Next Step: Greens in the AssemblyAfter the 2002 elections, the Maine Green Party proclaimed they had the highest ranking elected Green in the country. John Eder had been elected to the State House of Representatives, District 31 (Portland), with over 70% of the vote.
By Forrest Hill
Maine's claim of having the only Green state legislator did not last long. In January 2003, Matt Ahearn, a progressive Assemblyman from New Jersey, left the Democrats to join the Green Party. Asked why he switched, Ahearn replied, "Too few of my former caucus members were willing to stand for their commitments. The stranglehold by big money in politics must be broken at all levels of government. Our children and their future grandchildren deserve nothing less from us." With Ahearn actively working for election reform at the state level, plans are underway to run Green Party candidates for the New Jersey legislature. Already county locals have recruited 32 Greens to run for Assembly and 7 to run for State Senate.
On the west coast, the Green Party of California is trying to emulate its sister party on the Atlantic by gaining a seat in the State House. Leading the charge to become the first Green to serve in the California Assembly is former Hemet City Councilor Tom Hutchings, running for office in District 33 (San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties). Ex-Vietnam veteran and Peace officer, Tom is a peace activist and environmentalist who believes that social change will only occur when Greens are in a position to implement political solutions at the state level. "Protecting California's economy, restoring funding to schools and healthcare, and supporting small business are fundamental to maintaining our quality of life," Hutchings said. "As the 33rd District Assembly representative, I will strive to keep the community's money local, and work to set a living wage for all community members."
Adrienne Prince, Assembly candidate in the 37th district (Ventura County) said, "I'm frustrated about the unaccountability of our elected officials who use our tax dollars to further war and industry 'sweetheart deals', and think it's time we started making social justice a top priority in our communities." Adrienne believes in the need to strike a balance between ecological sustainability and economic growth. "While most working people in California can't afford decent housing, a small minority of the wealthy individuals are liquidating the natural resources of this planet", Prince wrote recently. "We need to foster greater equity and balanced in our lifestyles if we hope to preserve this planet for future generations."
A seasoned candidate, Warner Bloomberg is running for the second time in Assembly District 23 (San Jose). In 2002 he received over 18 percent of the vote as the only alternative to the Democrat Party incumbent. During the race, Bloomberg spoke at community meetings about electoral reform, the need for low income housing, and solar energy as an alternative to gas fueled power plants, and he obtained radio and print media exposure for the Green Party. Having already built up name recognition within his district, Bloomberg is running again to help build the Green Party in Santa Clara County.
John Crockford, a newcomer to the Assembly race in District 29 (Fresno, Madera and Tulare Counties), wants to increase the power of labor through effective legislation. "I believe management continues to wield the balance of power through a lack of accountability hidden within the framework of corporations," says Crockford. "I am running for Assembly because we need State representatives who are dedicated to stopping urban sprawl, enacting fair housing laws, creating green spaces, and preserving the environment."
In order for the Green party in California to gain more recognition, voters outside the Green "inner circle" must begin to recognize it as a viable alternative to the two party system. Like New Jersey and Maine, this will ultimately happen when Greens have representatives serving in Sacramento. As Bloomberg puts it, "To become a truly viable party we need a multi-level strategy. We need more candidates running for electoral office at all levels of government."
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