Rich Zitola, Application for Delegate, Green Party of the United States (2015)

Name - Rich Zitola
City - Santa Cruz
County - Santa Cruz

My first experience in the Green Party came just before the 2000 election, when I attended a super-rally for Ralph Nader on the Boston University campus.  I consider myself a life-long Green, and can proudly say that I've voted in every presidential election in which I've been old enough to vote, and never once for either a Republican or Democrat.

I was an organizer for Jill Stein's 2002 campaign for Governor of Massachusetts, and was an active member of the Green-Rainbow Party (GRP) of Massachusetts for many years.  I was one of the founders of the Nashua River Green-Rainbow Local, and served several terms on the GRP State Committee (equivalent to the GPCA-CC). In 2004 I ran for the Massachusetts State Senate and was included in several televised debates.
I was a co-founder of MassIRV, a statewide coalition to promote Instant Runoff Voting.  I worked directly with two elected state legislators who filed several bills to implement IRV in Massachusetts elections.  I gave many public talks and ran several mock elections, ultimately giving formal testimony to the Election Laws Committee.  At one point, in a private meeting with nearly a dozen state legislators, I was able to thoroughly explain IRV and argue that had Massachusetts been using IRV in the 2002 election, Mitt Romney probably would not have been elected governor.  The democratic primary had included several very strong and popular progressive democrats who ended up splitting the progressive vote and losing to a conservative democrat.  She won the primary with only 31% of the vote, and had such weak support statewide that she ended up throwing the election to Romney, and the rest is history.  Despite all that, they refused to support the IRV bills, which eventually died in committee.  This experience galvanized my current position that working with democrats is utterly futile and we should run all-out campaigns to elect greens at every opportunity we have.
I was the national scheduler for Jill Stein for President 2012 from the  beginning of the campaign up to the Baltimore convention.  I worked with greens all over the country, setting up campaign tours and arranging for Jill to attend as many state conventions as possible.  I spent many hours on the road with her, through more than a dozen states, and meeting greens everywhere we went.  I spent countless hours on conference calls, discussing logistics and strategic priorities with some of the most active greens nationwide.  As a result of this, and many conventions and gatherings over the years, I now have contacts and friends in many state parties.  I appreciate the opportunity to put all those connections to work as a GPUS delegate.
During my previous term as a GPUS delegate, I served on the Presidential Campaign Support Committee, and was recently appointed to the Annual National Meeting Committee.  There is much work to be done, and our most precious resource is the collection of dedicated Greens all over the country who put in many hours keeping this party alive.  I am delighted to be a part of this organization.
Outside of the Green Party, I have a diverse technical background in science and engineering.  I graduated from Caltech with a degree in Engineering and Applied Science.  While I was an undergrad, I did geophysics research, comparing VLB (quasar interferometry) and GPS geodetic surveying techniques.  I also set up GPS station networks to measure co- and post-seismic displacement related to the 1992 Landers and 1994 Northridge Earthquakes.  I spent two years as an engineer at NASA/JPL, building full-scale mockups of the Pluto Fast Flyby spacecraft, which later became the New Horizons mission, soon to make our first encounter with Pluto.
Later I joined the IT staff at Harvard University as a Research Computing Specialist, before moving on to do climatology research.  My project was to analyze satellite and ground-based rainfall and streamflow data, looking for evidence of climate change.  Sadly, a large grant from the Bush administration diverted my research group before we could get results. After leaving academia, I joined a startup company lead by one of the co-founders of Tesla Motors, where I developed and built lithium-ion battery packs for electric cars.
As a greentech entrepreneur, I hope to build a strong and credible Green Party for a healthy and sustainable future.
For reference, here are some additional links to various news articles and press releases regarding my work within and outside the Green Party: