Barred From Environmental Candidates Forum, Green Party Candidate Cassandra Lems Stages Protest


Nassau County - Cassandra Lems, Green Party candidate for County Executive, organized a mini-protest Sunday outside an Environmental Candidates Forum at Adelphi University. Ms. Lems and a small group of Green Party members handed out campaign literature to attendees at the forum, which was sponsored by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in partnership with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Vision Long Island and Adelphi University.

In late September and against last week, when Green Party members Jim Brown and Peter Louis called forum organizer Joshua Klainberg to ask that Cassandra Lems be included, they were told that Green Party candidates do not receive enough campaign contributions or media attention to be “viable.” Mr. Klainberg offered to allow Ms. Lems to sit in the audience, to have her presence acknowledged, and speak to attendees after the event. However, Ms. Lems declined that offer, saying she found it “patronizing and demeaning to be expected to sit and listen to ‘the real candidates’ speak.”

 Rather than sit passively in the audience as the two mainstream candidates aired their views, Ms. Lems chose to hand out special “protest campaign literature” to all attendees of the forum.

“We think all candidates on the ballot deserve the chance to be heard,” said Ms. Lems. “This protest is my way of making myself heard to those who care about environmental issues. My name will appear on the November ballot and I am every bit as legitimate a candidate as the two big party candidates who were invited to this forum.”

“This is just one example of how elections these days are all about money,“ said Ms. Lems. “The Democratic and Republican candidates have received huge amounts of money from corporations, special interests, and individuals wishing to do business with the county, and of course from the two big parties, which are special interests in their own right. We find it shocking that environmental organizations would turn their backs on the only candidate who is campaigning strongly on environmental issues. We will never be able to meet their criteria for campaign contributions or media access if environmental organizations will not even allow us a seat at the table.”