2008 Winter Elections


Tom Yager, Presidential Campaign Support Committee

In August 2007, the Green National Committee voted to hold the 2008 Presidential Nominating Convention in Chicago from July 10-13. A great deal of work is necessary for the success of the Green Party’s nomination process. The Presidential Campaign Support Committee (PCSC), the Committee on Bylaws, Rules, Policies and Procedures (BRPP), the Annual National Meeting Committee and Convention Credentials Committee all have key roles in making it happen.

The BRPP has written convention rules, including the credentialing of state delegations. The drafting of rules to govern the nominating process itself was still in process in January 2008.

The PCSC has been charged with numerous tasks, including responding to inquiries from declared and potential candidates; helping them to start fundraising, finding volunteers, and other campaign activities; assisting state parties with their presidential nominating primaries and caucuses; and coordinating presidential candidate forums.

Becoming a nationally recognized Green Party presidential candidate

Officially recognized candidates for the Green Party nomination were required to meet the following criteria, as approved by the National Committee in September 2007 (Proposal 311):

  •  To submit an official Candidate Questionnaire to the PCSC.
  •  To not be a member of another political party.
  •  To pledge to use all offered Green Party ballot lines.
  •  To have a website for his/her candidacy.
  •  To receive verifiable support from 100 Green Party members, including members from at least 5 state parties, no later than December 1, 2007.
  •  To establish a campaign committee and file with the Federal Elections Commission, no later than December 31, 2007.
  •  To raise at least $5,000, not including self-financing, for the purpose of his/her campaign, no later than February 1, 2008.

According to this same policy, individuals could also receive recognition as draft candidates if they met the following criteria:

  •  To not be a member of another political party.
  •  To receive verifiable support from 100 Green Party members, including members from at least 5 state parties, no later than December 1, 2007.
  •  To meet the remaining criteria for officially recognized candidates by December 31, 2007.

The PCSC worked with declared and potential candidates to help them meet these criteria. It also encouraged applicants who were not ready to run in 2008 to seek other elected offices or to consider running in 2012.

As of mid-January 2008, there were five officially recognized candidates according to these criteria: Jared Ball, Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift. Although Ralph Nader did not meet the December 31st deadline by mid-January, the PCSC nevertheless considered him as a recognized draft candidate.

Presidential candidate forums

In July 2007, the PCSC put together a forum for all the then declared candidates to speak at the Green Party’s annual national meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania. Since then, the PCSC has assisted state parties with setting up and coordinating their own presidential candidate forums.

The first was held by the Green Party of Minnesota in Minneapolis on January 5th with Johnson, Swift and representatives for McKinney and Nader. Then on January 13th at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Ball, Johnson, McKinney, Mesplay, Nader and Swift were all in attendance. Under the header “Green Campaign 2008: A Presidential Debate that Matters”, the debate attracted more than 800 people and was rebroadcast and archived on Pacifica Radio Station KPFA in Berkeley and also uploaded on YouTube.

At this debate Ball dropped out of the race and endorsed McKinney in his place. An assistant professor of communications studies at Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD), Navy veteran who served during Desert Shield/Desert Storm and D.C. Green Party member, Ball is an independent journalist, radio host with Pacifica Radio WPFW (Washington, DC,) Editor-at-Large of the Words, Beats and Life Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture and founder of FreeMix Radio: The Original Mixtape Radio Show.

In February candidate forums are being held in the District of Columbia for the D.C. Greens and in the state capital of Harrisburg for the Green Party of Pennsylvania. Further forums are scheduled for Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York. To view videos from these debates, see www.gp.org/ 2008-elections/presidential-videos.php

State party primaries, conventions and caucuses

The PCSC is helping state Green Parties develop their democratic processes for electing delegates to the convention. Because of differences in state laws and state party ballot status, the processes vary widely from state to state

Greens in Arkansas, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts had state-funded primaries on February 5; and in Washington D.C., on February 12. The Mountain Party of West Virginia will also hold its primary on February 12. The Arkansas primary is “open”; any registered voter may participate because Arkansas does not have registration by party. The Massachusetts primary is “closed”; only registered Greens may participate.

Ballot access laws for primaries are highly variable between different states. In Arkansas, California, and Massachusetts, the state simply accepts the candidates approved by the party leadership. In the District of Columbia, a candidate must collect signatures from one percent of the party’s registrants. In Illinois, candidates in the primaries were required to collect a minimum of 3,000 signatures. The Illinois Greens, by petitioning, succeeded in placing Ball, McKinney, Mesplay and Howie Hawkins (a stand-in for Nader), on the ballot last fall.

Although the Green Party currently has ballot access in 21 states, not every party with ballot access is eligible for a state-funded primary. In some states, such as Arkansas, California, D.C., Illinois, and West Virginia, having ballot status automatically allows a state to hold a primary. However, other states make distinctions between ballot-qualified minor and major parties. In Texas, for example, it is possible for a party to get ballot status by winning five percent of the vote in a statewide race, but to not be eligible to hold a primary if the party did not get three percent of the vote in the previous Governors race.

Parties that are ineligible for state-funded primaries are holding caucuses, conventions, or mail ballots of their membership. On March 4th, the Green Party of Minnesota plans to hold its caucus. The Green Party of Virginia will conduct a mail ballot in March. The Green Party of Pennsylvania will hold county caucuses from April 24 through May 10. The Green Party of Texas will hold its nominating convention in June.

A complete nomination calendar, including party primaries, conventions, caucuses and state delegate selection timing, is at www.gp.org/2008-elections/ president/nomination_calendar.

Delegate apportionment: state and national

The PCSC is encouraging as many state parties as possible to have their delegates chosen and instructed by April 1. Under the convention rules passed by the Green National Committee in November 2007, “States are urged to provide in their Delegate Plans for a delegate selection process that offers representation proportional to the support each candidate enjoys within the state Green Party represented by the delegation  and that allows the delegation to reflect the diversity within the state Green Party and the state’s population”.

In January 2008, the National Committee approved a delegate apportionment formula (Proposal 336) establishing that GPUS affiliated caucuses and state parties shall receive four times the number of delegates allocated for the Green National Committee. Unaffiliated states, territories and caucuses, credentialed according to convention rules or affiliated after apportionment, shall be allocated four votes and four delegates.

Each delegate seat counts for one vote. Proxy votes are allowed, as provided for in the convention rules, as long as the total number of votes cast for does not exceed twice the number of voting delegates in attendance for that delegation.

A complete breakdown of the number of delegates per state is available at www.gp.org/cgi-bin/vote/propdetail? pid=336

Recognized declared presidential candidates as of late January 2008

Jesse Johnson is the co-chair of the Mountain Party of West Virginia, which became affiliated with the Green Party of the United States at the national meeting in Reading last July. He produced, directed, and acted in many plays and films, and founded Talkback, Children Respond to Violence in the Media, which uses the arts to teach inner-city elementary school students how to combat violence. He was the Mountain Party’s candidate for Governor in 2004 and U.S. Senate in 2006.
http://www.jesse08.org/

Cynthia McKinney was elected to the Georgia state legislature as a Democrat in 1988 and to Congress in 1992. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the U.S. House of Repre senta tives, serving in Congress from 1993 to 2003 and from 2005 to 2007. She served as an advocate for voting Hurricane Katrina victims disenfranchised in the 2000 and 2004 election. Last year, she left the Democratic Party and registered as a Green.
http://www.runcynthiarun.org/

Kent Mesplay has been a registered Green since 1995 in California, serving as one of his state’s delegates to the Green National Committee since 2004. He has worked as a substitute teacher and an Air Quality Inspector at the Air Pollution Control District, San Diego. He also served as the president of Turtle Island Institute. In 2004, he ran in the Green presidential primaries and caucuses, and in 2006, in the Green primary for U.S. Senate.
http://www.mesplay.org/

Kat Swift is a member of the Green Party of Texas, having served on her party’s State Executive Committee and as co-spokesperson for the national partys Womens Caucus. She has served as a facilitator for the Green Party and for several other organizations, groups, and coalitions, including Clean Money San Antonio and SA Democracy Now. She currently works as an accountant. In 2007, she became the first Green to run for the City Council of San Antonio.
http://www.bexargreens.org/katforprez/

Recognized draft presidential candidates as of January 2008

Ralph Nader has been a long-time advocate for consumer rights, environmental causes, product safety, and greater government and corporate accountability. He helped to pass numerous reforms, including the National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Consu mer Product Safety Act. He founded or sponsored many organizations, including Public Citizen and Multinational Monitor. In 1996 and 2000, he was nominated as the Green Partys Presidential candidate.
http://www.votenader.org/

*****

Note: Subsequent to the publication of this issue, Ralph Nader announced his candidacy for President as an Independent

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Mike DeRosa, Green Party of Connecticut and Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

For the first time in four years, the New Haven Board of Aldermen (City Council) has a Green alderman. Allan Brison was sworn in on January 1st, 2008, along with the other 29 elected members of the Board of Aldermen, at Beecher Primary School wearing a green tie loaned to him by his fellow New Haven Green Party co-chair Charlie Pillsbury.

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In the November 6th election, Brison trounced incumbent Democrat Edward Mattison in a two-way race 386 votes to 283 (57.7%). Mattison had been Ward 10 Alderman for 6 years and on election night was observed by supporters to be shocked as the numbers from the precincts came in.

Brison told the Green Party of Connecticut’s Green Times that he had “beat a well entrenched political insider who has never voted against a significant piece of legislation proposed by long-time Democratic Mayor John DeStefano.” New Haven Greens have long apposed the city’s strong mayor/weak council system of government, which they feel overly concentrates power in the hands of the mayor and by extension, the Democratic Town Committee chair.

Not only was Brison’s victory the first for a Green in four years, but it was the first against an incumbent alderman in a regular election. The last Greens to be elected were John Halle (Ward 9) and Joyce Chen (Ward 2) and both were elected to open seatsHalle in a July 2001 special election and Chen in a November 2001 regular election.

Brison’s lively campaign included participating in two debates, along with an active door-to-door campaign in Ward 10 in both the more affluent area of the ward and in the lower income Cedar Hill section near State Street.

Brison focused on the lack of independence in the Board of Education. Appointed by the Mayor, the School Board is too open to political interference, according to Brison. He recommends an elected Board of Education

An even more glaring problem is the lack of oversight of a police department that has been under investigation for allegedly planting drugs, and then falsely arresting someone who subsequently went to jail for many years, as well as falsifying overtime pay to increase retirement benefits. Brison recommends more oversight on the Police Department by the Board of Aldermen

Brison observed that while “gentrification of the downtown may make it look good, it has also driven people out of the city.” Brison favors a more humane type of economic development that will use small loans to en courage sustainable business development in the downtown area that truly serves local needs.

By contrast, according to Brison, de Stefano has promoted redevelopment that is not in the long-term economic interest of New Haven residents, instead favoring big developers who are given tax exemptions and then exit the city after they’ve benefited, leaving the city holding the bag.

Brison has also opposed what he be lieves is Yale University’s unilateralism in New Haven’s development and cultural and intellectual life. Its annual four million dollar donation vastly understates its real tax impact on the community. With a $22 billion endowment and several profit-making arms that are not taxed, Yale should do more, maintains Brison, to help pay the community’s cost in addressing poverty, unemployment and crime.

On the city’s streets, Brison wants the developments of carbon-free transportation that would include the greater use of bicycles, including setting aside a bike-only street, along with more bike lanes and the development of the fleet of public bicycles.

After receiving a higher percentage of the vote in his own ward than the May or, Brison enters the Board of Aldermen with the hope of making astriking economic and social contrast. About a third of the Board is generally progressive, he feels, and “depending upon the issue, additional coalitions can be built to do the public’s business, and perhaps green New Haven in the process.”

Mike DeRosa, Green Party of Connecticut and Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

In her third run for First Selectman of Windham (population 24,000) Jean de Smet defied local political experts by winning the town’s top elected office, defeating the three-term incumbent Democrat Michael Paulhus 1637 votes to 1514, with Republican Harry Carboni finishing a distant third with 471.

In Connecticut the office of First Selectman is the chief executive and administrative officer for most towns with the selectmen-town meeting form of government, and in Windham the First Select man is thus responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the town. Along with the ten members of the Board of Select man, the First Selectman also makes up the Town’s legislative body.

Because of the overly partisan nature of local elections in this highly Democratic town, de Smet (pronounced des May) joined independent dissident Democrats and Republicans in declining to list a party affiliation on the ballot. As a result, they became called the “Bottom Line Slate” because without a party affiliation, their names were all listed on the bottom of the ballot.

In an interview with the Green Party of Connecticut’s state newsletter Green Times, de Smet said her candidacy offered a “positive leadership” that emphasized “hope and working together.” The moving force behind a hugely successful series of inclusive and participatory street festivals in Windham (Willimantic’s 3rd Thursday Street Fests), de Smet’s activism led to rising expectations that the community could take back Windham from the “old boy network” that has run and ruined the town over the decades.

Her campaign emphasized sustainable economic development through supporting existing local businesses and historic preservation, while developing new, entrepreneurial startups, tourism and arts and entertainment in order to revitalize the town’s downtown, which has lost several important businesses over the last decade. She also advocated partnerships with the University of Connecticut and Eastern CT State University (ECSU) and, at her first post-election Board of Selectman meeting, suggested the ECSU’s Institute for Sustainable Energy as a logical place for the development of a “energy efficiency zone” in Windham.

In a town with a per capita income just under $17,000 and about 13% of local families below the poverty line, affordable housing was also a key campaign issue for de Smet. She was critical of the town’s proposed Main Street development project, which she argued followed the usual “gentrification” project approach that puts forward tax breaks to big developers while eliminating affordable housing.

De Smet also opposed the Zoning Board approval of the Cedarwoods project, which moved supportive housing as far as possible outside of the town’s downtown onto previously undeveloped land. After assuming office,  she took advantage of a rarely used section of the town’s charter that allows the First Selectman to vote at town board and commission meetings, to provide a protest vote against the project.

Using her power of appointment to Windham’s commissions, advisory boards, and other committees de Smet promised to appoint more grassroots residents in order to build greater citizen participation and promote  consensus in local government, including firmly establishing a fully-appointed Town Energy Commission for the first time. Hoping to turn Town Hall into a public service, one of the first things de Smet changed within City Hall after being sworn in was to ensure that the minutes of the Board of Selectman were published on the city’s web site.

A union Master Electrician for 28 years and two-term union officer with IBEW Local 35, de Smet will have to give up her job to assume the full time responsibilities as the town’s Chief Executive. She will have the distinction of being Windham’s last first selectman. At the same time she was elected, Windham’s voters approved a town manager/town council (with a mayor) form of government that will go into effect with the 2009 elections.

De Smet is the only Green among 11 selectman, while local Democrats have seven seats, but thus far they’ve worked with de Smet in her first few months in office.

The pejorative phrase “the quiet corner” has been often applied to northeast Connecticut by neglectful politicians and academics who have failed to address the regions true potential. After the election of Jean de Smet perhaps the northeast corner will be called “the activists’ corner.”

Chicago, Illinois
Thursday, July 10 – Sunday, July 13

Schedule
(subject to change)

THURSDAY, JULY 10—PALMER HOUSE HILTON
12–7 pm    Registration / Delegate Credentialing
1–2:45 pm    Workshops, committees and caucuses
3–4:45 pm    Workshops, committees and caucuses

5–7 pm    Break

7–9:30 pm    Opening / Welcoming Reception

FRIDAY, JULY 11—PALMER HOUSE HILTON
8 am–10 pm    Registration / Delegate Credentialing
9 am–12 pm    Platform Committee Hearings
9 am–1 0:30 am    Workshops, committees and caucuses
10:45 am–12 pm    Workshops, committees and caucuses

12 pm–1 pm    Break

1 pm–5 pm    National Coordinating Committee
1:45 pm–3:15 pm    Workshops, committees and caucuses
3:30 pm–5 pm    Workshops, committees and caucuses

5 pm–6 pm    Break

6 pm–7:45 pm    Presidential Candidate Forum
8 pm    Caucuses, presidential candidate campaign events (if any)

SATURDAY, JULY 12—CHICAGO SYMPHONY CENTER
7–8:30 am    Breakfast at Palmer House (included)
8:30–9 am    Doors Open at Symphony Center
9–12 pm    National Nominating Convention

12–1 pm    Lunch at Symphony Center (included)

1–5 pm    Nominating Convention continues

Note: the exact schedule will be determined after Floor Voting rules
have been approved by National Committee. Tentative plans are in process for an evening event, such as a concert, at a separate venue.

SUNDAY, JULY 13—PALMER HOUSE HILTON
7– 8:30 am    Breakfast at Palmer House (included)
9 am–Noon    National Coordinating Committee
9–10:30 am    Workshops, caucuses and committees
10:45 am–Noon    Workshops, caucuses and committees

Registration
Registration Fee – $225.00
Registration fee includes three meals: Saturday breakfast, Saturday lunch, and Sunday breakfast.
For group reservations, please contact the GP office at 202-319-7191 or toll free at 866-41GREEN.

Additional donations above the fee can be made to help support diversity waivers and more.

Note: as of June 15, the late registration fee will be $275.

Housing
The headquarter hotel for the 2008 GPUS Presidential Nominating Convention is the Palmer House Hilton, located in the heart of downtown Chicago, about 2 blocks from the Chicago Symphony Center, the site of the nominating convention to be held on Saturday July 12th.

The majority of events are being held at the Palmer House Hilton, including National Committee meetings, platform hearings, workshops and a presidential candidate forum.  Make your reservations for the Palmer House by calling them directly at 1-877-865-5321.

Please use the Green Party’s code “GRP” and mention the Green Party of the United States.

The Palmer House Hilton
17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603
312-726-7500
http://www.hiltonfamilychicago.com

Hotel Room Information:
Singles are $205 a night; Doubles are $230; Triples are $250 and Quads are $270. Prices do not include applicable taxes. The hotel requires the first night as a deposit in order to confirm a room reservation. Checks and major credit cards are acceptable to establish prepayment.

Other Accommodations:
The Arlington House International Hostel is located in Lincoln Park, close to both the EL and bus lines. Shared dormitory and private rooms are available.

Please check back periodically for more lodging information.  There will soon be a lodging sharing board on the local website.

For more information about the Chicago Symphony Center, please visit www.cso.org

Dave Lussier Misses New York County Election by Only 11 Votes
Mark Dunlea, Green Party of New York State

Dave Lussier, the Green Party candidate for Albany County Legislature (7th District) in New York, narrowly missed an opportunity to become one of only three Greens in 2007 elected in a partisan election. (In many states, only state and federal offices are partisan i.e., where candidates ran with party affiliation on the ballot. However in New York State, municipal and county elections are also partisan, making such elections even more challenging for local Greens).

On election night, Lussier held a 5-vote lead, 531 to 526, against the Dem o cratic challenger, Brian Scavo. But Scavo eventually won by eleven votes when paper and absentee ballots were counted. However, several ballots showed clear evidence of election fraud by Scavo (his handwriting showed he personally filled out ballots and misspelled the word “vacation” on two). But it wasn’t sufficient to overturn the election results.

Lussier, 31, is getting his Masters in Urban Studies. “One of the reasons for our success was that people are starting to grasp the importance of environmental issues. Global warming is part of it but they responded to issues like recycling, more bike paths and green energy. We gave them concrete examples of how green values could translate into beneficial action for their community,” Lussier said.

The 7th District spanned four different neighborhoods. Lussier won 3 of them, carrying the working class, student, and middle-class African-American areas. Scavo won the fourth, older white homeowners who voted against the city schools and property taxes, even though that isn’t the responsibility of the County Legislature.

Two years ago, Lussier pulled more than 30% of the vote, finishing second in a four-way partisan race for Albany City Council, District 11. This high vote is significant as Albany is the home of the most successful Democratic machine in the US, with a record of electoral success outstripping that of Chicago.

A former vice-chair of his local neighborhood association, Lussier works in construction. He handed out tulips to voters as part of his neighborhood beautification efforts. “Dealing with the problem of abandoned buildings in Albany has always been a top priority,” said Lussier. “I want them fixed up and put back into the hands of local residents who are invested in building a better community. The county also needs to do more to promote health care for all as a way to control Medicaid costs, and ensure a living wage to all county workers.” He added, “This campaign highlights that every vote does indeed count. I want to thank every voter in this election who made time to participate.”

Scavo’s track record of harassment of local residents, particularly young women, became a big issue during his campaign; many neighborhood leaders and even some Democratic party officials decided to back the Greens. The local alternative newspaper the Metroland ran exposs on Scavo and endorsed Lussier, stating “Lussier might be a little bright-eyed but there is no doubt that Lussier is the best man for the job. Lussier wants to ensure people have a reason to live in Albany County, and deal with the county’s abandoned-buildings problem. Plus, Lussier shines when compared to his Democratic opponent Brian Scavo. Two years ago when running for Albany Common Council, Scavo invited our then-news editor, Miriam Axel-Lute, on a date during an interview. But besides his questionable behavior, Scavo has campaigned on issues such as fixing Albany schools and reducing crime that he would have no control over as a county legislator. Lussier is quite simply the only choice on election day in the 7th District.”

Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the Green Party of New York State, remarked Lussier’s campaign was one the best organized in New York. They had a strong doorknocking campaign to do voter identification, and spent a lot of time making sure the information was kept up to date in a computer database. They had a target goal of 500 votes and managed to bring in a few more, as the turnout was unusually high. Throughout the afternoon and evening volunteers were checking the voting lists at the polling places and going door to door to make sure Lussier’s voters got out. Neighborhood residents were running out of their houses at 8 p.m. to ask the Green volunteers, “Hey, do you know if my neighbor has voted yet? Otherwise, I’ll go get him for you.”

“The door-to-door work was key. The machine takes too many voters for granted. We fell just short, but we showed that it is possible to beat the Democrats in Albany. Their air of invincibility is gone and it means that progressives can’t get away any longer arguing they agree with the Greens on the issues but can’t support us because we can’t win,” added Lussier.

Lussier had also been one of the founding members of the Green House movement in Albany, where young people lived together in a house and took on neighborhood projects such as distributing food, cleaning up vacant lots and opposing large corporate developments that would evict existing residents. Lussier’s new project is building snow people protestors throughout the neighborhood. “Snowmen and women have rights too,” he noted. “They have been out protesting global warming and no wars for oil. Snow people are a fun way to get people’s attention.”

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