By Claudia Ellquist, Arizona Green Party; Hillary Aisenstein, Pennslyvania Green Party; and Ann Link, Green Party of New York State

This summer, more than 600 Greens represented 38 states at the Green Party’s National Nominating Convention in Chicago. After traveling by public transportation, bikes, and carpools, delegations made the most of this political weekend, attending workshops, sharing ideas and experiences, meeting candidates, and casting their state’s votes especially for the presidential nominee. Unlike the predictable, tax-payer subsidized spectacles produced for the Republicans and Democrats, Greens paid for their own convention and got their money’s worth.

This year’s convention also produced the best media coverage the Green Party has ever had. Some of the national stations and programs were ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, NPR, and Democracy Now. Pacifica aired the convention live including interviews with convention organizers and C-Span featured speeches by Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and Atlanta-Journal Constitution all had articles about the event and Chicago Public Radio also aired many segments about the convention.

The Green Party presidential nomination, on Saturday, July 12, confirmed former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Hip Hop activist Rosa Clemente as the Green Party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates, in one round of voting. McKinney and Clemente gave rousing speeches outlining their plans for a dynamic campaign and a new course for the United States.

McKinney’s candidacy marked the 160th anniversary of the Equal Rights Party nomination of the first female American presidential candidate, Victoria Woodhull.  She is the 45th female to seek the presidency of the United States, and the McKinney/ Clemente ticket is historic in naming two women to lead the nation.

McKinney said, “We make history today only because we must. In 2008, after two stolen presidential elections, eight years of George W. Bush, and at least two years of Democratic Party complicity, the racket is about war crimes, torture, crimes against the peace; the racket is about crimes against the Constitution, crimes against the American people, and crimes against the global community. … The Green Party is no longer ‘the alternative party,’ we are now the Imperative Party.” (Excerpts from McKinney’s speech are on page 8) For more about their campaign, go to www.runcynthiarun.org.

Additionally, there were several press conferences featuring the candidates for nomination, congressional candidates, and state and local candidates from around the country. The one drawing the most media attention featured Rich Whitney, who got over ten percent of the vote in his 2006 race for governor of Illinois. Whitney also hosted the presidential candidate forum the eve of the convention.

Earlier that day, Pennsylvania’s Cecilia Wheeler distinguished herself as the spokesperson of the newly forming Latino caucus, arguing forcefully to vote down the proposed 2008 platform over wording related to Guest Worker programs. In a show of solidarity, delegates preferred to stand with the existing platform from the previous convention.

Various committees gave reports to the National Committee on the Green Party’s many accomplishments. Three new members of the national Steering Committee were elected: Sanda Everette of California, Craig Thorsen of California, and Jill Bussiere of Wisconsin.

Video from the forum and the convention has been posted on numerous websites including youtube. Link to www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxbDwXeOeA4.

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Candidates from across the country present at the convention

By Dave McCorquodale, Green Party of Delaware

Omar Lopez, IL, candidate for the 4th Congressional District:
Lopez was one of the co-conveners of the March 10th Movement in Chicago in 2006. The movement provided the impetus for nationwide demonstrations in support of legalization of all immigrants. “I am very proud of being a Green and I am going to make the Hispanic community aware of the Green Party. One of the objectives is to serve as a role model for others to become Green, instead of Democrat. The Green Party is the only party that has the moral authority to lead.” Lopez will focus on the following issues: the economy, especially the creation of Green jobs; single payer health-care; education, including the elimination of No Child Left Behind; comprehensive immigration reform; labor issues; and ending the war in Iraq.
OmarLopez2008.org

Jason Wallace, IL, candidate for the 11th Congressional District:
Wallace joined the Air National Guard and served 17 months in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning home he joined Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and testified at the Winter Soldier hearings. He started a local committee opposed to the Patriot Act and joined the Green Party in 2006. He is capping his spending at $10,000 and will donate any extra funds to local school districts. When asked how his time in the military shaped his experiences, Wallace said that the three core values of the Air Force— Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in all that You do—were not exemplified in the U.S. involvement in Iraq. He plans to focus on the following issues: Renewable energy sources; public transportation; better care and support for veterans; restoring civil liberties; increased funding for public education; and single-payer health care.
Newmenu.org/ElectWallace

Scott Summers, IL, candidate for 16th Congressional District:
Summer is an attorney who serves on the board of trustees of McHenry Community College. Summers emphasizes the three ‘P’s: Prosperity—micro-capitalism and green collar jobs, restructuring energy production, and realizing that that economy and ecology are bound up in one; Progress—including medicare-for-all, fair trade, restoring civil liberties, and safeguarding social security; and Peace—including recommitting the country to being a good neighbor, withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, pursuing disarmament, and emphasizing peacemaking.
SummersforCongress.com

Steve Alesch, IL, candidate for 13th Congressional district:
Alesch is a software engineer, who has been involved in poll watching, including central vote tabulation in DuPage County. In 2006 he authored a report on widespread voting irregularities. When elected he plans to introduce legislation to require the United States to stop using computers and, instead, use paper ballots and hand-counts to tally votes. Alesch is running for office because he believes people must wrest control of government from corporate and big money interests. He cites the facts that both major parties have encouraged the decline of labor unions, encouraged the growth of massive debt, approved the invasion of Iraq and appear ready to do the same with Iran.
VoteSteve.org

Steve Fournier, CN, candidates for 1st Congressional district:
Fournier, a Vietnam era veteran of the military, is a practicing attorney and writer. Among Fournier’s legislative priorities are: forcing a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq by withholding funding; universal Medicare; uncovering malfeasance in the executive branch and the military, including responsibility for the events on Sept. 11, 2001; applying lessons from the New Orleans flood and compensating the victims; restoring human rights; rehabilitating our public resources; and reforming policies relating to transportation, power generation, and manufacturing, the major sources of polluting emissions.
FournierforCongress.org

Rita Maniotis, IL, candidate for 21st state representative district:

Maniotis is a high school teacher and former radio producer, who currently does a monthly show for Chicago Indymedia. As a teacher, she would like to focus on ways to make funding of education “sustainable and equitable” because every year the legislature “puts a Band-Aid on the problem”. The skyrocketing costs of special education, caused mostly by increasing rates of autism, lead her to question the role that vaccines might have in this problem. Maniotis would also emphasize mass transit, state-funded universal health care and the phasing out of nuclear power plants.

Rob Sherman, IL, candidate for 53rd state representative district:
Sherman is a businessman and an avowed atheist, who has waged successful court battles to stop prayer in public schools and the giving of public moneys to religious organizations. Sherman does not ask for campaign contributions although is willing to accept them. He says this shows he could lead the operation of state government with less money, thereby lowering taxes. Sherman’s platform contains many specific practices that he would hope to pass as a legislator that would lower taxes for the average person and eliminate breaks for large corporations and legislative “gifting”, the doling out of discretionary moneys, as well as innovative transportation ideas and banning marriage discrimination against gay families.
RobSherman.com/staterep/home

Fareen Hakeem, MN, candidate for 61B state representative district:
Hakeem is a foster parent, an educator and the Lead Community Coordinator for the Muslim Girls Initiative for the Girl Scout Council of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys. She ran on 2005 for mayor of Minneapolis, receiving 14 percent of the vote, and in 2006 for County Commissioner, receiving 33 percent of the vote. Her rising political prospects prompted local Democrats to ask her to run for under their party, but she is committed to the Green Party and believes she is favored to win. The issues upon which she is focusing include: transparent and accessible leadership in government; improving education; universal health-care; homelessness; improved transportation; environmental and energy justice; and human rights reform.
FarheenHakeem.org

Alan Hancock, MN, candidate for 46B state representative district:
Hancock, who has been active in GPMN for a number of years, is currently a county commissioner of Pine County. His experience has taught him that people want single-payer health-care, but legislatures are avoiding dealing with the issue. He has found that people appreciate direct contact from candidates, having received the comment, “You’re the first politician that’s come by.”
newmenu.org/ AlanHancock

Joel Futrelle, IL, candidate for District 8, Champaign County Board:
Futrelle is a scientist, who advocates that global warming requires taking urgent action to reduce CO2 emissions by curbing energy consumption and seeking renewable sources of energy. As a member of the county board, Futrelle would focus on sustainable development, sound stewardship of our natural resources, social justice in our courthouse, and a commitment to public health.
Joe Futrelle.org

Jack Lindblad, CA, candidate for 39th district of State Assembly:
Lindblad is an architect who believes politics, as well as everyday life, needs to be informed by the Ten Key Values. Using the slogan, “Nature for people, not for Business”, Lindblad says, “Without these ethical and moral imperatives at play, the existing political landscape remains dominated by the greed, corporatist, militarist and fraud-based nature of the duopoly party of Democrats and Republicans.”
LindbladforAssembly. blogspot.com

Walter Pituc, Il, candidate for district 7, county Board, Champaign County:
Walter is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying history and secondary education. He is running as a Green because “representatives are supposed to serve in the interests of their constituents not Big Business.” As a board member Walter would focus on local environmental sustainability, citizen empowerment and transparency, and fiscal responsibility.
VoteWalter.org

Malik Rahim, LA, candidate for 2nd U.S. Congressional District:
Malik is a long-time activist in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1970 when he joined the Black Panthers through to founding the Common Ground Collective to aide poor people in the wake of the Katrina hurricane in 2005. Common Ground has raised over three million dollars and given aid to 18,000 people. Rahim is running on a platform of concrete alternatives to the wars being waged against communities at home and to the wars continuing abroad, safe, affordable housing, universal healthcare, a comprehensive storm protection system and wetland restoration, repeal of the Patriot Act, legislation to remove FEMA from the Department of Homeland Security, an end to the costly and senseless incarceration of nonviolent offenders, and full funding for schools.

Lavender Greens also running for office:

Mark Sanchez, CA, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, District 9, is currently President of the SF Board of Education first elected to the Board as a Green in 2000.  He has been a public school teacher since 1992 and a member of the Lavender Green Caucus since 2003. Sanchez has led the effort to eliminate JROTC from the schools, played a central role in building a progressive majority on the School Board, and was a leader in the successful ballot effort for Proposition A (parcel tax) to increase compensation for teachers. He is currently actively supporting the SF Clean Energy ballot initiative, which would make SF 100 percent clean energy by 2040.
marksanchez.org

Bob Nanninga, CA, Encinitas City Council,
“I believe Encinitas needs to restore the balance between ecology and economy, smart growth and wise restraint. I also believe city government should be open, honest and future focused. A vibrant business climate will help maintain a local healthy economy and environmental sustainability, while providing municipal services and public amenities at the highest standard. As a resident of Encinitas, and a candidate for Encinitas City Council, I know the importance of preserving the quality of life shared by everyone lucky enough to call Encinitas home.”
nanningaforencinitas.org

Tina Smith, ME, Portland City Council, priorities in her campaign are: “Local Economies—continue to do all we can to get our food and products locally, and look within our city’s very vibrant and talented artist community to give a boost to our creative economy; Invest in transit —Commuter City!!! As a bike and pedestrian commuter, I see an urgent need to make commuting more pleasant, safe and reliable.”
tnsmith09@gmail.com

Midge Potts, MO, Representative 7th Congressional District, is a folk musician and anti-war activist who is known for her creative protesting with various peace groups including Peace Network of the Ozarks, CODEPINK, DC Anti-War Network, and Mobilization for Global Justice. She is a transgender woman and proud daddy of an 8-year-old daughter. Midge is a public speaker that lectures at colleges with a presentation called Transcending Traditional Politics. In 2006, she ran for U.S. Congress against then House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, and is currently the state co-chair of the Progressive Party of Missouri as well as a delegate to the GPUS National Coordinating Committee.
midgepotts.com

Profiles on the seven campaigns across the country

By Teresa Keane, Green Party Senatorial Campaign Committee

Rebekah Kennedy, Arkansas:
Kennedy is a lawyer who has proudly worked in the areas of civil rights and on behalf of victims of workplace discrimination.  She previously ran for the office of Arkansas Attorney General and received 4.67 percent of the vote. She is motivated by the fact that not one Democrat or Republican was willing to run against an incumbent in federal races. Kennedy is challenging Mark Pryor, motivated to run due to Pryor’s many votes in opposition to the people of Arkansas. She currently serves as Elections Co-chair for the Green Party of Arkansas, a position she also held from 2002-07. From 2007-08 Kennedy served as Public Relations Co-chair. Her reasons for running include challenging Pryor’s votes to continue support for the occupation of Iraq and the Military Commissions Act. Kennedy calls for the U.S. to take the lead in stopping global warming and to create a national healthcare system.
kennedy2008.org

Bob Kinsey, CO:
Kinsey is a retired United Church of Christ minister, history teacher, and a veteran of the Marine Corps.  His son-in-law is currently serving in Iraq. Kinsey sums up his campaign with the phrase “Respect Life!” This means government must set policies to insure life into the future. The current economic system, run by uncontrolled growth, “is the ideology of a cancer cell”.  “We have to redirect our economics to avoid the tipping point” of environmental catastrophe. He supports building sustainable infrastructure, tax incentives for wind power, organic agriculture, safe ranching practices, and mass transit. Kinsey connects his support of the Ten key Principles to his values as a minister: “The Green Party values are a good secular representation of what Jesus called ‘the Kingdom of God’.”
kinseyforsenate.org

Steve Larrick, NE:
Larrick is running against Ben Nelson, considered the most conservative Democrat in the Senate. On his website, Larrick discusses his policies for ending the occupation of Iraq, providing healthcare to all Americans, solving America’s economic problems, reducing dependence on foreign oil and protecting civil liberties.
nebraskagreens.org/elections.html

Kathy Cummings, IL:
Cummings is running against Richard Durbin because “in 2002 he knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. He kept that information from the public. He allowed Bush to fool the American people into starting an unjustified war. You can see Durbin confess to this on YouTube. See his ‘Bombshell announcement’ on my website.  He kept quiet for five years because he claims he was sworn to secrecy by the Senate Intelligence Committee! By doing so, he showed his loyalty was with a dishonest regime and not with the People.” Cummings is a Peace candidate who supports the oath of office to uphold the constitution, provide healthcare to all people and create an ecologically sustainable country.
KathyCummings4Senate.com

Harley Mikkelson, MI:
Mikkelson is a Vietnam veteran, a union member and an active Green Party member since 2002. He ran for Congress in 2002 opposed to starting a war in Iraq.  In 2004 he ran calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He has been in the Peace Movement since becoming active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1968. His campaign focus is to bring U.S. troops home immediately. In addition, Mikkelson would campaign for Fair Trade, in order to bring back jobs to the United States, and would stress the need to provide more educational opportunities and health benefits for everyone.
HarleyMickelson.com

Chris Lugo, TN:
Lugo is running against Republican Lamar Alexander. For the past five years he has worked as a peace activist with statewide coalitions to end the war in Iraq. This activism will be helpful in getting out the anti-war message, which is at the core of his campaign. Having worked for the past ten years with a range of progressive coalitions in Nashville, Tennessee and across the country has given Lugo a sense of what issues are important at the Federal level. Lugo entered the U.S. Senate race “to be a voice for the progressive issues that need to be discussed in Tennessee— ending the war, bringing health care to every citizen, abolishing our nuclear weapons stockpile, addressing issues of racial justice in the South, media democracy, election reform, international peace, and publicly funded campaigns.”
Chris4Senate.org

Keith Ware is running in the District of Columbia.

Please support the campaigns of all our candidates with your generous contributions.

Showing how it’s done at the 2008 Nominating Convention and Annual Meeting

By Ruth Weill, Annual National Meeting Committee Coordinator

The convention and annual meeting promise to be a great time being held in the exciting downtown theater district of Chicago, Illinois from July 10-13. In addition to Green Party presidential nominations, there are many inspiring activities and it is also a great opportunity for Greens to come together to share ideas and plans.

A main part of the convention will be the nomination on Saturday of one of these fine presidential candidates:  Jessie Johnson (jessie08.org), Cynthia McKinney (www.runcynthiarun.org), Kent Mesplay (www.mesplay.org) and Kat Swift (www.voteswift.org). 

But the weekend has much more to offer with amazing speakers such as Malik Rahim, former Black Panther and Green Party candidate who has been a long-time community activist on various social justice issues. Rahim also co-founded Common Ground Relief (commongroundrelief.org), an organization that provides short-term relief to victims of hurricane disasters in the Gulf region. Also speaking at the convention is our own Steering Committee member Cliff Thornton Jr., an activist who has won awards for his efforts on drug policy reform (www.efficacy-online.org). 

Another speaker is Kathy Kelly, a familiar name to many Greens. In 1996 Kelly co-founded Voices in the Wilderness, an organization trying to end sanctions on Iraq. Having visited Iraq and much of the Middle East many times, she has transformed the organization into Voices for Creative Non-Violence (www.vcnv.org). 

Attendees at the convention will have many opportunities for learning, as the workshop selection will be top notch, with expert activists from across the country discussing an array of issues. Workshop topics will include foreign policy related to the Middle East and Iran, immigrant and LGBTQ rights, and campaigning on a shoestring budget.  

Don’t forget Green nightlife.  A wonderful international reception is planned for Thursday evening to welcome fellow Greens from across the seven continents.  In 2004 there were over 40 international guests representing at least 15 countries. Friday evening plans include hearing from our candidates, and Saturday evening will be more of a social party. The city of Chicago has a lot to offer as well, from live music, theater, and outdoor gardens to walks along Lake Michigan.  

The main location of the convention is the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, a beautiful historic landmark built in 1871 (www.hiltonfamilychicago.com). The hotel is right around the corner from the location of the nominating convention, the Chicago Symphony Center (www.cso.org), which is  another historic landmark built in 1904.   

The meeting committee along with the Illinois Green Party is excited to host a world-class event, and The Green Party of the United States Presidential Nominating Convention and Annual Meeting promises to be an unforgettable event. We hope to see you in Chicago this July.  

Please visit http://www.greenparty2008.org to register and for all information regarding the convention.

Thinking of running for office but not sure how to start? Your Green Party support is right here!

For information on how to run a campaign visit: www.GP.org or contact the Green Party of the United States at 866-41GREEN.

Also campaign resources can be downloaded for free at: www.gp.org/committees/campaign/resources.shtml

By Ron Hardy, Wisconsin Green Party

Wisconsin Greens were on the ballot in elections for County Board of Supervisors across the state April 1—ten incumbents and four challengers. Ten of the 14 were elected. Wisconsin now has 17 Greens holding elected office. 

Among the ten Wisconsin Green victories were two first-time candidates: Wyndham Manning, who won a landslide victory with 66 percent of the vote to take the Dane County Board of Supervisors seat vacated by retiring Green Party member Ashok Kumar, and Kathy Kienholz, who ran unopposed for a seat on the Polk County (Northwestern Wis consin) Board of Supervisors. 

Manning’s victory came in District 5, Madison’s “Student District” and a hotbed of political activity with an engaged electorate. Greens have traditionally done well there—Echaton Vedder first won the seat in 1998. A University of Wisconsin senior majoring in Environmental Studies and Communication Arts, Manning opposed College Democrat Conor O’Hagan, a freshmen Engineering student involved with student government. Manning campaigned on an overall environmental program, including specific focus on solutions to keep the many lakes surrounding Madison clean. 

“The process of making our lakes and watersheds safer has begun by banning phosphorus and coal tar sealant. I will take the lead in the next step by exploring a system of anaerobic manure digesters that co-generate exhausted methane for heat and electricity, as well as evaluating the impact of other negligent runoffs such as pesticides,” said Manning. 

Manning also championed the underrepresented in Madison, including support for Domestic Partner benefits, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and working with local area groups to expand the availability of homeless shelters. 

Kathy Klienholz, Polk County Board of Supervisors

Kathy Klienholz, Polk County Board of Supervisors

Far north of Madison, Kienholz won her first seat and thereby kept at least one Green on the Polk County Board. An active member of the St. Croix Valley Green Party since 2003, Kienholz was first introduced to the Greens by one of her sons. 

Kienholz believes she was unopposed because of the credibility that her environ mental platform gave her, combined with her financial background as a CPA and as Treasurer of the local Lake Association and the local Friends of the Library group.  “My goals are local,” said Kienholz, “Our county board has struggled in the past six to eight years, as anti-tax folks were elected to seats. Their agenda could be summed up in one word—No. No spending, no programs, no building, no nothing.” 

Kienholz intends to continue the work that fellow Green and outgoing Polk County Supervisor Jeff Peterson began by making sustainability a focus for Polk County. “I want to continue his efforts to keep that goal in the forefront. As a CPA I asked for and was elected to a seat on the Finance Committee, where I hope to be an influence for Green goals. My other committee assignment was to the Land and Water Committee, which is right up my street.”

 

Incumbents Re-elected at 80 Percent Rate

Eight incumbent Green County Board of Supervisors won re-election on April 1, including six unopposed—Robert Browne and David Conley (Douglas County), Greg David (Jefferson County), John Hardin (Barron County) and two from Dane County—Kyle Richmond and Barbara Vedder, the mother of Echnaton Vedder. 

Conley has been serving on the Doug las County Board of Supervisors in North west Wisconsin since 1986 and is the longest serving Green in office nationwide at 22 years and counting. His tenure in office predates the Wisconsin Green Party, which will be celebrating 20 years as a Party this October. Conley’s colleague on the Douglas County Board, Robert Browne, has been on the board since 1992, 16 years and counting. 

David in Jefferson County (East Central Wisconsin) has been actively promoting the Natural Step for Communities, a movement that has been sweeping across Wisconsin. He spoke at the Wisconsin Green Party’s Summer Gathering in August 2007 at which the Party officially endorsed the Natural Step and the Eco-Municipality movement throughout Wisconsin.  

 

 

Wyndham Manning, Dane County Board of Supervisors

Wyndham Manning, Dane County Board of Supervisors

In Dane County, Greens have had between two and four members on the 39-member County Board of Supervisor since 1998. Joining first-time candidate Manning this time were Richmond and Vedder, along with John Hendrick, who successfully fought off his challenger with 83 percent of the vote.

 

A member of the County Board for 14 years and a near east neighborhood community activist for even longer, Hendrick is considered an expert on local land use, planning and zoning issues and is someone other Board members turn to for advice. In recent years he has also championed drinking water quality and bringing living wage standards from Madison to a broader section of Dane County. His opponent Mark Schmitt, a print and mail coordinator for Bethel Lutheran Church, took a more conservative position than Hendrick on transportation, regulations, prisons and police, that clearly did not resonate well with the voters.

Richmond has served on the County Board since 2002, and Vedder since 2006, following six years (1995-2001) on the Madison Common Council. In 2007 the two of them, together with Richmond and Kumar, led a successful effort for the Board to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney, becoming the second county in the nation at the time to pass such a resolution. Richmond also had a role in the July 10, 2003 Dane County Board boycott of Tyson Foods in support of striking workers in neighboring Jefferson County. Vedder, in her past role on the Madison Common Council, was instrumental in passing Madison’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, a policy tool that relies on zoning laws to encourage or require developers to provide affordable units in their new housing developments.

Also re-elected in a competitive race was incumbent John Rendall, a member of the Portage County Board of Supervisors for 12 years, and before that a member of the Almond School Board for five years. Rendall supports substance abuse treatment and alternative sentencing as opposed to expanding prison populations. His opponent’s issues were primarily ‘saving the taxpayers’ money’ and opposing a proposed new Justice Center in the county. Rendall won re-election with 62 percent of the vote. 

Two other incumbent County Board Supervisors were not so fortunate. Both Bob Ryan (Door County) and Jeff Peter son (Polk County) were defeated this year. Ironically, Peterson, elected just two years ago, had also been recently appointed vice chair of the Polk County Board and was being asked to consider chairing the new, post-election County Board before he was challenged three days before the election with a well organized, “under the radar” write-in campaign that caught him totally by surprise. 

Peterson’s last minute challenger officially filed as a “write-in” candidate the Friday before the Tuesday election by a man who moved to the area in 2006. He and his supporters were ready to roll first thing Saturday morning with an efficiently coordinated literature drop throughout the district. In the literature, his opponent claimed that the county government was fleecing the tax payers, and that he would cap all taxes and slash county spending. He attacked Peterson for voting for the county budget (which raised property taxes by 13 percent) and for supporting the construction of a new environmentally conscious Highway Shop to replace the 75-year-old facility Polk County currently uses. Peterson, who didn’t have time to adequately respond to his challenger’s charges, lost 192 to 159, with 45 percent of the vote. 

Ryan, who was first elected to the Door County Board of Supervisors in 2002, has been actively involved with Sustain Door, a group of citizens and public officials looking for ways to help make Door County a more sustainable community. He is also involved with the Door County Histor ical Society and is the co-facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Program, a domestic violence prevention group. “Our county’s future, and the tax burden that its residents are asked to carry, are the two main reasons I’m running,” said Ryan during the campaign. “Two key issues are taxes and maintaining our rural environment.” 

His opponent, a self-employed farmer who was elected to the Clay Banks Town Board in 2007, accused Ryan of being “pressured by special interest groups.” He challenged Ryan in 2006 and lost by a mere handful of votes. This time he defeated Ryan by 56 votes, holding Ryan to 41 percent of the vote. 

Two other first-time Green candidates had impressive results, despite not winning their races: Michael Slattery for the Manitowoc County Board, and Bobby Gifford for the Portage County Board. Both ran strong, issue-based campaigns against well funded opponents. 

Slattery, who farms 370 acres in the predominantly rural Manitowoc County south of Green Bay, ran against the nephew of the incumbent, who outspent him ten to one. Although the district is rural, only 14 farms remain (including Slattery’s), while 25 percent of the population lives in $300,000-$400,000 homes and commute to jobs in Green Bay. 

Against an opponent who didn’t appear at candidate forums and whose primary message was that he would lower taxes, Slattery focused on the nation’s ‘big picture’, promoting non-violence, and opposition to the Iraq war. “I listed issues that we need to deal with: rising energy and commodity prices accompanying a pending recession,” said Slattery. De spite this, Michael Slattery took 37 percent of the vote. 

Gifford, who moved to Stevens Point from Milwaukee several years ago, ran against a long-tenured and well known incumbent. He ran with little money and little organized assistance, but ran on the issues important to him and important to Wisconsin. He ran on issues of the Natural Step, promoting the Eco-Municipality movement in Stevens Point, community supported agriculture and preparing for a post-Peak Oil society. “My opponent actually adopted my own expression ‘make the eco-municipality effort county-wide’ on his campaign literature, although the caveat was ‘if it didn’t impact the tax base.’” said Gifford. “I don’t feel beaten, I feel like the Board is now on notice from the citizens:  get with the program or step down.”  Gifford lost with 28 percent of the vote. 

The Wisconsin Green Party is continuing a history of running and winning in local races that goes back 22 years. Already the party is making plans for 2009 local common council races where seven incumbents will be up for re-election in Madison, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point. 

“We have our greatest impact at the local level where we can apply Green values to local issues.” said Cindy Stimmler, co-chair of the Wisconsin Green Party. “Several dozen communities in Wisconsin are actively working toward becoming ‘eco-municipalities’ through the Natural Step process and elected Wisconsin Greens are taking the lead in their local communities.” 

By David Doonan, Mayor of the Village of Greenwich, New York

Being a public elected official was never a recurring dream that haunted my sleep. While interested in politics and current affairs, in recent years the interest was more an intellectual exercise than an active pursuit. That began to change after listening to a talk in Glens Falls, New York by Ralph Nader in May 2007.

David Doonan with Ralph Nader

David Doonan with Ralph Nader

I sat in the audience as. Nader spoke at length about the need for citizen involvement at the local level. He talked about the example his parents set and told us to attend local government meetings to ensure our elected officials were acting responsibly. But when he said, “I’m going to tell you a Chinese proverb that you’ll never forget,” I rolled my eyes and silently said, “yeah, right.” Instead that proverb: “Those who know, and don’t do, don’t know,” struck home and continued to haunt me for weeks, until I finally decided to accept the challenge and run for office. 

The Village of Greenwich in Washington County is where I’ve lived for the past 17 years. Located about 50 miles north of the state capital Albany, it has a population of 1,900 and is located within the boundaries of two different towns; the more developed portion lies within the Town of Greenwich (population 5,000) and the less developed lies within the Town of Easton (population 2260) on the other side of the Battenkill River. Washington County has no four-lane roads, no enclosed shopping malls, no big box stores, no movie theatres and no television or radio stations, or even a daily newspaper. It wasn’t until the 1980 census that the human population surpassed the bovine population. In other words, the Village of Green wich, NY has nothing in common with Greenwich Village in New York City.

There were four positions I could have run for, Town Supervisor, Town Coun cilor, Village Mayor or Village Trustee. Ultimately my decision was made for me when the Village Mayor was quoted as saying that decisions are easier to make when the public isn’t present.

Village elections in Greenwich have been officially non-partisan for the past 20 years. But in New York State Village elections, non-partisan can be a misleading term. In essence, it means that one has the choice of running for office under the party to which you’re registered or one can run under the name of a non-existing party, pretending that the actual state recognized party system doesn’t exist. For instance, in the nearby town of White Creek, a local Democrat has been twice elected to office on the Woodpecker Party. When choosing a non-partisan party name, candidates must be careful that they don’t pick the same name as their opponents. That happened in this election when three candidates choose to run on the Greenwich Party; the public saw them as a slate, which they weren’t. Finally, to make matters even more confusing, if a candidate chooses to run non-partisan but does not write a party name on the petitions, then by State law, the village clerk has to assign a party name. 

I could have run as a Green. But instead I decided to run a non-partisan campaign. Most residents were upset at how the local government has been run and I knew they were looking for someone who would provide answers and a direction. For most voters, partisan politics was purely a secondary concern at best. My original intention was to run on a slate with one Demo crat and one Republican, but I ended up with two Democrats. Why did I choose to run on a slate? Quite simply, I was hoping to influence who would end up serving on the board with me. 

chose the name “Open Government” for our slate. However I did not hide my affiliation with the Green Party. At the initial volunteers meeting I made it very clear how committed to the Green Party I was (and still am). Every time I went door-to-door, my Green Party button was worn prominently and the local press repeatedly mentioned my membership in both the Green Party and the Industrial Work ers of the World. Many lifelong Re publicans who had probably never voted for a Democrat, told me that they were not only going to be voting for me, but that their entire families would be as well.

This was a very winnable race—one neighbor described the general attitude as “throw the bums out.” However, I decided not to run against the then current administration, but to put forward a positive message and attempt to provide realistic solutions for improving the community. 

Real estate was among the issues facing the community. Six years ago the Village Board secretly voted to purchase the largest piece of commercial property in the Village, the site of a former IGA food store. Today it still sits empty. Also our Village Hall is on the National Register of His toric Places by the United States Department of the Interior, but has been allowed to deteriorate since its purchase 40 years ago. The building lacks handicapped access and bricks are literally falling out of the buildings exterior walls. The Fire Depart ment is housed in the Village Hall, and is only allowed to operate because of very sympathetic inspectors.

James “Kim” Gannon, who wrote the words to the 1943 American classic “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” left a bequest together with his wife of $750,000 to be used for the youth of the Village. A commission of community members spent countless hours conducting surveys and interviews to determine the best way to go forward. A report was submitted to the Village Board, which said ‘thank you’ and promptly put it in a drawer. It was only during this past March 2008 that the community finally saw something tangible happen, half a decade since the Village received the bequest.

The costs for a new firehouse, rehabilitating Village Hall, and repairing or replacing the Village Water Tower, are expensive propositions, which is why none of the previous administrations dealt with them. Before beginning to actively campaign, I met with a local administrator of the Rural Communities Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get a handle on what types of grants and low interest loans might be available. I also attended a monthly meeting of the fire department, not just to put myself forward, but also to listen to them. 

In the 17 years we’ve lived in Greenwich, there have only been two contested elections for Trustee positions; the Mayor was never challenged. This year there were two of us running for Mayor and six candidates running for two open Trustee positions. 

While two weeklies and a bi-weekly serve our community, the daily papers in nearby Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls ignored the election. Because of the lack of daily coverage and the absence of a League of Women Voters willing to organize a de  bate, I decided to get the ball rolling on a candidate’s forum. I proposed a format to the high school principal and the rest of the candidates, which they all agreed to.

In essence, meeting with the USDA, an aide to our local congresswoman, the fire department and organizing a candidate’s forum, I was acting as if I were already in office.

For my campaign I held an open house to kick off the ballot petitioning and three supporters hosted “meet the candidate’ events. Greenwich requires 50 signatures to be listed on the ballot for village elections. The final weekend was spent going door-to-door. Money was donated by the state and national Green Party, as well as by the Greenwich Democrat Committee (my wife is vice president of the committee) and used to purchase advertisements in the local weeklies, lawn signs and palm & post cards. I also created a campaign web site from which I linked videos of the campaign forum.

Throughout the course of the month-long campaign, I tried to focus on three main issues: 1) Resolving the IGA property, determining the site of a new Fire House and repair of the Village Hall. 2) Seeking additional revenue streams to finance the above without burdening the taxpayers. 3) Opening up the government, allowing citizens a voice in shaping our community’s future.

On Election Day, March 18th, it was pretty strange walking into the voting booth and seeing my name on the ballot. When the votes were counted, our slate swept the results, with myself receiving 74 percent of the votes for Mayor.

To their credit, the outgoing administration received offers from two real estate brokers in January interested in purchasing the former IGA property, but decided to put off the matter until after the election. Unlike the secret decision to purchase the property six years ago, at the first Board Meeting I presided over, both brokers made presentations in public session. Rather than acting upon either offer, the Board decided to seek an independent appraisal of the property at my urging before proceeding. 

David Doonan holding office as Greenwich Mayor

David Doonan holding office as Greenwich Mayor

Three other items of note also happened at our first meeting. The meeting was videotaped for the first time, as will be all future board meetings, in anticipation of being uploaded to a future Village web site. Second, I submitted a written Mayor’s report of my activities. The Mayor is a public servant. Since the heads of the police, fire and public works departments are required to issue written reports, then so should the Mayor. It was a simple and effective way of demonstrating my desire to be held accountable for my actions. Thirdly, when the Trustees were given their committee assignments, I assigned them a list of tasks to accomplish. I wanted it clear to everyone that the new administration was not going to be a one-person show; that everyone had a voice.

Since the election, the number of people who have stepped forward to volunteer their time or offer constructive suggestions has been remarkable. While I have ultimate responsibility for the Village, I see my primary role as being that of a facilitator, finding a way to harness the energy of our citizens to improve the community. 

What I am attempting to do in this little corner of the world is to build an environment in which grassroots democracy can take root and flourish.

An interview with friction.tv can be found at: www.daviddoonan.com