The following is a March 20th article from press-citizen.com:
Green Party taps I.C. to host meeting
Third-party political activists say they hope to recruit more candidates to run for down-ballot races in the next few years.
The Green Party recently decided on Iowa City as the site for its annual national meeting this summer. The four-day event in July will include policy discussions and meetings between party officials from around the United States but also seminars for activists who might consider running for office.
“What we’ve been talking about is getting people to run for local office,” said Holly Hart, an Iowa City resident and Green Party organizer. “We want to open the door for promoting some of these values and policies on councils and boards.”
The Green Party started as a collection of state organizations in the mid-1980s, aiming to promote progressive positions, especially on the environment, labor and foreign policy.
The party has fielded presidential candidates in each of the last five elections, garnering relatively little support. Last year, Green candidate Jill Stein earned less than 1 percent of the national vote, putting her in fourth place.
Although advocates admit a Green Party president is unlikely soon, they say the party stands to make an impact at the local level.
“Maybe you get on the school board, and you get your name out there and can run for something else a little higher up, hopefully,” said Tamar Yager, a Green Party organizer in Virginia who’s helping to organize this summer’s convention in Iowa City.
Yager says the party’s “campaign school” seminars can help prospective candidates with some of the logistics of running.
“It gets people to knock on doors and know what to say, how to do brochures, how to find races,” she said.
Third-party voter registration in Johnson County appears to be growing slowly but remains very small. Data from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office earlier this year show almost half of one-percent of voters in the county are affiliated with either the Green or Libertarian parties. Across the state, only about .15 percent of voters are registered with a third party.
Still, no-party voters remain the biggest group of registered voters in Iowa. That’s something that could help third-party hopefuls surmount huge voter registration deficits.
“If we can attract people who are interested in getting in at the city or county level, I think there are opportunities, in Johnson County and in other areas,” Hart said. “Most voters look at the person, not the party so it’s definitely possible. We have interest, now we just need action to go with it.”
Reach Adam B Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 887-5412.