Jared Ball, Kat Swift, and Kent Mesplay
were tabling in the lobby long before the crowds of people got thick.
Soon after that Cynthia McKinney showed
up and stole the show.
After I'd found a seat a postman told
me that Nader was out in the lobby. I went out and got this picture. As
usual, there were lots of people that wanted Nader to sign something or
hear something, or accept something. He handled it all gracefully,
although he did seem to have a back ache or something like that.
Most of the people that asked the Green
Party to put their names on the ballot as Presidential Candidates were
vetted. One of the ones that was rejected because he didn't have enough
support from his County Green Party was Paul Kangas. However, he is
still running as a write in Candidate. Before the debate he was passing
out his flier and talking about the medicinal qualities of Penny Royal
tea. He assured me that he has qualified as a write in Candidate for
President in California. Based on that I would say if you want to
"protest vote", write in Paul Kangas.
Aimee Allison, the morning show host on
KPFA was the moderator for the event. She kicked things off by
introducing Ross Mirkarimi, one of the highest elected officials who is
a registered Green.
After Ross thanked us all for being
part of this historic occasion Aimee introduced Gail McLaughlin, who is
still the Mayor of Richmond. Gail asked everybody who is living in
Richmond to sign her ballot measure to lower the boom on the oil
companies that are still trying to run roughshod over her city. Then it
was on to the Candidates opening statements.
Jared Ball said he is running to bring
the Hip Hop Community into the political system. He wants better media
democracy and the American Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He feels
that it is necessary for all of us to stop voting for evil PERIOD!
Kent Mesplay opened by leading us in
some "Yes we can!" chants. Then he said we need a more sustainable
political system, and that registering Green and voting Green is part
Cynthia McKinney reminded us about her
six terms in Congress. She mentioned that during her Congressional
career she had introduced articles of impeachment against Bush, Cheney,
and Rice. Cynthia talked about the inspiring things she had seen in the
25 States she has already visited as part of this Campaign. She
promised to visit the rest by the end of the Campaign. She asked us to
vote for Cynthia McKinney for a more inclusive Green Party that is
moving forward together.
Kat Swift began by saying "I really
believe in personal responsibility." She explained that she has done a
lot of work with the alternative medicine community in San Antonio, TX.
Jesse Johnson is the Mountain Party of
West Virginia's representative. He explained that he isn't quite an
announced Candidate yet because of some fine point of West Virginia
ballot law. Then he said he was running because "we need to put the
'zen' in 'citizen'. He also wanted us to know that every day a mountain
of coal is burned to make electricity in the USA. His people in West
Virginia (a mountain State) are feeling the pain from this, because
mountaintop removal to get at the coal is causing huge environmental
problems in his world. He asked all of us to find ways to make our
lives more energy efficient and sustainable.
This was followed by a long series of
questions from journalists and political leaders like Cindy Sheehan and
Mark Sanchez (I regret not getting good pictures of the rest of them).
The impression I walked away from it all with was that Kat Swift is the
most pro-hemp Candidate, all of them are opposed to Bush's wars, and
Cynthia McKinney is by far the most likely to lead the Green Party into
Larry Bensky used some of his time on the stage to ask everybody to
support Cindy Sheehan's run for Nancy Pelosi's seat. He said that
electing her would do more to fix our problems than anything else we
Then the Green Incumbents in the room
were honored with a moment on the stage while we clapped for them.
During closing statements, Jared Ball
told people to vote for Cynthia McKinney. He said he is going to ask
people to do that during the rest of his campaign. The rest of them
said things more like what I was expecting to hear.
Melanie Mullen is Deputy Leader of the
Green Party of Ontario (Canada). She
spoke to let us know that the world is watching, and that they wanted
to honor the occasion.
I think Ross then introduced Ralph
Nader, who couldn't appear on the stage at the same time as the other
candidates because he didn't want the FEC to get the idea he is running
Ralph railed against corporate power
and said that a vigorous campaign needs to have paid staff on the
ground all over the USA. After listening for a while I decided that I
wanted to get the vote out for Cynthia McKinney. Symbolic campaigns are
more appropriate to the Congressional level now. We need to remember
that before Ralph let us use his name to get ballot lines the Green
Party was only an idea shared by a tiny group of activists though.