Green Party hoping to increase Berkeley presence in upcoming months

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Within Berkeley’s historically active and progressive political scene, local members of the Green Party are hoping to amplify their voice and influence in the upcoming 2020 elections.

Local Green Party voters are represented through members of Berkeley’s branch of the Green Party of Alameda County, Berkeley Greens. Although Berkeley Greens is no longer independently active, its members attend countywide meetings, according to Green Party of Alameda County Councilor and campus research physicist James McFadden.

“At this point, the Berkeley Greens are a list of people,” McFadden said. “If you send an email to that list a few of them will volunteer for an event here or there.”

In an attempt to better represent UC Berkeley and city communities, Aidan Hill — who represents Berkeley in the Green Party of Alameda County and serves as Berkeley Homeless Commissioner — has worked with environmental departments and campus organizations to gain student perspectives.

According to Hill, the main values of the Green Party include grassroots democracy, empowering neighborhoods, social justice and equal opportunity, indigenous wisdom to protect green spaces and nonviolence.

Since the 1990s, however, the party has primarily focused on LGBTQ+ rights, and anti-war and anti-racism efforts, according to Hill.

In an effort to promote Green Party ideals, Hill added that they are exploring a mayoral candidacy for the upcoming 2020 elections.

“I feel like marginalized communities are not being represented in the current city government,” Hill said. “I could represent Berkeley because I listen to Berkeleyans.”

According to McFadden, the Green Party primarily influences the Berkeley community through the Green Voter Guide, which is published by the Green Party of Alameda County. McFadden added that the guide analyzes local, state and federal candidates, and gives recommendations on which candidates and propositions to vote for.

Over 10,000 guides are produced for each election, according to McFadden. Members of the Green Party of Alameda County spread the guide by flyering and distributing at local cafés, BART stations and other locations.

Laura Wells, who was a candidate for U.S. Representative in 2018 and for California governor in 2010, has been a member of the Green Party since it gained ballot access in 1992. She said the Green Party also spreads its ideas by running candidates for office.

“I’ve begun to think of the Green Party as a progressive think-tank,” Wells said. “We can get those ideas out there whether or not we’re elected.”

While the Green Party student organization at UC Berkeley is currently inactive, Hill said that if students were given the ability to engage with the Green Party, there would be an audience.

According to Hill, two options for political parties is not enough.

“If we’re going to hold space for one political party, we should have active efforts to recruit people from different parties,” Hill said.

Previously a Democrat, McFadden said he switched to the Green Party in 2011 after becoming “disillusioned” with former president Barack Obama. In addition to believing that Obama did not follow through on campaign promises, McFadden said that he identifies with Green Party platforms.

According to McFadden, the Green Party of Alameda County hopes to recruit members after the California Democratic primary election in March. McFadden added that those who are unhappy with the Democratic nominee may switch to the Green Party.

“We have to sort of gear up,” McFadden said. “I’m hoping we’ll set up tables on campus once a week on Sproul Plaza. That would be one way to engage with people and talk to them about why the Greens are different.”

Contact Maya Akkaraju at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.