Cynthia Santiago for California State Assembly

Cynthia Santiago for California State Assembly

Draws votes for first time campaign
by David MCorquodale, Green Party of Delaware

How do Greens go about building up recognition as a viable candidate? One ex­ample is what Cynthia San­ti­ago did in running for the 51st district seat of the California State Assembly.

Santiago says she was a Green from the young age of 15. Hav­ing grown up in Santa Monica, she met and was en­couraged by former Green Party Mayor, Mike Fein­stein and ran and was elected student body president at Santa Monica High School. Then after graduating from Wes­leyan College, she returned to the Los Angles area and attends law classes at South­west­ern in Los Angeles planning to specialize in criminal defense and immigration law.

As the 2010 election approached, the Dem­ocratic incumbent for State Assembly was still running unchallenged. Santiago de­cided to step up and although the area has few registered Greens, she found it easy to get on the ballot.

With little funds to spend, Santiago’s main campaign tool was social networking. She set up a Facebook page and attended a number of meet-and-greets at local social groups and businesses. “Because it’s im­portant to educate, I focused on three issues: green jobs; education; and public transportation,” said Santiago. “I didn’t attack my op­ponent. I talked about the issues I wanted them to think about.” She believes that being a young woman of color without any ties to a particular interest group gained her credibility.

Although the district is historically Demo­cratic-leaning, one factor seemed obvious in helping Santiago gain votes. “A lot of people were disappointed in Obama, especially in this district,” she said. Santiago received 15,486 votes or 18.3 percent. She noted, “voters were inclined to vote for someone different.” All in all, it was a good showing for a first-time candidate, who will hopefully be running again in the future.

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