1997 Fall Volume 1 Issue 2

by John Rensenbrink

The eyes of the Green world will be on Maine the weekend of October 3rd to 5th. Delegates from 20 member state parties of the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP) will assemble in the Grange Hall in Topsham, a coastal town “down east” thirty miles from Portland. Additional state Green parties considering joining will also be in attendance, as will kindred Green movement organizations.

The theme is “Building a Party of a Different Kind”. It will be the third meeting of the ASGP, whose stated purpose is to “assist in the development of state Green Parties” and “to create a national Green Party based on autonomous state Green Parties. The ASGP was launched in Middleburg, Virginia shortly after the election in November 1996 and was formally founded at Portland, Oregon in early April.

The keynote speaker on Saturday morning will be Madelyn Hoffman, New Jersey Green Party candidate for governor this fall. On Saturday the gropu will alternate between small group discussions and plenary sessions, taking up “growing Green Parties in 50 States,” “Building Towards a National Green Party,” and “Organizational Affairs of ASGP.” Dinner will be an old fashioned Maine clam bake with all the trimmings, followed by music and dancing.

On Sunday, after electing officers, the group will take up “Making Green Waves in the Wide World”. They will deal with cooperation with other third parties, relations with organizations of people of color, the development of a national platform, and the Presidency 2000.

The ASGP conference comes on the heels of a national meeting of the G/GPUSA in Lawrence, Massachusetts August 27 to September 2. Representatives from Califonria, Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexco attended with the hope of reforming the G/GPUSA structure, brining it closer to that of the ASGP, with the hope that this would accelerate the development of a single national Green Party. This reform did not materialize, as the G/GPUSA remained more fitted a confederation of local dues-based activist groups than to a national organization of state Green Parties. Now, Greens in these states and others are turning to ASGP as the likely vehicle through which a national Green Party, rooted in state Green Parties, will be achieved.

Steve Schmidt, New Mexico State Board of Education

Steve Schmidt, the NM Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor in 1994, and platform chair and principal drafter of the NM Green Platform, has been a member of the State Board of Education (SBE) since ’95 when he was confirmed by the State Senate after extensive hearings.’

Schmidt has taken on the constitutional responsibility of educational policy and oversight of around 1/2 of NM’s state budget. MNM has had an “equalization formula” distribution of education fuds since 1974 and was one of the first stats to seek equitable educational spending via a statewide funding system. A relatively poor state, NM has consistently rated education as one of the most important public concerns.

The NM Green platform sets out education as its “foundation” and beings its discussion of social justice and equal opportunity with a long, detailed set of education goals. I have often drawn from the platform in my work and regularly consulted with NM Greens on education issues.

During my term, I’ve developed and pushed an unprecedented number of education initiatives, with great success. It can now be said that an independent, Green educational perspective has been clearly heard within the state Capitol and Department of Education.

My most significant ‘green’ achievement is that for the first time, NM students wil have environmental studies in their science standards and curriculum, the result of language I added to newly adopted SBE performance standards and benchmarks. By memorializing good science and environmental ed requirements, NM’s students are assured a solid scientific, environmental curriculum and education. Other important initiatives I’ve pursued:

• as a member o the state educational plan committee, I’ve helped draft NM’s first-ever “Strategic Plan for NM Public Schools’;
• I was instrumental in putting together the last two legislative packages for the SBE, which in ’96 tripled educational spending over the amount proposed by the Governor and legislature
• I worked to put constitutional amendments o the ballot for enhanced revenues (they passed);
• I initiated law suits against oil and gas companies that were under-reporting their royalties to the state trust funds (which are major sources of educational funding), and the subsequent settlements will add tens of millions of dollars into NM’s educational fund flow;
• I successfully pushed to fund full NM scholarships for all high school students graduation in good standing
• I coordinated SBE technology initiatives, including state education telecommunications planning and budgeting; NetDay; the Western Governor (virtual) University start-up; distance learning efforts; the Department of Educations’ information and instructional materials restructuring, and web page design
• I recently chaired the stat Board’s Special Projects committee, funding a larger number of worthwhile education projects with emphases on high risk students, dropouts, Native American needs, and teacher training;
• I’ve been appointed to be Special liaison to the Commission on Higher Education, to draft five- and ten-year plans for NM’s college and university system;’’
• I am the SBE Representative to the Dept of Human Services, to assist in the development of education, jobs and welfare reform.

I hope he experiences of ‘older’ Greens like myself will help us realize what is possible. We need to be seen as ‘serious and credible’. The Gren platform is our foundation and our platform flows from our key values. We must also practice what we preach. As we consider ‘critical thinking skills’ language that has been added to our state’s educational standards, we should look to improve our own ‘critical thinking skills’ and reasoned argument I our political debate, at whatever level we are involved. We must become a critical conscience as we attempt to elevate the debate and improve the quality of public decision-making. This is our ongoing challenge.

On the state board, my daily goal has been to work with great energy and care. I’ve tried to give New Mexico’s children my very best, to make real difference in a very short period of time. It’s been overwhelming at times, but I think we’ve made some profound changes for the better. I’m thankful for having and the opportunity to serve, as a Green and as a strong voice for New Mexico’s young people.

A movement continues to grow
by Mike Feinstein

On the heals of the Green Party’s first-ever presidential campaign in 1996, 1997 will feature a record number of Greens running in an odd-numbered year. This follows a general Green growth trend in the 90’s and specifically is a measure of energy and growth the Nader/LaDuke campaign has helped bring about.

At least 72 Greens are running in ‘97. More than half of them – forty – are running for city, town or small county councils, including 26 for city council, eight for smaller town/township councils/constables/selectpersons, two for mayor, and four for county legislator in small county districts. Twenty two more are running for school board, park board, planning board, library and sheriff.

Two states conduct state-level partisan races in ‘97 – New Jersey and Virginia. Between them are six Green candidates for State House, one for State Senate and one for governor. Two other Greens already contested special election seats – in New Mexico, Carol Miller (see accompanying article) for US House of Representatives and in New York, Craig Seeman (Brooklyn) for State Assembly.

Of the states with the most candidates, Connecticut (13) was formed during the Nader campaign, while New York (13), California (10), Minnesota (9) and Virginia (7) have been around a while (California is the oldest, founded in 1990).

How have Greens done in races held thus far? As of mid-September, twenty-two Greens had run in either primary and/or general elections. Outright victories have been Gary Clauss for City Council in Silver City, NM (pop. 10,000) and David Diehl and Aaron Willett for the Planning Board in Ocean Beach, CA (the board is advisory only to the San Diego City Council).

Nancy Pearlman lost by only 249 votes out of 168,509 cast (49.92% – 50.07%) for Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. This would have been by far the largest district for a Green to have won thus far. Three additional Greens finished second in their primary elections, and then lost in the June general elections.

Several other candidates, while also not victorious numerically, significantly built the party with their candidacies. Most significant was Carol Miller, with her stunning 17% knocking out the Democrat for US Congress in New Mexico (see accompanying article). Craig Seeman’s 15.6% for State Assembly in NY was also very impressive.

On the municipal level, Chris Patrouch, West Hollywood, CA; Rick Van Landingham, Toledo, OH; and Karen Hadden in Austin, TX all ran credible first-time City Council campaigns. Austin and West Hollywood are traditionally progressive cities and were expected to field Green candidates some day. In Toledo, Greens are breaking through in a traditional industrial area that had not been considered a likely Green stronghold.

In LaCrosse, WI 25-year old incumbent Green Dan Herber gave up his safe City Council seat to run for Mayor against a well-financed, 16-year state assemblyperson who came home to run for mayor. Herber finished second in the primary election as well as in the general, and ran a solid campaign that positions him well for future races.

Highlights from this spring’s races

Gary Clauss, City Council, Silver City (NM)
First time candidate Clauss wins when opponent pulls out of race, saying she can not win. Clauss runs on a platform of openness and accountability in local government.

Craig Seeman, State Legislature, 52nd District, Brooklyn
Seeman received 15.6%, finishing third out of five, close behind the Republican’s 21%. Seeman’s district is divided into 120 ‘Election Districts’. He won 10 of them and finished second in 60-70 others. In the concentrated Republican neighborhoods, which make up 30% of the district, Seeman got 2%. In the other 70% of the district, he received 30% of the vote.

Seeman had strong support from local labor and ran on a platform of jobs/sustainable economy, universal health care, intensive recycling, campaign finance reform and public transportation.

Nancy Pearlman, Community College District Board of Trustees, Los Angeles (CA)
Pearlman, a long-time environmentalist who has hosted hundreds of tv and radio shows that are carried around the nation, was one of the primary organizers of the first Earth Day in Los Angeles in 1970. She lost by only 0.15% out of 168,000 votes and plans to run next time.

David Diehl and Aaron Willett, Ocean Beach Planning Group, San Diego (CA)
Diehl and Willet join Kip Krueger (elected 1995) to make up three Greens out of nine boardmembers. While the Planning Group is only advisory to the San Diego City Council, it is *the* recognized voice of the community on all-important development issues. The Greens’ positions on development on the Planning Group have been influential in preserving the low-scale, funky nature of Ocean Beach (OB). As Kip Krueger says, “Let’s Keep OB, OB”. The Ocean Beach Greens go back to 1988.

Chris Patrouch, City Council, West Hollywood (CA)
Chris Patrouch and local Greens ran an impressive grassroots campaign for City Council, suprising local politicos finishing fourth out of nine candidates for two seats (votes: 2400-1800-1400-1200). His campaign featured extensive door-to-door precinct walking, tabling on Santa Monica Bl., and lawn and street signs. 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, especially with three seats up. Since the election Patrouch has retained a strong profile in local politics.

Rick Van Landingham, City Council District #4, Toledo (OH)
In the first candidacy ever for Ohio Greens, Rick Van Landingham finished third out of five, winning 12% in the September 16th primary, just missing the run-off.

Van Landingham is an environmental consultant and graduate of the University of Toledo with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. At 28, he was the youngest candidate. His primary issues were stopping a proposed highway through Toledo’s Buckeye Basin (a wetlands area in the heart of Toledo’s Central City) and opposing a proposed imminent domain destruction of a single family homeowner neighborhood in order to build a new Chrysler jeep plant, when the current jeep site was being abandoned full of industrial pollution.

At one point during the campaign, a Lucas County Democratic Party poll had Van Landingham running a close second. But Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner had Van Landingham arrested twice on trumped up charges. This resulted in negative media coverage which local Greens believe cost them the primary. The second time Van Landingham was arrested (which incidentally was for being at his own
home) the police claimed there was a restraining order keeping him out when
in fact there was none. Van Landingham was notified that all criminal charges brought against him were dropped the day after the primary.

Considering that Van Landingham was also outspent by nine to one by both of the candidates finishing ahead of him, the Toledo Greens were very happy with the final result. The day after the election, 70 people gathered, 50 of them from Toledo, to talk about the importance of building the Green Party. Ralph Nader came to a pancake breakfast soon after the campaign as well.

Going into the general election, both candidates finishing ahead of Van Landingham have asked for his endorsement.

Karen Hadden, City Council Austin, TX

The first Texas Green to run for office, Karen Hadden fininished third (45%-27%-12%-10%-7%) in the first round, missing the run-off. Her primary issues were no electric rate cuts for large companies, $100 campaign contribution limits, keeping the electric utility and city health clinics public, repealing the homeless camping ban, repealing the bicycle helmet law, environmental protection for all of Austin, and light rail.

Besides the Austin Greens, Hadden was endorsed by the University of Texas Students for Earth Awareness, the mighty Save Our Springs Coalition, Citizens Organized to Defend Austin, Campus Greens, Bicycling Advocates of Texas, the League of Bicycling Voters, and Save Austin’s Neighborhoods and Environment. Her campaign included door-to-door canvass and literature drops, phone banks, and bike tagging. Many of her volunteers were local Mexican-American students as well as Earth Firsters.

Races to Watch in November

Joyce Brown, City Council, Chapel Hill, NC
The list of Greens running in November is topped by two-term incumbent Joyce Brown. Brown is the longest running Green officeholder in the US at eight years. The Orange County Greens, her local, have been in existence since 1985.

Brown’s central issue is unsustainable growth and its local effects in Chapel Hill – traffic, unsafe streets, overcrowded schools, increasing stormwater runoff and flooding problems, loss of affordable housing (with most new local developments out of the range of low and middle income people) stresses on public infrastructure and natural resources, loss of trees, and increasing taxes as it becomes evident that growth does not pay for itself.

Brown’s main achievents in her eight years include solid waste reduction,
energy efficiency and use of renewable energy in Town-owned buildings,
spearheading a county-wide regional visioning and community building
planning process, and developing indicators for sustainable development in
Chapel Hill.

Six Greens in Minneapolis
The Minneapolis Greens are building upon last year’s remarkable 24.6% by
Cam Gordon for State Legislature, with six of nine Minneapolis Green
Party-endorsed candidates making it through a September primary to the
November general election. Two candidates in this non-partisan race are
endorsed only by the Green Party: newcomer David Luce, who received 29% in a
3-way primary district race for Park Board; and Park Board candidate George
“We Can Build an Eco-City” Puzak, an incumbent, who came in third city-wide.
Three other incumbents with multi-party endorsements – Jim Niland, Annie
Young and Dean Zimmerman – are likely to be re-elected. Green Party-endorsed
Library Board candidate Deb Keefer will also be on the ballot in November.

Madelaine Hoffman, Governor, New Jersey
Hoffman was Nader’s vice-presidential candidate in New Jersey in ‘96 and a long-time activist who founded the Ironbound Committee Against Toxic Wastes to organize in immigrant and working class neighborhoods. She continued that work as Director of the New Jersey Grass Roots Environmental Organization, a position she still holds.

Hoffman’s campaign challenges Republican Governor Whitman’s record of cutting welfare and health benefits; reducing state taxes by shifting the burden to cities, weakening environmental protections; and pitting business interests against those of the citizens of the state. Hoffman offers a single payer universal health program for New Jersey in response to growing public dissatisfaction with HMO’s and insurance companies. With the Democratic candidate considered a lightweight, Hoffman hopes to establish the Greens as a real alternative.

Peter Healey, County Legislature, 7th District, Ulster County
David Menzies, County Legislature, 2nd District, Ulster County
These two races are considered among the better possibilities for a Green victory in ‘97 in New York state. Ulster County is a traditionally liberal area, particularly with communities like Woodstock, New Pautz, and others. Both Menzies and Healy are Green Party members. Menzies will be on the ballot as a Democrat and a Green. Healy will be on as a ‘Democrat-Green’ and Independence. Healy’s district size is 25,000, with nine candidates, including three incumbents, running for five seats. Menzies has a somewhat tougher time – his district is 10,000 people, with three candidates (two incumbents plus Menzies) for two seats. Menzies is trying to unseat the Republican incumbent.

Errol Louis, NY City Council (Brooklyn, 35th District)
Errol Louis is the first African-American Green candidate in New York City. The 35th District is mostly African-American, with approximately 20% Hasidic Jewish. The district of approximately 150,00 is overwhelmingly Democratic, but Louis is given a good chance to beat the Republican and finish second. Louis actually ran in the Democratic primary before coming over to the Greens, finishing second with 28% against incumbent Mary Pinkett 52% and James Davis 20%. In the general election, the candidates are Pinkett, Louis, Davis (on the Liberal Party line), Voyteki (Republican) and an Independence candidate.

If Louis does finish second, this would continue a recent pattern of second place finishes in the greater downtown Brooklyn area and arguably establish the Green Party as the second party there. In April, Craig Seeman beat the Republican for State Legislature there and in ‘96 Nader beat Dole.

The League Conservation of Voters has endorsed Louis, as has US Congressman Major Owens. Errol had been endorsed by Congressman Major Owens, Sierra Club,
League of Conservation Voters, DC 1707, Sheet Metal Workers and several
local elected officials as well as the Village Voice, Amsterdam News and the New York Times.

Abraham Guttman, City Council, Third District, Albuquerque
In 1992, Guttman received 40% in a two-way race for state legislature in the Taos area. From 1994-96 he was the NMGP’s state co-chair. In ‘96 he ran for US Senate, receiving 4.5%.

Guttman’s City Council district is predominantly hispanic and working-class, population 60,000. The election takes place October 7th. Guttman’s walked the district twice, visiting approximately 5,000 homes representing almost 10,000 likely voters.

His campaign focuses on opposing the proposed West Side Strategic Plan. The plan would run a road through the Petroglyth National Monument, (a kind of natural barrier to Albuquerque’s expansion) in order to make it possible to double the size of the city. Guttman argues that the plan would ‘create more harmful sprawl, pulling energy and jobs away from the city and creating a burden on the taxpayers.’

Guttman is successfully contrasting the public subsidies needed to build the new infrastructure, with the City’s $1.3 billion backlog in existing infrastructure improvements. Neighborhoods in Guttman’s district have traditionally felt neglected by City Hall, and many see the incumbent as another ‘insider’. Guttman has depicted the proposed expansion as ‘a gift to greedy developers at residents’ expense’. Guttman’s opponent is an appointed Democrat who supports the development plan and has raised most of her money from real estate and development interests. She refuses to debate Guttman.

Complimenting Guttman’s potential in the working class neighborhoods is the strength of the Greens in the University of New Mexico area. In ‘96, Guttman won a handful of the precincts there.

The Central Labor Council and AFCSME have both co-endorsed both Guttman and his opponent. Gay & Lesbian Alliance endorsed Guttman. The Sierra Club won’t endorse his opponent, but won’t endorse Guttman either because they refuse to endorse a Green. The Conservation Voters Alliance, which endorsed Guttman in ‘96, refused to do so now, to demonstrate their unhappiness about Carol Miller knocking out Democrat Eric Serna for Congress in April.

Rev. Stephen Vines, School Board, Toledo (OH)
Vines is running for one of three open seats. This is a race local Greens feel they can win. Rev. Vines is Associate Minister, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and comes from a long line of Toledo Public School Educators. Vines is running on a platform of inclusive school governance, community advisory boards, and keeping schools open as community centers. His educational background is in family & child Development and he is also the CEO of a conflict resolution & diversity training center. Vines is also a interracial/religious coalition builder.

Elizabeth Horton Sheff, John Mozzicato and David M. Ionno,
City Council, Hartford (CT)
Connecticut election law reserves three of Hartford’s nine council
seats for members of the non-majority party. The Greens are contesting these three seats with former mayoral candidate Elizabeth Horton Sheff; John Mozzicato, a municipal union leader; and David M. Ionno, a city library employee.

These three seats have belonged to the Republicans since 1993, when current mayor Michael Peters swept into office as an independent and forged a bipartisan coalition. In 1995, Peters ran for re-election as a Democrat, defeating Horton Sheff, keeping his bipartisan coalition on the council intact.

The Greens oppose privatization of city services and the takeover by the state of Hartford’s schools. They are backed by a coalition of 12 municipal unions, which have fought what they say is a tightfisted city council. “We believe the average working person or non-working [person] is being shut out,” said city union leader Clarke King Sr. “The city is being controlled by the corporations.

Ralph Nader has come to Connecticut to stump for Horton Sheff and other local Greens candidates, drawing big crowds in Hartford as well as Litchfield, Mansfield, New London, Hamden and Fairfield.

Russell Lovetinsky, City Council, District B, Iowa City
Lovetinsky was active in the Nader campaign and is a founding member of the Iowa City Green Party. His three main issues are: 1) expanding the Iowa City Public Library, the state’s busiest public library, in a practical, economical manner; 2) opposition to a local-option sales tax because sales taxes are regressive taxes hitting working men and women the hardest; 3) openness, responsiveness and accountability on the City Council. Lovetinsky is a strong advocate for preference voting and also favors an elected strong mayor over a city manager-style of government.

Tennis Lilly, City Council, Lawrence (MA)
Site of Green Gathering ‘97, the Lawrence Greens are presenting their first candidate. There are six candidates, including two incumbents, for three open seats. Lilly is running on shutting down a solid waste incinerator, open space acquisition, no gentrification, and affordable housing.

By Keiko Bonk, two-term County Councilmember, Island of Hawai’i

Keiko Bonk was elected in 1992 to the Hawai’i County Council, the first (and still only) US Green to be elected in a partisan race. In 1994 she was re-elected with 60% of the vote. In 1995, she became chair of the County Council, the first and only US Green to chair such a council or board.

During her four years on the Council, Bonk championed the environment, local small business, cultural diversity, parks, diversified agriculture, long term planning, citizen involvement, and eco-tourism. Always fighting for the underdog, she became a local folk hero.

In a highly controversial move, she stepped down in 1996 from her Chairship to run and finish second for Mayor of the entire island (Bonk was forced to give up her seat in order to run by a charter rule that has since been changed.)

This is why she did it, in her own words.

My decision to leave the County Council to run for mayor of Hawai’i island was a controversial one, both within the general public and among my closest supporters. Getting re-elected would have been a fairly easy task. But the unique circumstances in ‘95 that allowed me to become Chair, and to have had significant leverage, would no longer exist. In ‘95 the Council was split, four Democrats and four Republicans. This gave me the leverage to become Chair.

This would change in ‘96. Because the party in power often deprives the other Councilmembers of staff and resources, I would have been pushed back where I was during my first term, a spokesperson completely stripped of infrastructure and power.

Even so, some felt I should play it safe and run for my same seat, to insure someone of my views remained on the Council. These kind of people tend to think politics is simply about talking. It isn’t. It’s about solving problems and getting things done. Sometimes that means taking risks.

Ironically, after losing the race, very few now think it was a mistake, even though the Greens are now without representation on the County Council. Being on the inside of county government, I was (and continue to be) gripped by a sense of urgency, a feeling that comes from watching first hand, the extent of destruction and corruption in my home.

I had to run for Mayor. The Green movement may be gaining around the country, but my island is running out of time. I took a chance and did what we needed to take the Hawaii Green Party to a new level. That is what a forward-moving ‘movement’ is all about.

Myself and many of my closest supporters made great sacrifices to accelerate the rate of positive change on Hawai’i island. I knew that if the incumbent got reelected, he would pull out all the stops during his last term to reward all of his ‘associates.’

The worst has come true. The incumbent was reelected and has accelerated the destruction of our island at a terrifying pace. The only thing slowing the deal-making is a flat real-estate market, with a relative lack of outside capital driving land speculation.

But even in this market, we are running out of time in so many areas. We are the endangered species capital of the US and the endangered endemic species capital of the world. Our local culture is being destroyed, sold, or boxed up in museums.

Having said this, I still think my decision to run was the right one. We did not run a symbolic race. We ran a real race for the Mayor of Hawaii Island and almost won. I finished a close second (39%-33%-23%) despite the fact that I entered the race at the very last moment and was massively outspent by the incumbent Mayor. I spent $125,000 while she spent $550,000. This worked out to $5/vote for the Mayor and $1/vote for myself. I won 17/56 precincts and finished second in most of the others.

Because of our race, three other highly qualified women also decided to take the risk and run for council. Two of the three came within a handful of votes of winning. Julie Jacobson lost by only 152 votes in a three way race. Julie Leialoha lost by only 487 votes in a three way race. Donalynn Napua Johns also had a respectable showing.

With a fraction of the money of our opponents and almost no advance time to plan a campaign, we built an island-wide organization and support base. The Greens are now considered major political players on our island. When I decided to take the leap, only 15% of those polled said that they would definitely vote for me, while approximately 35% said they would vote for the incumbent mayor, and 15% for the Republican.

The final result showed that my campaign built the most support in the shortest time. At the rate I was gaining, I would have won if the campaign had been ten days longer. The race did what I hoped it would, put us in the game on a new level, bring in many new participants, and perhaps most importantly, bring in new kinds of supporters.

If we had not done as well as we did it, the decision would have been a mistake. But coming so close to something no Green has yet done, the decision is now widely seen as the beginning of something much bigger. Whether this actually happens will be determined by what do next.

Many people believe we will win at least one councilmember in 1998 and the mayor’s seat in 2000. If we do, it will go down as a major step in making the Green Party a real political player in the US. If we fail, the decision will be a mistake. The responsibility to prove us right is now the responsibility of many. I’ve committed to helping others in the next campaign, and if the financial and volunteer support continues for me, I will run again in 2000.

For myself, my finance and my family, being out of office has been a blessing. The sacrifices have been hard on all of us. We are using this time to recuperate and rebuild. It’s also exciting because a whole new generation of Greens are stepping up to the plate and acting like real political players. Times are as scary as ever, but not as lonely on the front lines as it used to be. Pray for us, as we will pray for you.

Arkansas (1)
Stephan Miller, City Council, Fayetteville

Arizona (2)
Alva d’Orgeix, City Council, Bisbee
Norm Wallen, City Council, Flagstaff

California (22)
Alan Drusys, City Council, Yucaipa (San Bernadino County)
Mike Feinstein, City Council, Santa Monica (Los Angeles County)
Jenifer Hanan, City Council, Arcata (Humboldt County)
Jason Kirkpatrick, City Council, Arcata (Humboldt County)
Bruce Mast, City Council, Albany (Alameda County)
Bob Ornelas, City Council, Arcata (Humboldt County)
Julie Partansky, City Council, Davis (Yolo County)
Steven Schmidt, City Council, Menlo Park (San Mateo County)
Dona Spring, City Council, Berkeley (Alameda County)
Barbara Carr, La Mesa/Spring Valley School District Board (San Diego County)
Carol Skiljan, Encinitas, Encinitas School Board (San Diego County)
Cynthia Strecker, Monte Rio Union School District Board of Trustees (Sonoma County )
Scott Bugenthal, Lompico Water Board (Santa Cruz County)
Lois Humpheys, Leucadia, Leucadia Water Board (San Diego County)
David Tarr, Ramona, Ramona Water Board (San Diego County)
Glenn Bailey, Malibu/Las Virgenes Resource Conservation District (Los Angeles County)
Todd Cooper, Evergreen Resource Conserv. District (Santa Clara County)
William Bretz, Crest/Dehesa/Harrison Canyon/Granite Hills Planning Group (San Diego County)
David Diehl, Ocean Beach Planning Group (San Diego County)
Kip Krueger, Ocean Beach Planning Group (San Diego County)
Aaron Willet, Ocean Beach Planning Group (San Diego County)
Timothy Moore, Ramona, Ramona Planning Group (San Diego County)

Colorado (2)
Krista Paradise, City Council, Carbondale
Jim Breasted, City Council, Carbondale

Iowa (1)
Karren Kubby, City Council, Iowa City

Maine (3)
Harold Hansen, School Board, Biddeford
George Lehigh, Town Council, Eastport
Karen Mayo, Selectperson, Bowdoinham

Minnesota (2)
Debra Orton, City Council, Hermantown
David Abaza, Crystal Bay Township Supervisor, Finland

Missouri (1)
Terry Williams, Mayor, Webster Grove

New Mexico (3)
Cris Moore, Council, Santa Fe City
Fran Gallegos, Municipal Judge, Santa Fe
Gary Claus, City Council, Silver City

North Carolina (2)
Joyce Brown, City Council, Chapel Hill (Orange County)
Alex Zaffron, Board of Alderman, Carrboro (Orange County)

Wisconsin (4)
Bill Anderson, Board of Supervisors, Douglas County
David Conley, Board of Supervisors, Douglas County
Bob Browne, Board of Supervisors, Douglas County
Linda Bruce, City Council, Superior

New Mexico’s Greens play for keeps
by Rick Lass, Tammy Davis, and Cris Moore

On May 13th, New Mexico Green Carol Miller received 17% in a special election for the US House of Representatives. This was a record for a US Green in a federal race (surpassing Hawai’i Green Party US Senate candidate Linda Martin’s 14% in 1992) and contributed to favored Democrat Eric Serna (40%) losing the election to conservative Republican Bill Redmond (42%).

According to Tammy Davis, co-chair of the New Mexico Green Party (NMGP), “by determining the outcome of the race in this manner, our campaign served notice that the Greens are an independent force that will not go away and cannot be ignored. We are more than a swing vote – we have an increasing impact at all levels of government because of the strength of our vote. We are ignored only at the peril of the old parties.”

A 30-year community health care advocate who began her activism in the 60’s as a paid organizer for the Berkeley (CA) Tenant’s Union, Miller has long been involved in rural health care in Northern New Mexico. She represented the Frontier Constituency Group on the Board of the National Rural Health Association, is immediate Past President of the New Mexico Public Health Association, and is a three term Governing Councilor to the American Public Health Association. On the federal level, Miller has had experience with legislation (and the bureaucracy) in Washington, D.C., including service as a single-payer advocate on the 1993 Presidential Health Care Reform Task Force.

This record of commitment and service gave the Miller campaign enormous credibility. Combined with the strength of the New Mexico Green Party, (one of the best organized and most successful Green parties in the country) and pointing out the weakness of both the Democrat and Republican, Miller ran one of the strongest races a US Green has yet run, arguably the strongest above the county level thus far.

Miller actually came in second in Taos and Santa Fe counties, ahead of Redmond and close to Serna, in what are traditionally highly-Democratic districts. Both Democrats and Republicans spent large amount of money on absentee votes. Subtract those and Miller won Santa Fe County outright. In the City of Santa Fe, Miller won most of the precincts in two of four city council districts, receiving over 50% in most of them. Among those were many traditional, Hispanic Democratic neighborhoods.

In Taos Miller won nine precincts outright. She also won in Corrales, considered by many to be a conservative town. Across the district, Miller carried twenty-two precincts – including the Taos and Tesuque Indian Pueblos – and ran second in an additional fifty-five. Miller also did better in Santa Fe County overall than 1994 Green gubernatorial candidate Roberto Mondragon (34% compared to 21%).

The Democrats’ post-election reaction was significant and included new talk of cooperation with the Greens, including offers being floated by Democratic leadership of changes in the NM election law to allow Democrat/Green fusion candidates. (Fusion is a law, widespread 100 years ago, where a candidate can be endorsed by two parties, and can collect votes on the ballot lines of both). This offering was remarkable given that only recently in January, the New Mexico Democratic Party blocked an effort by the Greens, Libertarians, and Reform Party to make fusion legal.

Back in 1994, the NMGP had attempted to place Representative Max Coll, perhaps the second most powerful member of the NM House of Representatives, as Chair of the Legislative Finance Committee on the ballot as a Democrat/Green. This was stopped by Democratic Party leadership who pressured Coll to withdraw his Green nomination. The NMGP had been working with a team of attorneys to take this to the Supreme Court, but when Coll withdrew, the attorneys were forced to take another test case from Minnesota to the Court, recently losing their fusion challenge.

But Miller and most New Mexico Greens have rejected fusion in favor of proportional representation. Fusion became seen as a way of coopting the Greens by taking their candidates out of the race. “It could turn us into junior Democrats. We have a lot more potential than that,” said Miller. Electoral reforms like proportional representation (including preference voting and instant run-off) are seen by the Greens as giving them a chance to assume their rightful place at the table, “something”, according to Davis, “Miller’s remarkable 17% (in a winner-take-all system) suggests we deserve”. In mid-October, the Greens are hosting a forum on proportional representation with 1980 independent presidential candidate John Anderson and Steve Hill, a San Francisco Green and West Coast Director of the Center for Voting and Democracy.

According to many New Mexico Greens, Miller’s race served to prove that voting Green is a powerful strategy for political change. Not only did it identify the Greens as a clear alternative, but it puts enormous pressure on the Democrats to support proportional representation, lest the Greens knock them out again.

As Santa Fe Green Party City Councilor Cris Moore said in the August edition of The Progressive, “building a progressive third-party movement right now is a lot more important than sending one more Democrat to Congress. Even people who want to move the Democratic Party to the left ought to recognize that it’s just not going to happen inside their party. It’s like Frederick Douglas said: ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand.’ No one is going to change the system until Democrats lose some elections because they’ve moved too far to the right. That’s the lesson from here: Until they lost a race that they actually cared about, they didn’t pay attention.”

The decision to run – how the Miller campaign came about
Almost immediately after the November election (in which incumbent Bill
Richardson beat Redmond 67%-30%), rumors began spreading that Richardson would be vacating his seat to become Ambassador to the UN. As early as December, Greens were discussing the Special Election to come.

The NMGP had a decent, but not exceptional November ’96 election. It maintained major party status (running Peggy Helgeson against Serna for State Corporation Commissioner, receiving 11%). But the party’s efforts at a coordinated statewide campaign were only limitedly successful, particularly after a contested primary left considerable internal division in the party. Energy was low and splintered as a result.

At the same time discussion of the special election was taking place, the 60-day legislative session was about to begin. With a strong local in the capital city of Santa Fe, the NMGP prepared an aggressive legislative agenda. This was basically ignored by the ’97 NM Legislature which, according to NMGP state co-chair Rick Lass, was preoccupied by Indian gaming compacts and prison privatization.

Most of Green lobbying went into the fusion bill, which was not even introduced, despite Green calls for consideration and debate. This negative experience was echoed by the legislature’s lack of action on other Green priorities, from failure years before to pass a returnable bottle law to the current lack of support for meaningful Property Tax relief for low-income families. Cumulatively, this became a part of the legislature’s ‘report card’, which was put on the table at the NMGP state convention, and led in part to the NMGP’s decision to run Miller.

When the Governor made the call for the special election, the Greens called their own state nomination convention (including new elections of delegates at the county level). This contrasted greatly with the Democrats and Republicans, who chose their candidates at closed door sessions of central committee meetings.

The Green convention came after the Democrats and Republican had made their nominations. The extra time turned out to be fateful. At first, it was not clear the party would nominate Miller. The Bernalillo County (Albuquerque area) Green local had invited the Democratic and Republican nominees to speak at their county convention. In Santa Fe, several Greens advocated ‘None of the Above’, arguing the energy required to run a candidate in the entire northern third of NM would be better spent on internal organizing and local projects. They also warned of the marginalizing effect on the party of getting only 3-5%, which people were worried about because of the NMGP’s poor showing in the just-concluded US Senate race. Since Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties would comprise 70% of the state convention, not running a candidate was certainly a possibility.

But once the Democrats and Republicans chose their candidates, it was clear neither represented a positive choice. Redmond was extremely conservative and would be touting his NRA endorsement. Serna had a past riddled with charges of corruption, from misuse of his office to taking contributions from corporations he was supposed to regulate. When he was nominated nevertheless by a closed convention, many progressive Democrats who felt ‘locked out’ began looking for another candidate.

Miller in comparison, would be endorsed as the best candidate by both of Albuquerque major dailies. She offered the party a chance to expand by tapping into Miller’s existing circle of contacts and health service networks. In so doing, she committed to run a strictly Green platform-based campaign, and to focus on party building as a central core of her strategy. After a couple of hours of discussion, the vote was Miller 55, None of the Above 7, and Richard Haley 1.

The Campaign
Within days after the convention, most key positions in Carol’s campaign
staff had been filled. A local printing press had offered to print 30,000 trifold, tricolor brochures at no cost, with additional copies very inexpensive. All but one of the ‘None of the Above’ supporters came on board, hard at work, suggesting the party’s internal process was healthy (Roberto Mondragon returned to the Democrats).

Between the nomination convention and the election, the campaign was only eight weeks long. While seeing their opposition first gave the Greens an edge, it also gave the opposition several weeks headstart to campaign.

One of Miller’s first events was a call for a voluntary spending cap of $100,000. Not surprisingly, neither other major party candidate agreed. In the end, Miller spent $35,000, Redmond $500,000, and Serna close to a million. Much of the Republican and Democratic money came from national PACs. The national party organizations put a lot into this race as little else was happening around the country at the time.

The Greens publicized a New Mexico state legislature resolution calling for an end to negative campaigning. This was ignored by Serna and Redmond. Miller stayed on message throughout the campaign. Along with campaign finance reform, she focused on universal health care, eliminating corporate welfare, and promoting education and womens’ rights.

On the controversial questions around sustainable use of public lands, Miller pledged protection plans developed in consultation with local communities. She opposes old growth logging, but at the same time believes there is a responsibility to help local villages find a way to be economically and ecologically sustainable. Miller also supported a weatherization program to reduce the need for firewood and a Claims Commission to deal with Land Grant issues.

The campaign moved quickly, with Miller and her constant companion Sheila Sullivan traveling around the district. The Rio Grande Valley is the area of strongest Green concentration, but Miller also got a strong reception in the more remote areas where the party was not yet organized. She did radio and newspaper spots in most of the small towns and had great public support in many of them.

In Santa Fe and Taos, house parties were held to raise money and enlist
volunteers. The numbers of new faces grew rapidly, as was the crossover support from Democrats and Republicans. At the same time, there was a strong base from the successful prior campaigns electing Cris Moore and Fran Gallegos.

Soon after the Green convention, six members of Democratic Party central committees from Los Alamos and Santa Fe endorsed Miller. The Democrats forced most of them to resign, except Marilyn Rohn of Los Alamos, who boasted that if forced to resign she would take half the Central Committee members with her. In Taos, a group called ‘Republicans and Democrats for Carol Miller’ campaigned actively.

The campaign used traditional outreach methods – distributing literature door to door, phone calls, radio ads and even a couple of TV spots. As Miller was severely outspent by the other major party candidates, she was probably less visible in the mass media by 20 to 1.

The last week of the campaign, the Greens put a large “Carol Miller” signs operation at major intersections. This got the word out and energized everyone who helped with last minute phone calls and literature drops.

Miller is the first US Green candidate in the country to be endorsed by both major dailies of a major city (Albuquerque). She was also endorsed by the Santa Fe Reporter and the Taos News, which wrote “how can anyone vote, not for what he or she really believes in, but rather for what he or she thinks is going to happen, anyway? It makes a mockery of the entire political process…A vote for Miller is not a wasted vote. It’s a vote for all of the things that matter to northern New Mexicans. It’s a vote for changes towards universal health care. It’s a vote for the environment. It’s a vote for people, not politicians; for change, not the status quo. A vote for Miller is a vote for your conscience and your convictions.”

Miller was also endorsed by Ralph Nader, who campaigned in New Mexico for her; Sierra Club president David Brower, Arthur Silvers, president of the Santa Fe NAACP, as well as several prominent gay and lesbian activists. The Picuris Pueblo endorsed Miller, the NMGP’s first endorsement from a Pueblo or tribe. In her visit to the Navajo Nation, Miller met people who have offered to translate the NM Green Platform into Navajo!

On the other hand, several organizations endorsed Serna over Miller based upon ‘winnability’. They included the Sierra Club, Conservation Voters Alliance, and AFSCME.

The Future
After only moderately successful statewide campaigns (by NMGP standards) in ‘96, Miller’s strong showing vitalized the party statewide. It also provided great strategic information, demonstrated by precinct returns, showing where the party is strongest. According to Cris Moore “this may influence where future candidacies will come. In fact, several state legislative and County Commission seats in Santa Fe and Taos County are now very winnable targets for us.”

The positive results and contacts of the campaign also inspired the party to do intensive outreach into new communities. The newly reformed Organizing Committee is leading road trips out of the Rio Grande Valley, holding local organizing meetings and organizer training workshops. Turnout has been good thus far. So far 40 Greens have attended workshops on organizing skills like ‘Choosing an Issue’, ‘Talking About the Greens’, and ‘Meeting Facilitation’.

As to whether Miller will/should run again, right now Miller is saying ‘yes’. With a longer lead time (compared to the eight weeks of the special election), Miller feels she can double her 17% and be competitive in a three-way election. She plans to outreach to those who don’t register (or vote) because they don’t believe their vote matters, independents (approximately 30% of registered voters) and the many ‘pragmatic’ voters who need stronger indications that their vote won’t be wasted before stepping outside the two-party system.

There are many NMGP members who support a Miller candidacy in ‘98. Others prefer to know who the Democrat will be before deciding whether to contest the race. But unlike with the special election, in ‘98 all parties will choose their candidates the same day of the primary election. The Greens will not be able to wait to see if a progressive Democrat will win the nomination. Indeed, they must file for the race a couple of months beforehand.

One thing is sure, the threat of a Miller candidacy will loom large going into New Mexico’s ‘98 elections. How will the Democrats respond? What will Miller and the NMGP decide to do? The final result will be interesting. “But perhaps even more significant” muses co-chair Lass, “is that after only a few short years, the Greens are actually in a position where these kind of alternatives are real ones. The New Mexico Green Party and its candidates are ‘for real’.”

Maine Greens fight to retain ballot status
by Nancy Allen, co-chair, Maine Green Party

The Maine Green Party (MEGP) was founded in 1984. In 1992, their first Congressional candidate, Jonathan Carter, received 10% in a district covering half the state. In 1994, Carter received 6.5% for Governor, topping the 5% in a statewide race the Greens needed to achieve ballot status.

At that time, the MEGP assumed that according to their reading of the law, this would qualify them for the next four years, until the next statewide election (this is the case in several other states, including California).

The Secretary of State’s office however, let it be known that their office would interpret the law to require a party to achieve 5% every two years to remain on the ballot – in both the gubernatorial and presidential elections – not just every four years at the state elections.

The Greens originally appealed this decision in federal court. The federal judge sent the case to the State Supreme Court to find out what exactly the Maine law is. At the same time, the Greens and the Secretary of State’s office pursued legislation on the state level that would change the requirement to 5% every four years. Both times, the legislature turned it down.

In August ‘97 the Maine Supreme Court ruled unanimously in support of the Secretary of State’s ruling (a ‘bad interpretation according to Richard Winger, Ballot Access News). Because MEGP presidential candidate Ralph Nader received only 2.5% in ‘96, the court ruled the Greens would have to go off the ballot.

But Nancy Allen, co-chairwoman of the Green Party, said the decision does not disqualify the party, because there is an injunction prohibiting it until the case is fully resolved. According to Allen, the MEGP’s suit included a clause stating after the state defined the application of the law, the federal court would rule on its constitutionality. First is the question of the state of Maine’s violation of the MEPG’s 1st and 14th amendment rights to form and sustain a political party. Second is the state of Maine’s requirement that a newly-forming state party must run a national candidate for president without the existence of a national party. In this respect, Allen said the current law is unfair to emerging parties that can do well within the state, but not yet nationally.

This case is potentially historic, because there has never been a federal court decision striking down any state’s definition of ‘ongoing party’. According to Winger the case very easily could win. In 1992 the US Supreme Court said (in Norman v. Reed) that the states are required to have election laws which permit new parties to grow and develop. “If there’s any law which violates this,” according to Winger, “it’s Maine’s law, since Maine makes a new party wait 16 months after it polls 5%, before the state will consider it recognized! Then only 8 months later, it must poll 5% again. It’s outrageous.”

The MEGP’s long-time attorney recently got a new full-time job and although he wanted to continue working on the case, his new employer forbade him from doing so. The party is on the verge of hiring a new attorney, Gary Sinawski, who has litigated more constitutional ballot access cases than any other attorney in the nation.

An interesting backdrop to this issues of legitimacy is what the public seems to indicate through the voluntary state income tax political party donation checkoff. In 1997, the MEGP received more money state tax donation money ($8,306.84) than the Republicans ($6,446.08) and almost as much as the Democrats ($10,468.14).

Pennsylvania Greens help prevent weakening of state ballot access
by Tom Linzey, Shippenburg (PA), legal advisory, ASGP

A hearty thanks to all the national greens that assisted us here in Pennsylvania with the defeat of Senate Bill 200, a bill which would have doubled or tripled ballot access requirements for third parties and independent candidates. If this bill had been in place in 1996, circulators for the presidential campaign would have been forced to gather 99,000 signatures for ballot access. Responding to grassroots pressure, Governor Thomas Ridge vetoed the Bill and sent a veto message to the Pennsylvania legislature.

Lobbying heavily against the bill was Richard Winger of Ballot Access News and
Ralph Nader, who sent an especially strong letter to Governor Ridge, urging him to veto the bill. Winger was instrumental in getting an article in the New York Times that blasted the two party hold on Pennsylvania politics.

The Greens have drafted a Ballot Access Bill which reduces signature
requirements in this state, and have presented it to several legislators
for sponsorship. Known as the Voters’ Choice Act, it would reduce the signature requirement to one-tenth of 1 percent. If the legislation had been in place last year, the signature requirement would have plunged from 40,000 to 4,200. (Republicans and Democrats are required to net only 2,000 signatures to get on their respective primary ballots.) The bill likewise would slasd the signature requirement for local contests and ease restrictions for third-parties to become recognized by the state.