Voice for ‘Working People’

Green Party looks to offer political voice for 'working people'

Group hopes to gather more support in Tier

By Brian Liberatore Press & Sun-Bulletin

BINGHAMTON — The better-of-two-evils approach to voting leaves polling places sparse and dampens hope for a responsive government, a local Green Party member and Afton town board member said Saturday. Dissatisfaction with the two-party system, she said, soon gives way to apathy.

"I think people feel if there are only two parties and neither one is representing me, there isn't a lot of motivation to vote," said Mary Jo Long, who ran on the Green Party line in November 2005 and won a seat on the Afton board. "In a way what has happened is the Green Party is the alternative party."

Matthew Borenstein of the New York City Green Party voices his opinions during the New York State Green Party committee meeting Saturday at the Fellowship Hall of the First Congregational Church in Binghamton.

The State Green Party Committee held its trimester meeting Saturday in the Fellowship Hall at the First Congregational Church in Binghamton to discuss the party's agenda and the 2006 election.

About 100 people with various degrees of disgust toward the current state of American politics filled the dimly lit space, surrounded by pamphlets, agendas and copies of a 900-point draft of the party's state platform. On Saturday afternoon, the group was pushing through the platform in search of a cohesive message.

Long described her party as representative of "working people" and unencumbered by special interests. The Green Party, she said, gives people a choice. And while Long is one of only a dozen Greens elected to public office in New York, the group felt the current political climate characterized by disenfranchised voters could lead to more Green Party members in office in the future.

"Participation in national elections has never been lower," said Tony Gronowicz, a former Green Party candidate for New York City mayor. "The fastest growing sector of voters are independent voters. All those factors are in our favor."

Gubernatorial candidate hopeful and Green Party member Sander Hicks believed his party gave voters a choice.

"The majority of people in New York state are pro-peace and anti-death penalty," Hicks said. "Just to name two issues, there are no other parties that represent that. Nobody in the governor's race is representing the will of the people."

Hicks highlighted the parties' approach to political, economic and social justice by touching on the Green Party's opposition to globalization, corporate influence on the government and, as the name suggests, a more environmentally friendly policy.

About 37,000 New Yorkers are enrolled in the Green Party. It's a movement, said Shawna Cole, a Broome County Green Party official, that is gaining momentum.

"We have a strong interest to reorganize here in Binghamton and get people active."

© 2005 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin