Mar 06, 2012 Walt Shepperd Uncategorized
A Green Party gathering at ArtRage last month was an informational session typical for the group, but when a member of the Green Hawks, the volunteers who door-knock to turn voters out on Election Day, shared that perennial candidate Howie Hawkins had lost the 4th District Common Council seat race by 96 votes, and that, without a Republican in on the ballot, Greens had outpolled Democrats, a realization settled in. Hearing from a Green Hawk that votes on the Working Families line had tipped the balance, with WFP volunteers coming from as far as Rochester to knock on Election Day doors, and later from Hawkins that 300 folks who had pulled his level two years ago didn’t show this time, the irony was clear. While concerns were expressed about “preaching to the choir,” it was obvious that for this election the choir didn’t show up.
While the numbers were disappointing, for Hawkins they indicated that a Green could actually win a local election. “And not just in the 4th Council District,” he maintained, noting that he had tallied write-in votes for 13 different offices on the 2011 ballot. “Greens need to be in the 2012 election,” he told the three dozen attendees, “particularly to raise the issues of hydrofracking and health care. Those gathered were asked if anyone wanted to declare a candidacy on the spot, an announcement that would be reported in this column. No one responded.
The flow of information at the meeting provided brochure bullet items for potential candidates. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without universal health care, folks were told, a concept that started in Switzerland in 1911. Twenty percent of the people get 86 percent of the health care. We need to see ourselves as customers, not patients. Perspective was also provided on a lighter note. “It’s so simple,” Stephen Colbert was quoted. “Most people who can’t afford health insurance are also too poor to owe taxes. But if you give them a deduction from the taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they’re not getting back to buy the health care they can’t afford.”
Although none declared, prospective Green candidates got a mentoring from Mary Jo Long, who won an election as a Green in Afton, N.Y. She stressed that you don’t need experience to run, you need commitment. “You have to ask people for their vote,” she maintained. “You have to have a campaign manager [in her case it was her husband], and a support network. You need a brochure to list the issues and show the ballot location.”
Green candidates have an advantage, at least temporarily, in mounting campaigns. Since Hawkins got more than 50,000 votes in the last gubernatorial race, the party enjoys “permanent ballot status” at least until the next run for governor. That means way fewer signatures need to be gathered on nominating petitions. Anyone with questions about the process should call 440-9341. And anyone who wants to declare a Green candidacy will have their announcement reported in this column.