Saturday, October 07, 2006

Interview: Alison Duncan, Green Party Candidate for Lt. Governor

Empty Closet interview! Pick one up this October.

1 comment:

Jason Nabewaniec said...

the link wasn't working. -jason

The Empty Closet: Interview with Alison Duncan, Green Party Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of New York

Written by Susan Jordan
Monday, 02 October 2006

Empty Closet: Why did you become involved with the Green Party and then decide to run for Lt. Governor of NY?

Alison Duncan: I became involved with the Green Party because of the principles it stands for. It’s important to me to support a political movement that is feminist and committed to non-violence and social and economic justice, and environmental sustainability. I was just a registered Green for several years before I saw a notice for a statewide meeting and decided to attend. I had a great two days sitting in on meeting, attending workshops. After meeting many local Greens, I decided that this was a place where I could put my time and talents to good use. I became involved with the Green Party Office in Manhattan, was elected treasurer, and did a lot of work on the “A Green World is Possible” festival during the Republican National Convention, which brought local organizations, artist musicians and Green candidates from across the country. I decided to run for Lt. Governor after being asked by several activists in the party who promised to work on the campaign if I would accept the nomination. I was honored to be asked. I think that I bring a number of strengths to my candidacy. I have a long history as an activist working on LGBT rights and environmental campaigns. In the last few years I have found a good vocation in service activism. I serve as a volunteer rape crisis advocate, a hospital volunteer, a homeless shelter volunteer, a street medic, a mediator, a facilitator of workshops on managing stress and avoiding burnout, a teacher of technical trades to women, and a delegate and activist in my union. I am also a good candidate for statewide office because I grew up in Schenectady and now I live in New York City. The tri-city area is as much home to me as the tri-state area. As the Lt. Governor candidate, I bring a unique perspective of having one foot firmly planted in the city, and one that will never leave upstate. Running for office has been very rewarding. For me, one reward is being a connection point for the many different communities I belong to. For years I have been struggling to introduce LGBT folk to the Green Party, green activists to union activists, students to workers, artists to scientists. This June, every member of our state wide slate and several Greens from across the state and the country joined me to march in the Trans Justice march, the Dyke March and the Pride march the Pride march and festival in New Paltz and the Rochester Streets of Pride Parade. . It was a great experience for me to see Greens and LGBT folk learning about each other and sharing in a community celebration. This labor day, green activists joined me to march with workers in the New York City Labor Day parade. I am the youngest candidate in this gubernatorial race. I am also the only woman and the only openly gay candidate. I hope that my candidacy will be a focus for some discussion of women’s equality and LGBT rights in the state.

EC: What are your views on legalization of marriage for same-sex couples?

AD: It is unconscionable for New York to discriminate against a class of citizens on the basis of gender. The original Domestic Relations law in New York State does not discriminate by gender. Eliot Spitzer should never have prosecuted Green Party Mayor and Deputy Mayor Jason West and Rebecca Rotzler for marrying same-sex couples. On the contrary, he should be prosecuting town clerks who are discriminating against same-sex couples when they refuse to issue marriage licenses.

EC: What is your response to the frequent objection that a vote for third parties is a wasted vote, and just hands over elections to the Republicans?

AD: A wasted vote is a vote for a candidate who is taking his victory for granted. The only way that Malachy McCourt and I could spoil this election for Eliot Spitzer is if we were to win. Voters who want to send a clear signal that they support renewable energy, civil rights, dropping the Rockefeller Drug Laws, universal single-payer health care, housing as a human right and who want New York to divest from the war and bring our National Guard home should vote for the Malachy McCourt/Alison Duncan ticket. A Green vote for governor is especially valuable in this election because we need at least 50,000 votes to regain our ballot status. Ballot status will give the Green Party much more opportunity to grow and to be elected into local offices. It will also give New Yorkers more choice on the ballot.

EC: What should voters know about you personally? Where is your hometown and where do you live now? What is your profession?

AD: I grew up in Schenectady, NY. I live, now, in New York City, in the East Village. I am a union audiovisual technician at a mid-town hotel. I am a delegate in my union. I volunteer in the rape crisis program and child psychiatric unit at St. Vincent’s hospital in Manhattan. I also volunteer in a lab at City College, a lab at Albert Einstein and in my church’s homeless shelter. Before I started the Lt. Governor campaign I volunteered with the Green Party organizing events, helping local candidates, speaking to groups and teaching workshops for activists on managing stress and avoiding burnout.
Working to fight homophobia was formative for me as an activist. When I was in high school I co-authored an article entitle “Homosexuality in the High School” for my school newspaper. At the time I didn’t know that I was gay, but I knew that my school was not safe and that homophobia had to be confronted. I came out to myself in the course of researching the article. Once the article hit publication, it was a catalyst for change in the high school. I became an opinion editor on the paper where I wrote, solicited and published articles on lesbian and gay rights. Through SPIF, I organized larger and larger discussions on homophobia and lesbian and gay rights. Visibility, Niskayuna’s Gay Strait Alliance, had its first meeting weeks before I graduated. Now it is a thriving club. There is a lot of work to do in our community to ensure the health and safety of our kids, the well-
being of our seniors, the rights of our families, but I hang on to that early experience in high school to remind myself that slow and steady, righteous work catalyzes change.

EC: Have you spent much time in upstate New York?

AD: I lived in Schenectady from when I was four years old to 18 and my parents still live in the same house. I return home frequently to visit my family. Every summer I visit friends in Keene Valley (in the Adirondacks). I have campaigned in Rochester and Albany. I am planning campaign events in Syracuse, Cortland, Ithaca, Buffalo, Saratoga and Glens Falls, as well as return trips to the Capital District and to Rochester.

EC: How would New York be different if the state were run by a Green Party governor?

AD: If the state were run by a Green Party governor, we would be implementing existing technology for safe, clean, renewable energy and investing in the development of new technology. The vast resources of New York State would be invested in building our infrastructure and amply meeting the health care, education, housing and public safety needs of all New Yorkers — creating jobs and sustainable economic development. Our criminal justice system would be reformed from a racist, slave labor industry that is focused on punishing convicted criminals, their families and their communities to a system of restorative justice that is focused on public safety, preventing violence inside and outside of prisons, and using education, cognitive behavioral treatment, substance abuse treatment and peer coaching to prevent recidivism and help convicted criminals balance their debt to society. New Yorkers would have universal, single-payer health care. LGBT folk would have the same civil rights as all other New Yorkers. Our children would have an educational system where schools are fully funded, teachers are compensated fairly and students have adequate resources to acquire essential skills — especially reading — and that gives all students access to after school programs, safe places for students to be mentored, tutored and to do homework. EC: Is there anything you would like to add? AD: I had a great time marching in Rochester Streets of Pride Parade and meeting so many wonderful people in Rochester at the parade and the Public Market. I am looking forward to meeting more people on my return visit at the end of October.