Hoping to enable political viability with multi-pronged approach
by Rolf Maurer
While the Green Party is quite prominent in New Haven and elsewhere in Connecticut, Stamford, located in Fairfield County, because of its status as a corporate center and its intimate ties to Manhattan’s financial community, produces voters who tend to go with what is tried (if not true) when considering their options.
This learned helplessness succeeds only in the perpetuation of well-financed favoritism at public expense as the political norm, with election outcomes limited to Democrats or Republicans as little more than fait accomplis.
By permeating the local political scene with several Greens running at once for different government offices – Constables (Mary Farrell, Rolf Maurer, David Bedell), Board of Representatives (Ted Hanser, Mary Farrell, David Bedell), Board of Education (Megan Cassano), as well as Mayor (Rolf Maurer), it is hoped such a multi-pronged strategy will enhance the political viability of Greens as a constructive alternative to the status quo.
Chapter Secretary David Bedell, a Justice of the Peace, who is running for two positions this year and has run for other positions in the past, commented, “We want to continue increasing the number of offices to which we have ballot access, while providing voters a Green option in as many races as possible. Even with limited resources, we can do this through a combination of placeholder candidates and active campaigns.”
The platform collectively emphasizes support for enhanced mass transit (including light rail and more buses on more routes) and a bicycle-friendly infrastructure, through adoption of Safe Routes to School’s bikeways and traffic-calming practices in the vicinity of public schools, as well as training in the responsible use of bicycles as vehicles, just as with autos. In particular, students of driving age could be encouraged to participate by having high school student parking repurposed into parks, or even pilot community gardens.
The three candidates for constable, a position whose duties mainly consist of serving legal papers, have pledged to perform their tasks year round using bicycles or mass transit. All three have already eliminated the use of automobiles in their personal lives.
Concerning community gardens, a major component of promoting environmental/agricultural sustainability is the conversion of unused downtown spaces, such as the “hole” adjacent to the Stamford Town Center (STC) mall, as proof-of-concept community gardens to encourage people to plant more throughout town.
A private/public partnership with the STC to lease part of the mall for exclusive use by local businesses would boost the local economy by keeping more dollars circulating in Stamford. While a private/public partnership already exists in the form of the Downtown Special Services District, expanding its commerce-building activities beyond the Bedford Street environs would benefit the whole of Stamford, by nurturing the evolution of several adjoining retail and cultural hubs. Like local agriculture, the incremental adoption of local currency, in the form of notes, or time bartering, already in place in Willimantic and New Haven, would strengthen social bonds among Stamfordites, while further softening the blow in the event of catastrophic economic collapse.
In addition to emphasizing community gardens and a pedestrian and bicycle friendly city, Thaddeus Hauser, a candidate for the city board of representatives, has a platform which notes the need to clean up toxic landfills in residential areas and the importance of creating jobs by supporting local businesses rather than giving tax breaks to large outside corporations, which will frequently relocate for a better tax break.
Megan Cassano, candidate for the Board of Education, is a licensed clinical social worker and also teaches at area colleges. Having a passion for education, she is emphasizing every child is given opportunities to achieve and that those with behavior problems should not be simply pigeonholed into categories such as hyperactive. She believes a "whole-istic" approach needs to be taken, examining all aspects of a child’s life to determine why there are behavior problems and addressing those problems.
Elsewhere in Fairfield County, Greens are running for other Constable positions. In New Canaan Hector Lopez, a two-term incumbent, is joined on the ballot by his daughter, Estela Lopez, and Cole Stangler, while in Redding is Leif Smith, who is also a Justice of the Peace.
Greens in Fairfield County, and most especially Stamford, are demonstrating several methods to start building the party as a political entity by running candidates for offices in which there is not a lot of prestige, but a lot of work, such as constable or school board, and by running both active and placeholder candidates, giving Green voting options and making the party more visible.
Rolf Maurer works in trade and directory publishing and is running simultaneously for mayor and constable.