John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
January 24, 2024
PHILADELPHIA — The sounds of the Market-Frankford train above made the Zoom presentations difficult to hear, and the start of the event was delayed by 40 minutes due to a bevy of technical issues. But four Green Party candidates persevered at a forum in Philadelphia on Tuesday, giving their pitches for why they should represent the environmentally conscious political party.
The candidates met at the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) office on Kensington Avenue, and all four mostly agreed on hot button issues like addressing climate change, affordable housing, and criminal justice matters.
DaShaun “Davi” Davis of New York, a former candidate for that city’s mayor, opened with a song, and described his plan as an “American Refresh” and touted his “Earth Order” agenda.
Jorge Zavala of California, who is visually impaired, joined the program via Zoom, and asserted he was not a politician, but a businessman. North Carolina resident Jasmine Sherman, said their platform provided a clear path to victory for the Green Party: “Provide everyone with their basic human needs. Housing, healthcare, education, and universal basic income.”
Perhaps the biggest name in the Green Party, 2016 and 2012 candidate Jill Stein, is again seeking the party’s nomination. She said she believes this is “an unprecedented opportunity” for the Green Party to fulfill its agenda.
“I’m running to put a pro-worker, anti-war, anti-genocide, climate emergency campaign front and center in this election and on the ballot in every state across the country,” Stein said via Zoom.
Three Green Party Inspectors of Election moderated the event, which was also live-streamed on their social media accounts and included ASL interpreters. Questions were also submitted by those within the organization and unhoused Philadelphians.
The candidates agreed that climate change needs to be front and center for a president from the Green Party.
Stein said that on day one of the presidency, she would declare a climate emergency and claimed President Joe Biden’s support for liquified natural gas plants “makes Donald Trump look like a climate activist.”
Zavala detailed his support for green technology, as Sherman discussed their support for creating green jobs, and Davi talked about improving the quality of air in the United States as a priority.
All of the candidates agreed that rents are too high and affordable housing should be a main focus.
“I’m going to end houselessness in 91 days,” Sherman said, adding that they believe housing should be free. “A vote for Sherman is a vote for no more landlords and no more mortgages.”
Davi said that people can “opt-out of capitalism and enroll” in his Earth Order plan, which addresses housing. “This is the opportunity we have to make homelessness an option,” he said, adding that the government should ensure there is quality housing available to those who need it.
Stein said there’s a “housing emergency” in the U.S. and affordable housing is guaranteed in her “Economic Bill of Rights.” She said there’s enough vacant housing to address the issue. Rent control and a “Tenants Bill of Rights” are also needed, Stein said.
Zavala talked about making sure money goes back to the renters and the economic impact that homelessness is having on the nation’s economy.
Candidates were also asked about their plans to address the issues of the carceral state and those returning from prison.
Sherman said that they support abolishing prisons and creating a house arrest system and encouraged those to see the campaign website’s plan on abolishing the police.
Stein said it was imperative to end the war on drugs, and end mandatory minimum sentences and cash bail. Zavala stressed education in the prison system and Davi said his plan will help those returning from prison reintegrate into society.
While technical problems persisted throughout the evening, Green Party officials used it as an opportunity to seek donations.
“As Jasmine says, offer more support to us and we can make this work better,” said Green Party of Philadelphia Chair Belinda Davis.
Cheri Honkola, 2012 Green Party vice presidential nominee, highlighted the area where the forum was held, for those who are not be familiar with Kensington.
“If you Google Kensington from around the country, our neighborhood can pretty much be described as Hell or Gotham,” she said. “A lot of people are not impacted until they actually come and walk the streets around here.”
She likened the outdoor drug market that persists in the neighborhood as similar to the war zone in Gaza. Despite the high rates of opioid overdoses in the area, “there’s really no plan in sight to address these issues,” Honkola said.
The Green Party’s most recent attempts to get a presidential candidate on the Pennsylvania ballot also suffered from some technical issues.
Howie Hawkins, who earned the presidential nomination by the Green Party to run in 2020, was not on the ballot in Pennsylvania after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the candidate did not follow the proper procedures to appear on the ballot, a decision that was viewed as a victory for Democrats.
In 2016, Stein tallied 48,912 votes in Pennsylvania, which was 0.8% of the vote. Stein finished in fourth place in the Keystone State, trailing Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Although the vote total for third party candidates was not high in the 2016 election, pundits believe it may have played a role in determining the winner in several swing states, while some analysts view them as the wild card for the 2024 presidential election.
A vote by the Green Party National Committee determined that the 2024 convention to select its candidate will be virtual.
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