Green Party of California

Application for Delegate, Delegation to Green Party of the United States
(job description)
received February 28th, 2011

Name  -  Jesse Townley
City: Berkeley
County: Alameda
Contact Info: 510-525-4373,


I am applying to be a delegate for the California Green Party. I and 2 other long-time Greens, Lisa Stephens and Pam Webster were just re-elected to the Berkeley Rent Board in a city-wide election in November 2010.

I have been a registered Green since 1992. I spent 2 decades volunteering at 924 Gilman Street, the all-ages volunteer-run music and art collective that- in the mid-1990s- suddenly had to learn how to advocate for itself and its mixed use/industrial neighborhood. It was a rude awakening to local politics for all of us Gilman volunteers, and ultimately successful. I realized that I loved the intricacies and details necessary to navigate local government.
11 years ago, Green City Councilmember Dona Spring encouraged and inspired me to jump into local Berkeley politics. I knew her through my work at various non-profits and paratransit companies, including Easy Does It Disability Services where I served as Executive Director & Vice-President of the Board of Directors. My entry into city politics was a combination of her encouragement and my epiphany that, a, no one in power was as young as me (I was 30 then), and, b, that none of them understood how important a counter-cultural landmark like 924 Gilman was in the world-wide punk, indie, & art scenes. (Later on the successes of Gilman alumni Green Day & their Broadway show, "American Idiot" [which started at the Berkeley Rep] clued everyone in on Gilman's importance to music & art, even though the collective has concentrated on more underground acts than Green Day)

She appointed me to a city commission, the Disaster & Fire Safety Commission (then called the Disaster Council), and a year later I ran for City Council in 2004. While I lost in a 3-way race for an open seat, I gained a lot of experience and name recognition. I raised $18,000 via mostly non-traditional methods, including on-line and through art, spoken word, and music events. In 2005 I was the Volunteer Coordinator for Green Party member & later KPFA Morning Show host Aimee Allison's first Oakland City Council campaign. Throughout these years I worked with Dona, fellow City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, and many local Greens & clean election advocates on getting Alameda County to implement Instant Runoff Voting, which finally arrived in 2010. I have also served as the Chair & Vice-Chair of the Disaster & Fire Safety Commission and the Chair of the Alameda County Disaster Preparedness For Pets ad hoc group, which we formed in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina to plan for post-earthquake animal care.

After a minor 2006 kerfluffle between Berkeley Greens and the Alameda County Council, I helped re-start the Berkeley chapter of the Green Party, which had laid moribund for 12 years. We updated the by-laws, held community events, endorsed candidates, and generally increased public awareness of the Berkeley chapter for 2 years. Eventually those of us who helped rejuvenate the chapter needed to step back, and the chapter took a break until fall 2010, when it again began election work. Since I was running for reelection, I was only slightly involved, serving as the moderator for the Berkeley Greens e-mail list (which I still administer).

All of this community work raised my political profile to the point where I was able to join with other tenant-friendly community candidates chosen by the Rent Board Convention to run and be elected to the Rent Board in 2008. The Rent Board Convention is a community-run, grassroots process that allows prospective progressive Rent Board candidates to be vetted by a panel of Green Party, Peace & Freedom Party, progressive Democrats, Grey Panthers, Cal Dems, and other Berkeley groups & activists, and then voted upon by a public convention held each summer before a Rent Board election. All of us incumbents went through the same process in 2010, showing our clear connections to the grassroots.

I want to bring my grassroots electoral experience and grassroots fundraising expertise (I've also served on the Board of Independent Arts & Media, a San Francisco non-profit supporting independent voices, since 2007) to the state-wide Green Party in an effort to elect more Greens to public office. I strongly believe that to effect political change, we must amass political power at the local level. This will naturally lead to state-wide power, and the ability to apply the Ten Key Values across our state. Since it's one of the largest economies on the planet, this will further Green values exponentially.

Thank you for considering my application. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or comments.

Yours, Jesse Townley