In the Illinois primary election on February 2, voters can choose a party which really represents them. That is, they can choose the Green Party instead of the two corporate parties. Due to the fact that the Green Party is an established party in Illinois, voters have the choice of Green, Democratic or Republican ballots. See the ILGP website for a complete list of recognized candidates.
Heading the list of statewide Green Party candidates are LeAlan Jones, candidate for Senate, and Rich Whitney , candidate for governor. This is the second run for governor for Rich. In 2006 he ran an incredibly powerful campaign on a minuscule budget and received slightly over 10% of the vote. This result converted the Illinois Green Party to an established party through the 2010 election cycle.
Illinois is in a huge budget crisis. Social service agencies have been cut and those that are supposed to be paid are waiting months for payments. There is a $13 Billion hole in the budget that the governor and the state legislature refuse to deal with. Since 2006 the Illinois Green Party has been advocating a plan to reform the tax structure in Illinois so that education and social services can be adequately funded. The goal is to decrease reliance on property taxes and raise the income tax on the wealthier people. See Rich Whitney’s website for full details on this plan.
LeAlan Jones is a 30 year old African American who came to the Green Party in 2009 with the desire to run for office as a Green Party candidate. LeAlan came to national attention when he was just 13 years old. A reporter from National Public Radio gave LeAlan and his buddy a tape recorder to document daily life in the Ida B. Wells housing project on Chicago’s South Side. The resulting documentary, ìGhetto Life 101î won awards and was heard by millions all across the country. LeAlan has written a book, Our-America: Life and Death on the Southside of Chicago, based on this documentary. LeAlan is emphasizing education as the key problem to be solved for youth.
The Illinois Green Party has candidates for all of the statewide offices up for election in 2010. There are also candidates for most of the 19 Congressional seats. In the 5th Congressional District which covers much of the north side of Chicago there is a vigorous contest for the Green Party nomination. Three candidates on the ballot; two of whom are recognized Green Party Candidates. They are Matt Reichel and Terrence Gilhooly. Matt Reichel won the special election Green Party primary in 2009 and is running a vigorous campaign, emphasizing opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a full employment green economy. Terrence Gilhooly was the Green Party candidate for Cook County Recorder of Deeds receiving over 100,000 votes. Terrence has decades of experience in Chicago politics and joined the Green Party in 2008 because he sees the need for a new, pro-people politics. To clarify, the Illinois Green Party does not slate candidates in the primary. There is just a simple process to ìrecognizeî all candidates who are members of the ILGP and who obtain recognition for the relevant body of the ILGP as having principles generally in line with Green Party values. (See ILGP Bylaws for complete details.)
The members of the state legislature have tried to protect themselves from competition by setting high signature requirements for state representative and state senator. In these relatively small districts with gerrymandered boundaries, all candidates for state representative need to collect 500 valid signatures and for state senator 1000 valid signatures. The result has been that many incumbent state legislative candidates face no competition either on the primary ballot or on the general election ballot. Nevertheless seven ILGP members have collected the necessary signatures to get on the primary ballot for state representative.
In Cook County (Chicago is in Cook County) Tom Tresser is a particularly strong candidate for the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Tom was a leader of the organization opposing the 2016 Olympic bid by the City of Chicago. When that movement was successful, he decided to run for Cook County Board President to take on the problems of corruption, cronyism, and misgovernment in Cook County. The ILGP also has candidates for Assessor and Sheriff and for the three Commissioner positions open on the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (www.greens4mwrd.org). There are recognized Green Party candidates for 7 of the 17 individual seats on the Cook County Board.
McHenry County and Lake County also have county level Green Party candidates.
This season our candidates are getting out to the public earlier than they ever have before. Rich Whitney, LeAlan Jones, and Tom Tresser have all participated in candidate forums. Many websites are already up and fundraising events have been happening. Fundraising has been a historic weakness in many of the ILGP campaigns. However, many candidates have already gotten off to a good start. Green Party supporters from across the country are welcome to give them contributions. See the individual websites or the state party website for details.