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Synthesis/Regeneration 22   (Spring 2000)

Local Green Politics

Ithaca Green Party Wins Its First Seat

by Paul Glover, Ithaca Green Party

Based on their strong showing in the '99 elections, local Greens look forward to gaining one or two more seats in the 2001 elections. Five seats will be open that year, and those in Wards 4 and 5 are particularly vulnerable. The Green Party's Ward 4 candidate, Josh Glasstetter, won his seat with 54% of the vote, becoming Ithaca's first-ever undergraduate council member, and the only NYS official elected exclusively on the Green party line.

Green candidates won surprisingly good totals in three other wards, considering that they are political newcomers (ages 18-21) and that they scarcely campaigned at all.

The Mayor's Race

The Democratic Party has dominated City elections for 25 years, but this year the party split into its Republican and Green wings. Major landlords, major landowners, developers and contractors waged an aggressive campaign on behalf of Alan Cohen, while local environmentalists and small business advocates favored smart growth ideas championed by Dan Hoffman.

The extremely liberal character of Ithaca is evident in the vote total. Despite being endorsed by all print media, despite the powerful last-minute lies published about Hoffman's voting record, despite being endorsed by six Republican Democrats on Council, despite Cohen's personal charm, despite Hoffman's strategy of relying on a political center that does not presently exist, Cohen won by only 400 votes (54%) out of 4400 cast (18% of voting age residents).

Had Hoffman pushed aggressively to inspire the Green vote by accepting the Green ballot line, had rain not been so heavy (keeping a majority of the 1,400 student voters home), and had Ithaca an independent community-based newspaper to promptly rebut lies, Hoffman would have easily won.

The Green Party can rally a new political center for Ithaca, by effectively addressing the central concerns of Ithacans for well-paying creative jobs, reasonable rents, safe and friendly streets for raising kids, low-cost health services, clean air and water, transportation alternatives, low-cost healthy food, energy efficiency, and lower taxes.

As the electoral arm of progressive community nonprofits, bringing forward their legislative agendas, Green proposals will contrast with those of Council's Republican Democrat majority. While Alan Cohen has been mayor, City Council has become more conservative than any during the past thirty years. They have surrendered Ithaca to corporate priorities; proclaimed Ithaca "open for business" even when businesses pay poor wages or damage flood plains; and at the same time they've cracked down hard on students, skateboarders, postering, porch couches. City Hall seems to believe that pouring cement indiscriminately is economic development.

Cohen's appointees had to be restrained from tearing out the Commons and installing a road.

Economic development can be fun, and should benefit average people rather than elites. Greens will show that Ithaca will be "open for good business" which pays decently and which links to local nonprofit aims.

This community can become wealthy by relying primarily on local creativity rather than imported capital. We'll prosper by becoming dynamically different from any other city, rather than copy the mistakes made by our neighbors.

For more information about the Green Party of New York: www.greens.org/ny/ * 707-272-4330 * Email hours@lightlink.com

These are portions of an electronic communication that Josh Glasstetter used during the campaign:

Most of you already know me, but for those who don't, my name is Josh Glasstetter, and I'm the Green Party candidate for Ward 4 (primarily Collegetown and West Campus) City Council. I'm the editor of The Cornell Progressive (www.cornellprogressive.org) and have been active with the Cornell Greens, Cornell Organization for Labor Action, Progressive Media Alliance, and numerous other activist and advocacy organizations during my time in Ithaca.

As someone with a long track record in matters of social, economic, and environmental justice you can be assured that if elected I will work to:

But it's not going to be easy. That's why I need your help. I am running against a political machine in its own right. Ward 4 Democrats have been happy with the way things have been going, and until now they have never been challenged. They have repeatedly ignored students, never taking the initiative to help students register to vote, and have elected conservative "Democrats" who serve their interests.

I'm trying to change all that. With the help of the Cornell Greens, Cornell Democrats, and Hoffman for Mayor campaign the Ithaca Green Party has registered hundreds of students in my ward and elsewhere.

My opponent is Jane Pedersen, an assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences at Cornell. She has just moved into the ward from near Trumansburg and now hopes to be on City Council. She is a former landlord and now owns a home on Cascadilla Park Rd., which not many people know of since living there is the furthest removed one can be from the rest of the neighborhood. There are even "No Thru Traffic" signs at both ends! Does it make sense for a person who: owns her own home, has isolated herself from the rest of the community, has allied herself with conservative Democrats, is a former landlord, and works for Cornell (which City Council members must often stand up to) to be representing the most liberal ward of the city which consists almost entirely of students and renters? I think not. There are two representatives for each ward, at least one should have something in common with the majority of residents living there.

That's why I'm trying to rock the boat. In addition, other Green Party candidates are trying to do the same elsewhere around the community.

óJosh Glasstetter

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