The Green Party is getting official in Utah

by Rhett Wilkinson

At its late-April meeting at Mestizo’s Coffeehouse, a Salt Lake City location meant to be an incubator for social action, 17 individuals, many of whom had just marched about climate change or immigration, were there to vote on bylaws, second nominations and generally lay the groundwork for the party’s formation in advance of its convention. That is set for 1 to 4 p.m. June 24 at The Acoustic Space, where the party promises the election of new officers, a silent auction, guest speakers reportedly including 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein, a live DJ and nominate candidates for the 2018 ballot, which include state and federal seats.

One of those candidates is Abrian Velarde, a native of Salt Lake County and “seventh-generation Giants fan” — he was wearing a jersey — who lived in Brooklyn during 9/11. He said he was going to start campaigning in May for the Utah Senate District 12 seat before officially filing in March.

Velarde said he was upset that nobody has engaged 14,000 voters in the district that could be 65,000.

“Democracy is supposed to be more than two wolves and a sheep voting for what to have for dinner,” he said.

Kim Murphy helped Stein get the 2,000 signatures she needed to get on the ballot in Utah. She also raised funds and canvassed her neighborhood for Bernie Sanders. A vocal participant in the meeting, she is helping the party get 3,000 signatures, as she did during the climate march that same day, to become official, as she estimates 30 percent will not be able to count, she said. When asked about folks’ reservations about the party because of its reputation for being socialist, she said it was more “eco-socialist.”

Brendan Hobbz Phillips was the statewide coordinator of the get-Stein-on-the-ballot initiative and gathered party signatures at the Town Hall for All. Early in the meeting, he was clear: for the marketing committee, “we need people,” he said.

“We need people promoting ourselves, marketing ourselves,” he added. “That is going to mean promoting our convention.” It’s a convention that was moved back two weeks to allow for Stein to appear.

Phillips put forth a call for service on one of the national party’s 21 working committees. Eight nominations ensued, all passing, within seconds.

“We’re all so damn agreeable here,” Murphy responded.

Where they weren’t: when a debate ensued over a resolution requiring 51 or 67 percent of party delegates’ votes to allow for a grassroots coordinator position.

Going into the meeting, two folks had submitted for offices. By the end of the gathering, two hands raised in response to a call for last-minute filings, aside from those that occurred in the meantime. Leaving, there were two candidates for party chair, two for secretary and five for national delegate.

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