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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Portland Greens: Competitive Elections are not Chaos


As chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee I am proud of the Green candidates who are running for office. I reject the negative direction the campaign has taken due to the large independent expenditures of some big-name Democrats. Further I disagree with the premise of his argument: Greens do not cause chaos, we help foster democracy and competition.

Portland Greens are a diverse group, and as such often do not agree among themselves. This can be seen in any given board where there is more than one Green. Councilors Kevin Donoghue and Dave Marshall do not simply vote in lockstep, they often disagree and are sometimes quite vocal about it. A perfect example of such was the resolution for impeachment of President George W. Bush- Dave Co-Sponsored the resolution (with Democrat Jill Duson) in what he thought was a proper venue to call for impeachment, Kevin voted nay due to his belief that the people of Portland should make this known through referendum rather than a resolution. This is natural and normal, disagreement is good, debate is better, and collaboration to consensus is best. Disagreement within a party only helps that party to address issues that are important, allows for more open and honest debate and will ultimately lead to better policy decisions than fear and party line voting will. Greens are not browbeaten when they take principled stands that other Greens disagree with.

This year’s crop of municipal Greens are focused on winning due to their ideas, their enthusiasm and their vision of Portland for the future. There is nothing wrong with pointing out your differences candidly; there is everything wrong with baseless smear ads. It is a sad day when the Democratic machine can find no positive way to support their candidates. I believe, and I’d wager that most Portlanders believe that negative campaigns hinder the democratic process and fail to further a positive discourse that is healthy for our city and in the best interest of Portland’s citizens.

Perhaps the least important argument I will make here is that These Greens do not cause chaos. Greens contribute to a relatively new phenomenon in Portland- competitive elections. If that is chaos to some, perhaps it is the best kind- democracy. Democrats have nothing to fear from an open and honest dialogue. If people like what they say they will win, if people don’t they will lose, but there will always be another election, this is a city with far more registered Democrats than Greens. People in Portland are voting for Greens because they want a school committee and a city council that is not just a political rubberstamp. Further, any policies that have been advocated by Greens here in Portland have had at least some support from Democrats. Why is this? Because Democrats have held a majority (a super-majority in most cases) on every elected board in the city! With military recruitment- Greens earned the support of Democrats, using metro busses for high school students- Democrats also supported it. Creation of a business diversity task force- Tri partisan support! In that case the two Council Greens formed a voting bloc with two Democrats and the lone Republican. Instead of calling this chaos this should be called a blueprint for making good public policy- inclusion of all political opinions to create the best ordinance that suits the most people.

Portland Greens: Bringing Portland Competitive Elections since 2001

Dan Jenkins


Portland Green Independent Committee

207 233 9476

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