A highlight of 2012 Green candidates from across the country
By David McCorquodale, Green Party of Delaware
This election cycle has brought forward a new group of Green candidates in several states. In total, hundreds of candidates will be running for positions— from seats in the U.S. Congress, to state legislatures, to city, county and township positions, to seats on boards, such as water commissions and school boards. Some of the numbers, as of late August: 10 candidates for U. S. Senate, 67 for U.S. House, 11 state senate candidates, and 50 candidates for state house (or assembly or representative).
Some states are putting up about the same numbers as in the past: Colorado (8), Connecticut (11), Maine (9), Michigan (23) and New York (20). But the Illinois party has only a handful of candidates, compared to dozens four years ago. California has 21, which is a relatively small number, considering that the registered Greens from that state comprise about one-fourth of all registered Greens. Meanwhile, Greens in southern states seem to be coming on strong. Arkansas is fielding 14 candidates. Relatively new parties in Tennessee (12) and South Carolina (7) are doing well. But the state party to have the most candidates is Texas with 51, including six U.S. House candidates, 16 Texas House candidates, and two each for the State Board of Education, Texas Supreme Court, and Texas Railroad Commission.
Below are profiles for some of the Green candidates from around the nation
Sheriff, Harris County, Texas
Alessi is a young man who has a degree in criminal justice. He has studied professional standards files and thought about scientific ways of approaching criminal justice. He believes a “small minority of peace officers act cavalier with regard to accountability” and become “bullies with badges and guns.” He believes problem officers need to be dealt with before “they spoil the whole bunch.” He also notes that the newest officers are often assigned the least desirable work shifts—in the middle of the night—where they encounter “drunks and other bad elements. Such experiences harden their outlook and lead them to treat ordinary citizens with the same approach as criminals.
Having been in the Occupy movement in the past year, Alessi believes this outlook gives him an advantage over his more experienced opponents, who have not been trained in such a perspective. He opposes private prisons for profit, enforcing “vice crime” and drug laws, rounding up undocumented workers who contribute “more tax revenue” than would come from a person with full citizenship and the idea of “being tough on crime.” He advocates for more mental health services for those encountering the criminal justice system.
8th Congressional District, New York
Beavan is a long-time activist on climate crisis, who rose to prominence as a spokesman after making the documentary No Impact Man, which followed the yearlong experiment of his family in extreme environmental living. Previous media exposure of No Impact Man has given Beavan more coverage than most Green candidates—he has even appeared on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central.
Beavan addressed the 2012 Green Presidential Convention, detailing his reasons why Greens should run for office.
In his campaign Beavan expresses not only concern for urgent work on climate change, but also the importance of involving citizens again in the political process. He believes that people must act based on their ideals, bringing civility back into politics. He talks about issues that the Democrats and Republicans ignore. He spends time on weekends in subway stations, trying to encourage more people to register to vote. He hopes his campaign will promote community involvement and lead to community self-determination.
18th congressional District, California
Brouillet is a long-time media activist working to raise consciousness about critical issues that are ignored or censored by the corporate media. Much of this work has focused in recent years on the cover-up of facts behind the events of 9/11. She co-sponsored the first Local Currency Conference and printed various demonstration currencies, such as the “Perception Dollar,” and speaks frequently about the topic on her show on the Progressive Radio Network. Brouillet ran for Congress in 2008, but that attempt was hampered by health concerns.
Brouillet has created a platform that clearly explains her positions on the issues, but also frames her larger vision: Truth before profit in the media; Peace—ending the bogus war on terror and replacing global militarism with a peacetime economy; Justice—human rights above corporate greed; Ecological Wisdom; and Time for the 99 percent to organize and Occupy Congress.
Brouillet has challenged the positions of Democratic incumbent Anna Eschoo, claiming that she does not support making banks accountable for their misdeeds, that Eschoo supports bills that favor the pharmaceutical industry instead of health care for all, and that she is more concerned with allowing Israel to project its power in the region than bringing peace to the Middle East. Brouillet was arrested this spring on Good Friday in front of a Lockheed Martin building in a protest against military spending and U.S. military combat overseas. She pointed out that the incumbent has repeatedly supported the funding of military spending and “has chosen war over peace.”
U.S. Senate, New York
Colia Clark grew up in Jackson, Miss., and was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Over a lifetime, she has been fighting for human rights, women’s rights, worker rights and the rights of the homeless and youth. More recently, she has been involved in Haitian relief efforts, but unlike most charitable organizations, she draws attention to the culpability of U.S. policies toward Haiti for almost 100 years in creating the current situation. Clark ran against Chuck Schumer in 2010, receiving almost 1 percent of the vote.
This year Clark is running against Kirstin Gillibrand, who was elected to the senate in a special election in 2010. With Republican challenger Wendy Long only polling about 25 percent, perhaps more voters will be persuaded to vote their conscience this time.
While taking positions on numerous issues that Greens espouse, Clark’s top issue is education. She believes that America’s youth is its treasure and that educating them is a national priority. She would:
- Support the creation of Independent Parent Advocacy Boards in each school district;
- Oppose the use of any public funds for charter schools;
- Advocate for a more rounded curriculum, including arts, music, sports and agriculture; and
- Fund those programs by deeply cutting the military budget.
148th State Representative District, Texas
Cooper is a native Houstonian, married, with two children. He’s a machinist who has worked for more than 20 years in the gas and oil manufacturing industry.
“I’ve seen how oil companies have grown and profited through the years, and yet the good old jobs have vanished, outsourced, or transferred to subcontractors to lower the cost of labor,” he said.
Cooper, who is Hispanic, recently was re-districted into the area served by the chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus, Jessica Farrar, who faces no Republican opponent in the solidly Democratic district.
So why would Cooper run against her? As he points out, Farrar has revealed through her actions that she doesn’t represent the best interests of her constituents. While Cooper, even though employed in the resource extraction industry, is pushing for alternative technologies to carbon based fuels, Farrar supports the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring “dirty” oil into the Houston area for refining. Farrar also supported Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and his vigorous efforts to execute the Obama administration’s controversial Secure Communities program, which has been termed a “backdoor effort at a National ID.”
Cooper and his wife Alma are conducting a low-budget campaign of walking sections of the district to meet people and attending any public forum. Regardless of his chances, it will be interesting to see how much support Cooper receives through his efforts against a powerful nine-term incumbent, but with no other election opponent.
3rd Congressional District, Ohio
Bob Fitrakis is a political science professor, journalist and radio talk-show host. He is also co-chair of the Ohio Green Party and ran for governor in 2006. Fitrakis co-authored What Happened in Ohio?, a documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election, and has authored or co-authored eleven other books. Fitrakis recently co-authored an article detailing the ways Republicans are planning to control the 2012 election in Ohio, “The Ohio GOP has already moved 3 ways to steal America’s 2012 election.”
As a candidate, Fitrakis plans to advocate for:
- Full employment through a Green Jobs Initiative that creates manufacturing jobs in Ohio in renewable technology;
- Single-payer health care;
- A constitutional amendment making voting a universal right and the overturning of Citizens United;
- Supporting the Occupy movement and adopting policies which expose the power and privileges of the 1 percent; and
- The closing of Ohio’s nuclear power plants and halting all hydrofracking practices in the United States.
Fitrakis’s website also makes a strong appeal to the working-class tradition in Ohio by detailing the position of the Green Party on unions and workers’ rights. It lists the PAC contributions that incumbent Joyce Beatty (D) has received and asks, “Who do you think she’ll represent in Congress?”
U.S. Senate, Delaware
Groff is a recent convert to the Green Party. A former employee for several shoe companies, including Nike, he says his experience as an executive informed him about the exploitation of workers in Asia and the way international corporations hide profits by transferring them overseas.
Having moved back to his home state of Delaware several years ago, Groff became involved in the Occupy Delaware movement last fall. That movement constantly made the point that “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out!” Delaware is the corporate home to several of those bailed out banks, including Bank of America, which bought the credit card operations of MBNA, Citibank, and Citizen’s, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Delaware’s congressional delegation is highly supportive of legislation favorable to banks. With Sen. Tom Carper (D) up for election, “Andy” took the next steps, deciding to run against Carper and join the Green Party. Through his efforts, along with those of Green U.S. Rep. candidate Bernard August, more than 100 new members of the Green Party of Delaware were registered to meet new ballot access requirements.
Since a few key members of the Libertarian Party of Delaware were also involved in Occupy Delaware and had become familiar with Andy, and the LPDE was not running its own candidate for senate, the LPDE endorsed Groff for the office. Groff believes the distinctions between the political left and right set up false divisions among people. He believes that being able to speak as a small businessperson can help to break the barriers and garner votes from a constituency that has not considered the Green Party in the past. An alliance of small parties in Delaware may be helpful in opposing restrictive debate forum rules, which act to keep ballot-qualified candidates from smaller parties from participating.
14th Congressional District, New York
Gronowicz teaches and has headed institutes at several colleges in the New York City area. He is an author of scholarly works, including what has been termed a “classic” study: Race and Class Politics in New York City Before the Civil War (1998). He has previously run for State Assembly, for mayor of NYC, and for the same congressional seat in 2010 against the same opponent, Joseph Crowley (D), who supported the Iraq war.
Gronowicz supports the Green New Deal, first proposed by the Stein presidential campaign. He cites what he terms the shortest campaign speech on record: “I believe in the five-finger exercise: jobs, the environment, health care, housing and education” which he reels off on each finger of his right hand. “Together they spell, ‘Power to the people,’ ” and he raises his right hand in a clenched-fist. He runs for office to give people a meaningful choice on the ballot.
3rd Congressional Distric, Arkansas
Kennedy has been active in the Arkansas Green Party since 2002 and serves as co-chair. A practicing attorney, she has run previous campaigns for State Attorney General (2006, 2010) and U.S. Senate (2008). In the 2008 senate race she received more than 206,000 votes, more than any other third-party candidate in the nation. In the 2010 AG race, she got 197,000 votes or 26.8 percent. Unlike that race, when the incumbent Democrat had the support of the AFL-CIO, in this congressional race the umbrella union group is supporting her. In this race the Democrat withdrew amid questions about his claims of being in the special forces in the military.
Given the fact that Kennedy has had little money to spend on her campaigns, the number of votes she has received is testament to the need of Arkansans to have democratic choices at the polls. This time is no different, with the campaign still developing a website and looking for a volunteer tech person who will help create a contribution link.
Kennedy commented at a recent interview that she couldn’t believe that the topic of cutting Social Security is a campaign issue. “Cutting it or privatizing it shouldn’t even be on the table.” Meanwhile, cutting any of the 752 overseas military bases never comes up. Her staff member, Mark Swaney, adds that issues like global warming are still considered fringe topics “when 80 percent of the U.S. is in a drought.”
U.S. Senate, Tennessee
With two degrees in engineering, Martin lives in South Knoxville and is an employee of Knox County Engineering & Public Works department, which solves drainage problems and restores unhealthy creeks. His service includes working to craft new ordinances, which will foster a new era of green practices in the development of communities. He and his wife Virginia, along with their children, put these principles to action at home, operating a small organic farm and community garden space near the community of Vestal.
The most important reason Pleasant is running for Senate is that the restrictive ballot access laws of Tennessee require a party to receive at least 2.5 percent of the vote in a state-wide election in one cycle in order to automatically be on the ballot the next cycle. Pleasant’s presence as a candidate doubles the Green Party of Tennessee’s chances, with presidential candidate Stein also on the ballot. With incumbent Bob Corker (R) a seeming shoo-in and the Democrats apparently only putting up a sacrificial candidate, the chances that Pleasant’s appearance on the ballot will help the Green Party of Tennessee gain ballot access are good.
The party had to sue the state of Tennessee to force it to accept the Green candidates on the ballot this year. But the state is still refusing to list the Green candidates on its website, which also means that they won’t be receiving candidate questionnaires or getting invited to forums, making it difficult to connect with people who pay attention to politics.