by Dave McCorquodale, Green Party of Delaware
At least 187 Greens are running for political offices in 27 states and the District of Columbia this November, 2010. The sought after positions range from the local level, such as non-partisan neighborhood advisory seats, to state level such as gubernatorial campaigns, to federal seats for senator and representatives. The five states with the majority of the Green candidates seeking positions are: Illinois (43), California (25), Maine (18), Texas (16), and New York (14).
There is a wide range in what Green candidates do for a living. Among those on the campaign trail are lawyers, teachers, college professors, physicians, counselors, artists, architects, and of course activists. Many candidates have work histories that feature a mixture of working class labor such as in construction, truck driving, and trade ñ with white collar professions and small business ownership. Many candidates are authors, poets, writers or bloggers(see sidebar).
A commonality among Green candidates is a connection to or support for united workers. On their websites, many candidates express an appreciation and respect for labor and the power of unionization. Hugh Giordano, candidate for State Representative in Philadelphia, PA, is currently employed as union organizer for the United Food and Commerical workers Union (UFCW) Local 152.
Candidates include several veterans of the Marine Corps and other branches of the military such as; Dan Kairis, U.S. Representative of Illinios and also an enthusiatic Harley-Davidson motorcycle rider; Michael Smith, Cook County Commissioner in Illinois, serving 15 years in the military and 15 years in law enforcement; a former NFL football player, Morgan Reeves, Governor of South Carolina; Sheldon Schaefer, U. S. Representative of Illinios, who is director of a planetarium; Howie Hawkins, Govenor in New York and part of the founding of the Green Party in the United States, John Gray, U.S. Senate in Arizona and an enthusiastic backpacker; a player of the Great Highland Bagpipe, Ken Adler, U.S. Representative of Arizona; architects Jack Lindblad, State Assembly in California and Howard Switzer, Governor in Tennessee; and Jesse Johnson, House of Delegates in West Virginia, actor, filmmaker, and 2008 Gubernatorial candidate of West Virginia.
Persistent activists lead the way in two states
At the head of two Green party tickets are two long-time activists, Rich Whitney of Illinois and Dr. Jill Stein of Massachusetts, both running for Governor in their states. Their leadership and involvement in other issues brought them into the Green Party and showed their ability to handle big undertakings. They have run again and again for office, learning with each campaign and gaining in credibility with the electorate.
Rich Whitney, 54, is an attorney and partner in the Carbondale, Illinois law firm of Speir and Whitney. Born in Connecticut, he received his Bachelor’s Degree in telecommunications at Michigan State University in 1977. He has long been politically active in support of the labor, environmental, civil rights, women’s and antiwar movements.?Whitney was involved in nationwide legal battles to regulate tobacco advertising on behalf of the public health community. In his legal practice, he has also taken on challenging and sometimes controversial cases to protect First, Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, combating political patronage in employment, harassment and unjust firings of coal miners, prison employees, police officers and many other workers.
Whitney is also one of the founding members of the Illinois Green Party and wrote a good portion of the Party’s platform. In 2002, he ran for state representative for the Party in the 115th District, winning enough votes to make the party a legally “establishedî party in the District. He campaigned again in 2004, and in 2006 ran as the Party’s first ever candidate for Governor. He won over 360,000 votes in that race, about 10.5 percent of the total, and more than enough to make the Green Party an “establishedî party under Illinois election law.
Even with all his efforts on the campaign trail, he is always active in local political battles to protect the environment and resist urban sprawl, as well as the ongoing effort to oppose the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. In May, Whitney embarked on a nine day, 654 mile ìsustainable transportationî tour of the state traveling only by bicylcle or mass transit to publicze his ideas for sustainable transportation in Illinois.
Stein helped formulate a ìSecure Green Futureî ballot initiative calling upon legislators to accelerate efforts to move the Massachusetts economy to renewable energy and prioritize green jobs. The measure won over 81 per cent of the vote in the 11 districts in which it was on the ballot.
Dr. Jill Stein, the Rainbow-Green Party candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, is a mother, housewife, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate. Stein began to advocate for the environment as a human health issue in 1998 when she realized politicians were simply not acting to protect children from the toxic threats emerging from current science. She offered her services to parents, teachers, community organization and a native American group seeking to protect their communities from toxic exposure. She has testified before numerous legislative panels as well as local and state governmental bodies and appeared on television programs.
After working to help pass a Clean Election Law, activists in the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party approached Dr. Stein in 2002 and asked her to run for Governor of Massachusetts. Dr. Stein accepted and began her first foray into electoral politics. She has twice been elected to town meeting in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is the founder and past co-chair of a local recycling committee appointed by the Lexington Board of Selectmen.
Stein represented the Rainbow-Green Party in two additional races ñ one for State Representative in 2004 and one for Secretary of State in 2006. In 2006 she won the votes of over 350,000 Massachusetts citizens ñ which represented the greatest vote total ever for a Green-Rainbow candidate.
In 2008, Stein helped formulate a ìSecure Green Futureî ballot initiative calling upon legislators to accelerate efforts to move the Massachusetts economy to renewable energy and prioritize green jobs. The measure won over 81 per cent of the vote in the 11 districts in which it was on the ballot.
Information on all the Green Party candidates, including additional links to campaign websites is available at: http://www.newmenu.org/.