Petrina Crockford ’03 thought it was odd.
She noticed that while Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader received nearly 20 percent of the vote in mostly-Yale Ward 1 in last November’s election, there was no organized Green Party at Yale. In January, Crockford began laying the groundwork for a Yale chapter of the party, and now she is hoping for a Green Ward 1 alderman.
As the four students seeking to replace Democratic Ward 1 Alderman Julio Gonzalez ’99 hastily prepare for next week’s Democratic nominating convention, the Green Party’s first order of business is to find candidates of its own. The party will hold an informational meeting Monday to identify potential candidates.
David Corson-Knowles ’03, who is heavily involved with the Green Party, said one undergraduate and one graduate student had expressed interest, but he would not give their names.
Corson-Knowles said the Green Party has 80 to 100 registered voters in Ward 1, which could be augmented through further registration drives. He said he was excited about the possibility of a multi-party campaign in a ward traditionally dominated by Democrats.
“I think it would be really good to have a competitive campaign,” he said. “If you are going to have a two-party system, Green-Democrat would be the best way.”
Rob Smuts ’01, assistant Democratic Registrar of Voters in Ward 1, was less enthusiastic.
“I think any competition is good, but I think the Green Party are a bunch of fools,” Smuts said. “I think their approach to getting things done is counter-productive even though I agree with them on most issues.”
Corson-Knowles disagreed that the two parties had similar positions on the issues.
“The Democrats at Yale are all fairly progressive,” he said, “but they are somewhat constrained by the Democratic Party machine in New Haven.”
Corson-Knowles cited environmentalism, development and energy policy as examples of issues on which the two parties differ. He noted that Gonzalez and other Democrats supported the ill-fated Galleria at Long Wharf mall — an initiative opposed by the Greens.
The Green Party is not the only one trying to find candidates to compete against the Democrats. Howard Clark ’01, chairman of the Yale College Republicans, sent an e-mail to campus Republicans Thursday asking interested aldermanic candidates to contact him. Clark said a potential candidate dropped out Thursday morning, leading the Republicans to look for alternatives.
The Green Party has been active throughout New Haven since a chapter was founded in 1996, said chapter coordinator Peter Ellner. He said two of the party’s biggest successes were protests against Governor John G. Rowland’s plan to build a football stadium in Hartford for the New England Patriots and New Haven’s plans for the Galleria at Long Wharf mall. Both projects failed.
Ellner said the party has also run candidates in local races in Connecticut. In 1999, a Green Party candidate defeated the Republican incumbent in an election for Hartford City Council, and Ellner said the party plans to run candidates in several New Haven aldermanic races this fall. He also said the party was searching for interested mayoral candidates.