November 18, 2002
The elections are over and the Bush administration has gained more control
of government, people and ideas. This mid-term election has set records
for Republicans and galvanized the assault on peace, justice and human
rights everywhere. I suppose many people reading this are feeling
distraught, some are angry, a few have given up all hope.
To all of you downtrodden I bring good tidings from Arcata, California; a place where hope for peace and justice is brighter than ever before.
I'll preface this good news with an explanation of who we are, of our great sense of community. We are a people realizing our communal identity through acceptance of each other and recognition of the concerns we all share. Like most people on Earth we want justice and peace, but we are willing to do whatever we can to bring our hope into being. We are citizens who recognize our civic responsibilities. Our souls breathe the clean air of democracy.
We have some history. The first Green Party candidate elected to office in the state of California was Bob Ornelas, in 1990, to the Arcata City Council. Mr. Ornelas is now serving his third term and is the first Green anywhere to do so. We had the first Green Party majority on a City Council in 1996, so the Democrats and Republicans know that Greens can organize, win, and will if their views are not represented. Folks here are not afraid to think big, express themselves, and work hard for little or no monetary compensation. We have a whole community of volunteers.
This election cycle we had two open seats on our city council with one incumbent running for re-election. Jim Test is what you would call a progressive Democrat with two terms of good work and fine leadership. He was not re-elected. Instead, voters picked Elizabeth Connor, a Democrat who favors decriminalization of all drugs and education for health concerns through the Health Department, not the Police Department. She is also quite experienced in our City government, having served on our General Plan update task force and on the Planning Commission. Local activist and Green Party member David Meserve, chairperson of the City's Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission, was also elected to the Council just a couple of weeks after introducing the following proclamation and organizing for its adoption:
The City of Arcata's Proclamation In Opposition to Military Action Against Iraq
WHEREAS, the ultimate security of the United States is dependent on creating the conditions of life for all nations, working together cooperatively, that will eliminate poverty, injustice, inequality, environmental degradation, and other factors that breed war and terrorism; and
WHEREAS, any further military action would only inflict greater injury upon innocent people, mostly civilians, already suffering from unrelenting bombing and sanctions imposed over the last eleven years, and would certainly destroy that country's already severely damaged infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, the Arcata City Council has the deepest respect for those who are willing to risk their lives to protect the United States, but believes further military action against Iraq will place the lives of U.S. citizens and military personnel in jeopardy, resulting in unnecessary death and injury to them; and
WHEREAS, the twelve years of non-military sanctions against Iraq have resulted in the death of more than 500,000 children under the age of five due to inadequate water, food and medicine, according to UNICEF and other international relief organizations; and
WHEREAS, there is a spirited debate on the possibility of a war with Iraq and there is a wide range of opinions in Arcata about the advisability and likely consequences of war with Iraq; and
WHEREAS, the Arcata City Council has held a town hall meeting in which citizens overwhelmingly asked the City Council to pass a proclamation opposed to a war with Iraq; and
WHEREAS, the City Council cannot speak for all residents but has been asked by many residents of Arcata to speak out on this momentous issue facing our nation; and
WHEREAS, the citizens of Arcata and its local elected officials have the constitutional right to petition the national government on this matter of grave concern to our community as part of the national and international debate now underway; and
WHEREAS, two of our Congressional representatives--Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mike Thompson--have courageously spoken out against war on Iraq.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED that the City Council of the City of Arcata:
HEREBY expresses our opposition to military action against the nation of Iraq; and
HEREBY urges the Bush administration and our federal representatives to actively support United Nations' diplomatic efforts to support and encourage democracy and respect for human rights in Iraq.
BE IT FURTHER PROCLAIMED that the City of Arcata urges U.S. elected officials to pursue domestic policies which promote the uses of energy which will not require the need for war.
We did have a couple of "conservatives" running for the two open council seats but when they were asked at one of our many forums if they would have voted against the proclamation, they declined. Our community is quite resolute in its opposition to military action in Iraq. There are nearly one hundred Women In Black on the town's central plaza each Friday afternoon and evening. Veterans For Peace joins them on a different corner, and numerous other activists with signs and puppets occupy another. It is a stunning sight.
Counting votes for Elizabeth Conner, Dave Meserve and Jim Test, progressive candidates received more than double those received by conservative candidates Carl Pellatz and Cynthia Savage.
There was one open seat on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors this election. It was won by a progressive woman named Jill Geist who overcame tough odds in a district that has been pro-development and conservative. She won a decisive victory and will join two other progressive Democrats on the five-seat county board.
Our State Assemblywoman, Virginia Strom-Martin, was term-limited out and replaced with another progressive woman, Patty Berg. Green Party candidate Doug Thron, who never really got his campaign off and running, opposed Berg. She will be very strong for education, health care and senior care legislation, and protection of the environment; she knows the Greens are watching.
Our former Arcata City Councilperson and incumbent State Senator, Wesley Chesbro, was re-elected with an overwhelming vote of confidence, more than 62% of the vote. He is a progressive Democrat and is very active on committees in health and human services, as well as the budget.
You have probably heard of our U.S. Congressman, Mike Thompson, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He traveled to Baghdad with Reps. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and David Bonior (D-MI) and met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. Thompson voted against Bush's invasion plans and has represented us well. On October 2, Thompson dumped 500 pounds of dead salmon onto the steps of the Department of Interior in protest of the death of 400,000 salmon in the Klamath River this autumn. The salmon kill was a result of water diversion to the Central Valley that was supported, in person, by Secretary Norton. Congressman Thompson garnered more than 65% of the vote in Humboldt County.
It is interesting to note that of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives who voted against the war and were running again in yesterday's election, 110 won and 2 lost. In other words, 98% of the members who voted against the war won.
The Green Party's candidate for Governor, Peter Camejo, did well here, despite lack of visibility. He gathered nearly 12% of the Humboldt vote and turned Republican Bill Simon into a third party candidate in San Francisco. That is an important indication that the Greens have a solid base of influence in California, even at the state-level offices.
There is this rule of thumb for voting: always vote for the person who is, in your mind, the most qualified. If none of the candidates are qualified vote for a Green, if one is running, even if they have little experience. Green votes always count.
You may be wondering how we accomplished this impressive election.
We used the media. We used our public access television station to inform and motivate the local populace. We held numerous candidate forums and televised them. We called our community radio stations and wrote letters to our local newspapers. Some people took leaflets door to door for candidates. We forced issues into the election and kept it friendly. We made this election count and our voices are stronger, our dedication more intense, and our resolve unbreakable.
We proclaimed to the world that George W. Bush could not cow us or intimidate us or frighten us.
Moreover, we will not stop here.
· · · · · ·
Congressman Mike Thompson
State Senator Wes Chesbro
Assemblywoman Elect Patty Berg
County Supervisor Elect Jill Geist
Women In Black
Veterans For Peace
Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission
Calendar of Demonstrations
Pledge of Allegiance
Michael W. Stowell is chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Arcata Library in Arcata, CA. He is the producer/editor/videographer of numerous public access television programs; he is a naturalist, a gardener, a bicyclist and a Swans' columnist.
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This Week's Internal Links
In Memoriam: Cambodia-Kampuchea - by Milo Clark
Not Convinced Yet? Then Check The Color Of Hope - by Gilles d'Aymery
I Vote. Therefore I Think. Therefore I Am. - by Eli Beckerman
Can The Peace Movement Save Us? - by Deck Deckert
Evolution Through Catastrophy? - by Milo Clark
A Trip To Sanity: Arcata - by Gilles d'Aymery
When The Moral Compass Starts Spinning - by Aleksandra Priestfield
"Antisemitism" As A Tool Of Israeli Ethnic Cleansing - by Edward S. Herman
Can't Stop The Dancing - Poem by Sandy Lulay
When The Imagination Of The Writer
Is Confronted By The Imagination Of the State - Book Excerpt by Margaret Randall
Letters to the Editor
Michael Stowell on Swans
Essays published in 2002 | 2001
Barbarians of Our Own Dark Ages? Debunking the Myth Behind the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (December 2000)