Greens run for large, small elected offices.
by Eric Prindle†
GreenPages, Vol 7, No.3
Following up on a string of electoral victories this spring, at least 164 Green candidates are running for office in at least 16 states Nov. 4.
From major cities to small villages, Greens are working to convince voters they can win.
The city of San Fransisco got a last-minute surprise from its Green president of the Board of Supervisors, Matt Gonzalez, when he decided to run for mayor.
Although some Greens had already pledged support to progressive Democratic supervisor Tom Ammiano, the party got behind Gonzalez after a second endorsement meeting Sept. 11. He is considered a major contender for the position.
The Minnesota Green Party got an early dose of Election Day excitement Sept. 9 when former teacher, counselor, Yoga teacher and professional actor Elizabeth Dickinson ran in the primary for a seat on the St. Paul city council.
Although Dickinson did not advance to the general election, she came in a close third, right behind former councilmember Dave Thune. Dickinson was endorsed by the National Organization for Women and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers.
Several current Green officeholders are running for re-election this year. Most prominent are Boston city councilmember Chuck Turner, who is running as a Green for the first time after his Rainbow Coalition Party merged into the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts; Hartford, Conn. city councilmember Elizabeth Horton Sheff; and New Haven, Conn. city councilmember Joyce Chen.
In a number of other large cities, Greens are hoping to take council seats. In New York, second-time candidates Gerald Kann and Gloria Mattera are the party’s standard-bearers. Mattera, who received 10 percent of the vote in 2001, is running on a “Green/No to War” ticket and aiming to qualify for public funding for a second time.
In Philadelphia, former party chair Tom Hutt is running against councilmember Donna Reed Miller, who received a minority of the vote in a three-way Democratic primary.
In Albuquerque, Bob Anderson, a longtime peace activist and prominent former Green candidate for U.S. Representative, is seeking a council seat. Anderson is well known in the area, both as a popular professor at the University of New Mexico and as a peace and labor organizer.
Dominating the Green field nationally with 50 candidates is the Green Party of New Jersey. After state assemblymember Matt Ahearn (Grn-38) made a historic switch from the Democratic Party this spring, the party resolved to run as complete as possible a slate of candidates alongside his vigorous re-election campaign.
In five districts, the party is running a full slate of one candidate for senate and two for assembly.
Also running a large slate is Pennsylvania, with 40 candidates for a wide variety of positions. Many Greens are taking advantage of the fact that a large number of minor but potentially useful offices like auditor often go uncontested.
At least 15 candidates are running unopposed (including several for borough council), and the party is encouraging additional write-in campaigns for uncontested positions.
New Jersey is not the only state running state-level candidates. Although most states hold these races during even-numbered years, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia are the exceptions, and Greens are running in all four.
In Mississippi, Sherman Lee Dillon is running for governor. (See story, Page 2.) In Virginia, Sharon Bivens is running for delegate. And in Louisiana, where Green candidates must run as independents, Jason Neville for senate and Dan Thompson for representative represent the Greens.
Although the Green Party of New York State lost ballot status in 2002, it got 23 candidates on the ballot. Among those who have attracted notice is Paul Glover, who is running for mayor of Ithaca while seeking the party’s 2004 presidential nomination.
Connecticut is another Green-heavy state this fall, with 17 candidates. In New Haven, Chen is joined on the council ballot by Vic Edgerton, who is running for the seat being vacated by Green councilmember John Halle, and Charles Pillsbury, who is well-known for his Green run for U.S. Representative in 2002.
Although off-year elections don’t choose high-level officials, they have proven to be important for the Green Party, as high-profile victories have boosted the party’s image. The Green candidates who have stepped forward hope to continue that trend.
Mike Feinstein and Rick Lass contributed to this report.