2016-03-03 / Front Page

Green presidential candidate visits Biddeford

By Ben Meiklejohn Staff Writer

Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry, who is seeking the Green Party of the United States presidential nomination, speaks with Richard Green, an unenrolled voter, at a Biddeford caucus of the Green Independent Party, held at City Hall last Saturday. (Ben Meiklejohn photo). Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry, who is seeking the Green Party of the United States presidential nomination, speaks with Richard Green, an unenrolled voter, at a Biddeford caucus of the Green Independent Party, held at City Hall last Saturday. (Ben Meiklejohn photo). BIDDEFORD – While the upcoming Democratic and Republican party caucuses have been drawing the most public attention, the first presidential candidate to visit a caucus in Maine this year appeared at City Hall last Saturday to make her pitch to local members of the Maine Green Independent Party. Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyowasifza-Curry, who is seeking the presidential nomination of the Green Party of the United States, spoke to a small crowd at the party’s Biddeford caucus. The Green Independent Party is Maine’s affiliate of the Green Party of the United States.

State Party Co-Chairman Gil Harris of Limerick was present at the caucus and read short biographies and descriptions of all the candidates seeking the Green Party’s presidential nomination; except, when it came time for Moyowasifza-Curry’s bio, Harris instead gave her the opportunity to address the caucus in person.

Before delivering a stump speech, however, Moyowasifza-Curry said she wanted to know why people in the room became Greens, what keeps them attracted to the party and what they would change about it.

Harris, who moved to Maine from New Hampshire 10 years ago, said before he registered his car or did anything else, he enrolled as a Green Independent.

“We have to fight to get presidential candidates onto the debates and find a way to break through the two-party controlled media to get our voice out there,” Harris said. “If the public knew more about what our 10 key values are, we would get a lot of support.

“What keeps me coming is that I have strong values that go along with the economic and environmental issues that the Green Party represents, and I don’t see those parties giving them anything other than lip service.”

Michael LaClair, who convened the Biddeford caucus, said this was his first real effort to become involved politically. LaClair said he was driven away from the major parties because of their adversity toward each other.

“I’ve just kind of been driven away from – never mind the ideologies of the Republican Party that seem to go nowhere, and the Democrats always fighting back – I’ve just been driven away from both,” LaClair said. “The overall picture is, everything could be run simply locally, town by town, people getting into local issues.

“There’s a lot of time and money spent on running campaigns when meanwhile, a lot of money could go to more productive things.”

Brian Schrader of Biddeford said he grew up in a Republican family and when he discovered there were other political choices, was drawn to the Green Party, joining in the mid-1990s.

“I’m hoping that people are finally going to start to realize that money and entertainment isn’t what’s the most important, it isn’t what makes life what it is,” Schrader said. “ Change within the party? Because we don’t have tons of money and don’t have all kinds of top entertainers on our side, is the reason why we’re not getting the recognition.”

Chris Sequeira, also of Biddeford, said he enrolled Green Independent as soon as he turned 18 and supported the Ralph Nader/Winona LaDuke ticket in the first presidential election in which he could vote.

“I still have a Nader/LaDuke sticker on my toolbox. I see it everyday,” he said. “When I found Nader, I was like, please, something else, something else … I just want that song to end, the two-party song. I can’t handle it anymore that I have friends who regulate themselves too much, like calling yourself American instead of a human being.

“When you meet someone, do you say to them, ‘What’s your religious background? What’s your political stance?’ That is something that is so irrelevant when it comes down to how you’re feeling … I believe that if this country was a body, it would be an injured body.”

Biddeford resident Kenneth Kohl said Greens can help people to “discover their own power.” Jacqui Devenau, of Portland, who accompanied Moyowasifza-Curry to the caucus, said she would like to see the party focus more on women and diversity. Deveneau said the Green Party is the only party “challenging the corporate duopoly.”

Richard Green, an unenrolled voter who attended the caucus to meet Moyowasifza- Curry, said, “I think competition would be a good thing. I think a certain quality and access to funds for running any alternative party nationally is an important thing, and that a level playing field in that regard nationally benefits everyone.”

After listening to each person’s answers, Moyowasifza-Curry said that she became a Green to bring diversity to the party and to help broaden its appeal.

“White privilege exists in our party,” Moyowasifza- Curry said. “I looked around to find what party had values similar to mine and it was the Green Party. The only thing it didn’t have was people of color.”

Moyowasifza-Curry, who lives in Los Angelos, spent most of her life living in Ghana, North Africa.

“Being there made me a better American because I saw the impact of our polices that was hurting them,” she said. “You all know we cannot sustain what we have right now. What that looks like, I can’t actually tell you, but I think we have enough heart and brain to sustain our species despite our stupidity …

I cannot allow the earth to die because I’m too stupid to change – I’m going to change.”

Moyowasifza-Curry said she wanted to use her presidential campaign to help the culture within the party, and the country, to confront and end racism, classism and sexism.

“As Greens, we can have those honest discussions without offending each other, because we all want to save the planet,” she said.

Moyowasifza-Curry did have criticism for a “purist” faction of the party that sticks to a moral high ground to the exclusion of others.

“The 20 percent of Greens I have run into are some of the most moralistic folks I have met, who think their way is the way,” Moyowasifza-Curry said. “Compromise is the answer and we need to learn that.”

Schrader said he hoped the caucus would lead to more involvement by other Green Independents in Biddeford.

“I’m hoping that this is the start of something,” Schrader said. “This is the first time I’ve heard of anything going on within the Green Party. I’m hoping that maybe this will develop into something more.”

While the caucus goers could have elected a municipal chairman and formed a city party committee, the attendees instead chose to put their efforts into growing the York County committee of the party.

The Green Independent Party had run candidates for Legislature locally in the past, but the party has been largely quiet in the last decade. A special election being held March 29, was ordered by Gov. Paul LePage to replace a vacancy in Senate District 32, created when David Dutremble resigned to seek treatment for alcoholism. The Green Independent Party nominated Alan Brown on Feb. 16, to be the party’s candidate on the ballot. Brown is a former chairman of the Biddeford Green Independent Committee, who has previously run for York County treasurer.

On Feb. 20 however, Brown withdrew his candidacy, finalizing the withdrawal on Feb. 25. Signs will be posted at the polls stating that votes for Brown will not count.

In an email to the Courier, Brown said he withdrew because he would be out of state for three weeks in May and would not be able to attend the legislative session.

“Also, I feel that I would be a spoiler candidate for the Republican and Democrat candidates.” Brown said. “In the last election for representative in my district, the Republican candidate won by 100 votes.”

Brown did not attend the caucus.

“It was disappointing from a party view that we don’t have a candidate running, but I understand Alan’s situation and respect his need to withdraw,” Harris said.

LaClair said after the caucus that Moyowasifza-Curry “swept the caucus with a unanimous vote,” earning the votes of all four enrolled Green Independents in attendance.

“She’s definitely an inspiring speaker,” LaClair said. “The biggest message that she put out there is not so much about changing or fighting politics, but treading past them. It’s more about everyone doing their part, or accepting that most of us already are, because it’s about all the people, not about the politicians fighting back and forth.

“The message is not about Democrats and Republicans arguing. It’s just being inspired that the real numbers aren’t in bank accounts. The real numbers are people doing what they’re already doing. She sent a message that getting into the right kind of politics is a lot easier than most people think.”

Moyowasifza-Curry said she wasn’t discouraged by the low turnout for the caucus.

“It was so great hearing from people who think and feel the way I do,” she said. “What do the numbers have to do with the content of what I heard? This was earthshaking, the great care and love for our planet and for each other. What do numbers have to do with the substance of what I experienced? This is my party and this is why I’m running. All the different styles in that room – look at the ways we accepted each other.”

Four other candidates are also seeking the Green Party of the United States nomination, including Darryl Cherney, William Kreml, Kent Mesplay and Jill Stein. Stein was the 2012 presidential nominee for the party.

Unlike the Republican and Democratic parties, which are holding all their municipal caucuses across the state on the same day, March 5 and 6 respectively, the Green Independent Party has been holding its caucuses on dates best suited for party members in each municipality. The party’s first caucus was held in Brunswick on Feb. 13 and other caucuses are scheduled through March 19.

According to the party’s website, no caucuses are currently scheduled in Old Orchard Beach or Saco.

Disclaimer: Ben Meiklejohn has previously served as an officer and been a nominee for State Legislature for the Maine Green Independent Party.

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