter, they hope to shut down the Nevada nuclear test side.
Having organized on a local, non-electoral level for many years, New Jersey Greens came together on a statewide basis for the first time in ‘96 to coordinate the Nader campaign. Now in ‘97, they plan to run Madelyn Hoffman for Governor. Hoffman was Nader’s vice-presidential candidate in New Jersey and is a long-time activist who founded the Ironbound Committee Against Toxic Wastes to help organize in immigrant and working class neighborhoods. In subsequent years, she’s continued that work as Director of the New Jersey Grass Roots Environmental Organization, a position she still holds. Hoffman’s campaign plans to attack Republican Governor Whitman’s record of cutting welfare and health benefits; weakening environmental protections; and pitting business interests against those of the citizens of the state. Hoffman will offer a single payer universal health program for New Jersey in response to growing public dissatisfaction with HMO’s and insurance companies. With the Democrats in disarray (they have a multitude of regional gubernatorial candidates and a message little different than Whitmans), the Greens hope to establish their identity in ‘97 as New Jersey’s true progressive alternative.
As a result of the strong showing of the New Mexico Green Party (NMGP) in 1994, then-Green Lt. Governor candidate Steven Schmidt was appointed to five-member State Board of Education. In New Mexico, the Board is a constitutional office, overseeing policy and management of public education, with a budget making up 48% of the state’s total. Schmidt’s priorities have been to focus on strategic long-term planning, to make education a higher priority and to secure the funding it needs. This past January, in part due to Schmidt’s efforts, the Board finished its first every strategic plan. Schmidt also helped convince the Board to make environmental education a part of the basic curriculum taught in 89 school districts for the first time ever…With Democrat Bill Richardson vacating his Congressional seat to become UN Ambassador, the NMGP has put forward Carol Miller as its nominee in the special election to replace him. The open seat is in the northern portion of the state that includes Santa Fe, where the Greens have received by far the strongest support in their bids for elective office (23% for Governor, 1994). The district is normally considered safe for the Democrats, with a 2-1 Democrat-Republican ratio, but a strong Green contender may alter the dynamics. Miller is a lifelong health care activist who was a single-payer advocate as part of Hillary Clinton’s 1993 health care task force. Miller is also immediate Past President of the New Mexico Public Health Association, represented the Frontier Constituency Group on the Board of the National Rural Health Association for six years, and is a three term Governing Councilor to the American Public Health Association. In ‘96, she ran for the State Senate as a Democrat in ’96 and unsuccessfully tried in court to be a Democrat/Green fusion candidate, as the NMGP had nominated her as well. Her Democratic opponent Eric Serna, is considered vulnerable because he has been enshrouded by ethics violation charges throughout his 16-year tenure as a state corporation commissioner and because of the widespread perception that his choice as nominee was pushed through the Democratic Central Committee without grassroots participation…NMGP Greens registrations continue to climb, now the second highest in the nation with 6,500+…In ‘98, the NMGP is expected to field some statewide candidates, but not necessarily a gubernatorial candidate. Whether they do so depends in part upon how progressive a candidate the Democrats would put up in exchange for the Greens not contesting the office. In 1994, the NMGP received 10.4% for governor and the Democrats lost by 9%. Hence there is potential for leverage.
The first New York Green electoral campaign in 1997 came in Brooklyn: Craig Seeman’s candidacy in a special election for State Assemblyperson in Assembly District 52. Seeman campaigned for the same seat last November, losing with 6.8% to Democrat Eileen C. Dugan, who held the seat for 16 years prior. Three days after the election, Dugan died unexpectedly. In the special election, Seeman won 15.6% of the vote, finishing 3rd/4. He spent $3,000, and in the several districts where the Greens were best organized, received between 30%-50%. Seeman’s platform included jobs/sustainable economy, universal health care, intensive recycling, campaign finance reform and public transportation. Seeman was officially endorsed by the Sierra Club and C.W.A. locals 1180 and 1182, both of which provided material support. These alliances are expected to continue into the fall, when local Greens consider mayoral and city council campaigns.
The Orange County Greens started in 1985, organizing around issues of quality of life/sustainable development, including public transportation, alternative/renewable energy, and green economics. In 1989 they elected Joyce Brown to the Chapel Hill City Council and reelected her in 1993. This fall she’ll run a third time. In 1995, local Greens also elected Alex Zaffron to the Board of Alderman in neighboring Carrboro. By virtue of these campaigns, the Greens not only have elected two of their own, but have succeeded in moving the overall spectrum of local electable candidates in the progressive direction. 1995 also saw local Greens organizing a successful local initiative for voluntary campaign spending limits. Half the candidates in the ensuing election accepted the limits and as a result, the mayors of Chapel Hill and Carrboro will hold a public forum on campaign spending this spring, likely leading to a stronger initiative in the fall. In 1997, the Greens also will support a local living wage campaign based on requiring contractors who receive contracts with the county to pay at least $7/hr, with the final rate blinked to bringing a family of four out of poverty.
As a result of organizing in ‘96, Pacific Party registration is now approaching 1500, up from about 500 before the campaigns. The party is considering a 1998 initiative for proportional representation in the Oregon House of Representatives. It is also examining re-submitting a statewide initiative to ban clear-cutting and chemical spraying in Oregon’s forests.
LaCrosse Green co-founder Dan Herber was elected to the LaCrosse City Council in 1993 at age 21. This year, instead of running for reelection, he’s chosen to run for Mayor. In the February primary he finished 2nd/7. Now he’s in a run-off with the first place finisher whom he trailed 52.9% – 18.%. In closing the gap, Herber and local Greens have an impressive precinct operation underway, including campaign signs all over the city. A primary issue has been Herber’s 8-year long opposition on environmental and fiscal grounds, to a state Department of Transportation $70 million limited access highway through LaCrosse’s neighborhoods and wetlands. In April of 1991, Herber voluntarily turned in his driver’s license and has not driven since. Once elected, he’s served on several transit-related committees, and authored a report on alternatives to road building, including strategies for redensification, infill, mixed-use developments, mass transit expansion, human-powered vehicle promotion, and other strategies to limit urban sprawl and promote alternative travel modes. With Herber leaving his District seat, long time local Green Bill Horman is running for it and has a very good shot at winning. In Eau Claire, Amanda Cook ran in the February City Council primary, but did not advance to the run-off. She campaigned on fighting urban sprawl, particularly with Eau Claire’s downtown in decay. She also advocated a city living wage policy… The Madison Greens are part of a coalition of groups including the New Party and the Farmer-Labor Party that make up Progressive Dane (PD). The PD candidate for mayor John Hendrick did not make it past the primary, finishing a close 4th/8 with 17% (first was 21%). Hendrick may run for State Assembly in ‘98, particularly because during his mayoral campaign for he won every ward that was also located in his Assembly district by large margins. In Madison, the Univeristy of Wisconsin Greens recently won seven seats out of 30 on the student government board, making up the largest single bloc. In Northwest Wisconsin, the Lake Superior Greens are working on Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW) designation for Lake Superior and a host of related wetland/land use issues and pesticides issues…As a result of the Nader campaign, the Wisconsin Greens gained ballot status in 1996. In 1998, there is a strong possibility they’ll run their first statewide candidate, likely a well-known Wisconsin progressive figure for Governor.