Friday, March 30, 2007

Mayor Jason West to Run for Re-election














I remember the first time I heard of Jason West, it was April of 2003. I got an email forwarded on from a friend in our local Green Party, it said that in New Paltz, New York, a slate of Greens were running for Village office. They had the school behind them, and they are going to at least make it interesting, did anyone what to come down and help? I don't think anyone made the 4 hour drive from Rochester to help out that final weekend, we we're very busy working on a City School Board and City Council race. Besides, College students rarely show up to vote in May elections. I didn't really think about it again. Well, at least not until I got the next email. The email that said they won, they all won. A Green will be a mayor in New York! Greens got elected. Now, I am fairly optimistic but I figured it would be a while before we started winning even the small races.

This idea of elected officials was a new idea to us. I thought we could and should be winning small races, I just didn't expect us to be winning anytime soon. Oddly enough, 5 months later I was expecting us to win a seat on the City Council. Dare to hope.

At our next canvassing effort, we probably had about 30 volunteers in an abandoned parking lot. Our candidate for City Council held up a newspaper with that famous picture of Jason, Rebecca, and Julia leaning on the fence. He said what makes this picture so special, and so amazing, is these 3 Greens are elected officials, these Greens won an election in New York. The whole Green electoral landscape in Rochester really changed shape at that moment. People believed that we could find small races and win them.


Since then, one Green has been elected to a School Board in a Rochester suburb, and Green campaigns, candidate recruitment, strategy, and race selection have dramatically improved. Our size still limits our options, but we are moving forward, and we will be successful. We will find those special candidates and run in the right races, we will wear out our shoes but we will do so knowing it was worth it. Jason West gave us that.


In the weeks following the New Paltz victories, we heard stories, possibly tall tales, of the old guard, the Democrats, and the media freaking out about what a Green Mayor would do to their wonderful Village over the next four years. To be fair, not all of them thought he would last four years, or even a year. We heard the inaugural celebration included solar powered speakers, vegan/organic snacks, and of course, puppets! We heard the joy and celebration amongst Greens and the fear amongst the Democrats.

Then we heard about the really good stuff. The new Village Board changed the practices that were polluting their river. They added solar panels to the Village Hall. They worked on a strategic plan to preserve open space and implement affordable housing. They took on environmental responsibility and economic sustainability when they challenged the old guard's practice of trucking their sewage 250 miles away to landfill in Waterloo, NY, and began work on the first of three sewage reed beds for the Village waste.

More doors opened for the Green Party. Not only could Greens win, they could govern. The Village of New Paltz gave Greens the chance to prove it, and they sure did.


Julia Walsh was never registered in the Green Party, and became a Democrat. She allowed her participation on the Village Board to fade a bit after her non-profit organization was founded.

Mayor Jason West, and Deputy Mayor Rebecca Rotlzer held onto their values as the Democratic Party tried to tempt them away. Jason and Rebecca are two of the most important Greens in the country, and have both played critical roles in the advancement of our party.

Less than one year into their first term in a crowed Village park, Mayor Jason West solemnized the marriage of two of his best friends. Jason presided over 11 more same-sex marriages that day. When Jason was arrested, Rebecca Rotlzer took over and married an additional dozen same-sex couples. Local Clergy took over when injunctions were filed, prohibiting the elected officials from performing additional ceremonies.


I watched the events live on CNN, I was so proud of Jason and Rebecca, I was so proud to be a Green. They showed every Democrat and every politician that there is a difference between saying you support something, and actually supporting something. For many people, that difference allowed their lives to change forever.


At that time Governor Eliot Spitzer was the New York State Attorney General and he chose to stand against Mayor Jason West. It was also Eliot Spitzer who decided same-sex marriages were against the New York State Constitution. Eliot Spitzer felt he was protecting the people of New York State by going after Mayor West. Two years later, Spitzer would secure the Pride Agenda endorsement and go on to win the gubernatorial election. Remember that name, he'll run for President some day.


Contrary to media spin and the Democratic Party, same-sex marriages are not forbidden in the New York State Constitution. However, you do need a valid marriage license and the State only prints applications with a male and a female entry. Eliot Spitzer isn't planning on changing the application.

A couple of years ago, a professor of mine was doing research on reed bed technology and he found an article about Jason, Rebecca and Julia prior to their election. The article listed four things they wanted to do.


1. Renewable Energy on Village Buildings.
2. Affordable Housing in the Village.
3. Reed Bed Sewage Treatment.
4. Support Same-Sex Couples in the right to Marriage.

I was surprised to see number four in the article, I didn't know they campaigned on that. They didn't think they where empowered to marry same-sex couples when they where elected, but they did support equal rights.


My professor read the article out load and said "Wow, imagine if they actually did all of that".

I smiled and said "They did."

How many elected officials have you seen make good on their top four campaign pledges in their first two years in office? How many elected officials have made campaign pledges that where this ambitious?


Jason and Rebecca showed the people that there is an alternative solution. Democrats consistently say they support the issues of the people, while making the claim that they are not empowered to really make change happen. Politicians always say they are fighting for the people, but they never look like they have really been fighting for anything. In New Paltz, a few committed people changed the world.


The Democrats don't want the people to know that change is attainable. They don't want people to know that they really do have the power to change their community. The success of Jason West threatens the power structure enjoyed by the Democrats. Mayor West is breaking up a monopoly in New York.

Rebecca is now a Co-Chair of the Green Party of the United States, and is finishing up her term as a Village Trustee. Neither Julia nor Rebecca are running for re-election. No other Greens within the small Village felt they could serve, leaving Jason West along to run with two non-Green running mates.


The Democrats are running two party insiders, two members of that old guard.
One is an elected official looking to change job titles to get Jason West
out of office; the other, an appointed government official. Jason has championed the issues of the people and won the support of the Villagers. The Democrats were left with only one strategy: co-opt Jason's platform and claim that the Democrats also support the issues of the people, just like Eliot Spitzer.

Jason has altered the political landscape of his Village that much.

We now have a situation where someone has proven to champion and enact this platform and is running for re-election. His opponent has not enacted or championed these efforts in the past but is now taking credit for the change and promising more change. Jason's opponent is also using big money and big donations to bring this false packaging to newer students who where not around for the last 4 years.

Jason's opponent even has a volunteer button on his website that is labeled "Real Greens Click Here."


Election Day is May 1st. Jason needs your help. The New Paltz Greens can not compete with big money politics. Jason needs money to host events and more canvassing materials. Jason needs help getting his website up and running and could use a professional team working on this aspect. Jason needs to print more materials for his campus voter registration drive. Jason needs to host meetings to draw endorsements from additional Labor and LGBT groups. Jason needs prominent Greens and activists to write endorsements and to visit New Paltz this month to help rally support. Please consider sending in a check and hosting a Jason West house party to raise funds from your local Greens (don't forget Jason's book "Dare to Hope" is available on GP.org and
it makes a great tool for house parties)
.



Checks can be sent to
"Friends of Jason West,
c/o Warren T. Shanahan,
136 North Chestnut Street, Apt. 8D,
New Paltz, NY 12561

Your donations are greatly appreciated. Please help New Paltz keep Mayor Jason West, please help the Green Party keep hope.

7 comments:

Jason Nabewaniec said...

Mayor West Calls for 15% Tax Cut

Mayor Jason West

New Paltz village residents will see their property taxes slashed by fifteen percent under the 2007-2008 budget proposed by Mayor Jason West. And yet, services will continue at their current high level and the village infrastructure continue the steady improvement that has marked the last four years.

"I have been able to craft a budget that not only continues delivering high quality of life, but allows village residents to reduce their tax bill," said West. "This is the result of four years of sound fiscal management and this budget maintains my commitment to a strong financial foundation the village can continue to build upon."

West said the budget allows the village to continue making progress improving efficiency and services, use smart planning to alleviate long standing infrastructure issues, and move forward with a commitment to environmental policies that are steadily moving the village toward a more sustainable footing.

With the tax cut, the village of New Paltz is almost unique in the Hudson Valley, where town, school and county taxes steadily rise.

The tax cut is part of a series of strong policy and financial initiatives undertaken by Mayor West since he took office in 2003. These policies include shifting the financing of $2.2 million in water system improvements from USDA loans to serial bonds after a drop in interest rates, a move predicted to save taxpayers nearly $1.5 million in interest payments alone.

Since elected Mayor West's administration has accomplished:

* Built the first phase of a reed bed system to turn our sewage into compost rather than mix it with toxic chemicals and ship it to landfills. We plan to expand our program to deal with almost 90% of our sewage on-site with the reeds, at an estimated cost savings of $30,000 per year.
* Installed a solar panel array on the public works garage which has generated 15,333 kW of electricity, saved taxpayers $2,299 and has kept 16,743 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
* Are looking into building a 500,000 gallon per year biodiesel fuel facility which could supply every public works truck, fire truck and school bus with a non-toxic, biodegradable fuel with 80% fewer emissions, while generating thousands of dollars in revenue each year.
* Commissioned two studies of wetlands and watercourse in the Village. Based on those studies, and the work done in the Town, we have just recently finished writing a pair of laws that will protect wetlands and watercourses; one law defining what is protected and how, and a second creating an overlay district which precisely maps which properties may have wetlands or watercourse on them.
* Fought hard for student, youth, women's and human rights, establishing committees to improve landlord-tenant relations, a Youth Commission, anti-war actions, support of pro-choice events and performing the only same-sex marriages to ever occur in New York State. We continue to engage an anti-racist, anti-hate ideology after facing bigoted protests and neo-Nazi activity. We continue to work towards social justice and equality as we discuss legislation to extend protections to transgendered people facing harassment in the community.
* Presented a budget to the village board that cuts taxes for the second year in a row - an 8% cut last year, and a 15% cut this year. When the first draft of the budget was finished, it came with a 22% tax cut; a cut both the Village Treasurer and myself were uncomfortable with, due to the sometimes volatile nature of municipal budgets when unfunded mandates come down from the state, or when health care costs skyrocket. The 15% is a conservative tax cut, one that leaves us with enough money in reserve to meet unexpected costs, while at the same time allowing us money to set aside to leverage into more money through aggressive pursuit of grant funding.

Jason is running for reelection May 1, 2007 and you can access his web page at: http://www.jasonwest.org

Bob said...

The greens can't compete with big money politics? Well, they don't have to. West's opponent is a longtime local with no big money support. The problem with the Greens is their whole shtick is built on being an opposition power. When they are in power and have the advantage of incumbency, they still have to rely on the canard that their opponents are naturally more powerful and wealthy. But that's not true. Good luck trying to stick it to the man when your guy IS the man.

Dave said...

Hey Bob,

Check out Jason's comment. West has cut taxes TWICE since he's been in office. CUT taxes. He's made the government more efficient, bureaucratically and environmentally. If he's "the man" then that's what "the man" is supposed to do.

I mean, THAT'S your complaint about a Green in office. Pretty weak. You call it a schtick...this is someone who is getting done what he promised to do. No excuses.

Bob said...

Jason West is employing the same divisive political tactics that Greens claim to abhor when they're employed by the Democrats and Republicans. He's campaigning almost exclusively on campus and demonstrates nothing but contempt for anyone who deosn't share his agends. You don't live in New Paltz, so let me enlighten you. The sidewalks are a mess (so much for a pedestrian-friendly community). Kids stab themselves with the needles junkies leave on the rail trail and West does nothing because he care's more about the junkies than kids. Jason has let state grants to the village completely evaporate during his tenure. A couple of shiny green projects after four years is not much to show.

Jason Nabewaniec said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Nabewaniec said...

Bob, I'm happy to see your reading our blog and I am happy to hear what issues interest you. From your post I assume you are very familiar with the Village of New Paltz so I assume you know Jason's primary mode of transportation is his bicycle and his feet and has put a lot of effort into preserving a pedestrian community. I spent this past weekend in New Paltz going door to door with Mayor West. I parked my car for the weekend and was easily able to navigate the village by foot. Pedestrian transportation was a big campaign issues 4 years ago and I am sure you remember the Village received a large grant for sidewalk improvements while saving the Village money. You may have noticed a recent sidewalk extension from Veteran's Drive to Bonticou View.

State grants for sidewalk improvements go in 3 years cycles, since it took awhile for the state to approve the original grant, the end of the 3 year cycle is just about up, and you will be happy to hear that the bicycle pedestrian committee has finished it's survey of current sidewalk conditions to be eligible to reapply for the available grant money.

As for the concern of the used needle, the village helped secure a Grant to address that issue and will be working with Family of New Paltz to help protect the community from such unfortunate issues. On Saturday afternoon two nice young men where playing music at the corner of Main and Plattekill to help raise money for Family of New Platz, I was happy to donate a dollar and here about their wonderful organization.

Bob, if you decide you're interested in joining the grassroots campaign and going door to door with the Mayor or if you still have concerns over his campaign then you should stop by the fundraiser at Oasis on Sunday evening and speak to the Mayor.

Bobby said...

Vets drive to Bonti is one block long. They put in sidewalks on one side. And it's not in the heart of the village. In four years, that ain't much. You want to talk about grants? They've dropped 90 percent since Jason took office. That's money that has to come OUT of New Paltz taxpayers' pockets.