On the Left, 3rd Parties include Green and Working Families


Left-leaning Central New York voters have two major options for alternative parties: The Green Party and The Working Families Party.

Here’s a closer look at the two parties:

The Green Party

Progressive voters are left out by Democrats or Republicans, said Howie Hawkins, co-founder of The Green Party and a frequent candidate for multiple political offices.  So far he has not been elected.   “The majority of the people on particularly economic issues don’t have representation in the two parties. So we’re the progressive alternative,” said Hawkins.

In Onondaga County, The Green Party has just 664 voters, which is less than one percent of the total voter population, according to the Onondaga County Board of Elections.

Here are some of the platform ideas those voters value, according to The Green Party website:

  • Sustainable economy: practice agriculture to replenish the soil and respective the environment, not trash it.
  • Grassroots democracy: political decisions should be made at the local level, not by the state or federal government.
  • A higher minimum wage.
  • A ban on hydrofracking: extracting natural gas by fracturing underground rock with high-pressure water and chemicals.
  • Progressive tax reform: have the wealthy pay a higher share of taxes in Onondaga County.

The Green Party began in the 1980s and is nationally recognized.  It’s also has had its fair share of candidates.  In the 2000 presidential race, Ralph Nader racked up 244,030 votes. And he and The Green Party was widely blamed for depriving Democratic candidate Al Gore of victory againstRepublican George W. Bush.

In the 2010 New York gubernatorial race, Hawkins along with Republicancandidate Carl Paladino were among the losers to now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  Across New York state, under The Green Party ballot line, voters have elected village mayors, common councilors and school board members.

The Green Party stresses an importance to run its own candidates on its ballot lines, Hawkins said.  “If we don’t run our own candidates then the Democrats will take the whole progressive side of the electorate for granted,” he said, “because those people aren’t going to vote for Republicans.”

This year, Ursula Rozum of Syracuse is running on The Green Party lined for the 24th Congressional District.  Other candidates include U.S. Rep.Ann Marie Buerkle, R-Ononaga Hill, Democrat Dan Maffei of DeWitt and Republican Robert Paul Spencer of Parish.

In campaign fundraising so far in 2012, The Green Party has received $195, according to the New York State Board of Elections.  It does not accept money from businesses or for-profit entities, Hawkins said.  In terms of spending, The Green Party has dished out $1, 417, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

The Green Party needs support, said Hawkins.  “The biggest barrier,” Hawkins said, “ is people believing The Green Party can win.”

The Working Families Party

The Working Families Party also aims to attract voters with a left-leaning platform.

“Our issue is to make positive, social change,” said Jesse Lenney, the upstate political director of The Working Families Party.  “And one way to do that is electing candidates that champion certain causes — like minimum wage, fair elections and stopping hydrofracking.”

In Onondaga County, it has 1, 256 registered voters, which is less than one percent of the total voter population, according to the Onondaga County Board of Elections.  Here are some The Working Families Party’s ideas:

  • Paid sick days for all New Yorkers.
  • Affordable housing.
  • Affordable healthcare for all New Yorkers.
  • Public financing of elections

Like The Green Party, The Working Families Party also advocates a ban on  hyrdofracking.

The Working Families Party started in 1998 in New York and has spread to seven other states.  They include Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Delaware, Vermont, Oregon and Pennsylvania.  There is no national Working Families Party.

The party is known for endorsing candidates with one or more political affiliation. For example, in 2010 it endorsed Democrat Andrew Cuomo for governor.  In order for a party to remain recognized by the state, it needs at least 50,000 votes on its ballot line for every gubernatorial election. By endorsing Democrats or Republicans, it makes it easier for The Working Families Party to win at least 50,000 votes.

The Working Families Party looks for a particular type of candidate. “We are looking for people who are not afraid to take a stance on important issues,” Lenney said.

This year, in the 24th Congressional District race The Working Families Party has “enthusiastically endorsed Dan Maffei,” said Lenney.

For The Working Families Party, elections are about opposing conservativemovements like The Tea Party, said Lenney. “We’ll do everything humanly possible,” he said, “to reduce the strength of the Tea Party by one.”

(Jake Reiner is a junior broadcast journalism student with minor in European history.)


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