Green Party Gets Green Light In Ontario County

20 May 2002
The (Canandaigua, NY) Daily Messenger

by Sarah J. Allen

Some 1,800 county residents voted for Ralph Nader in 2000.

Ontario County is the right environment for a Green Party.

At least that’s what two Canandaigua natives believe. Jason Crane and Kevin Baird decided to organize a Green Party here after becoming inspired by the local support for presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2000. Nader, a well-known consumer advocate and environmentalist, received 10 times the amount of votes in Ontario County than that number of registered Green Party voters.

The first meeting was held last week.

“I’m a big supporter of everybody having a voice in the political system,” said Crane, who is chairman of the Monroe County Green Party [sic]. “In Ontario County, I think it can be difficult for progressive people – those who don’t promote sprawl, who support the environment – to realize their views in the ballot box.”

Crane, a Rochester resident, and Baird, who’s also affiliated with the Monroe County Green Party [sic] and now lives in Buffalo, still have family in Canandaigua, where they attended high school together. “Jason and I have roots in (Ontario) county and care about its future and wanted to do something beneficial,” Baird said.

Both men are confident the Ontario County group will gain rapid support. “There are 180 registered Greens in Ontario County,” Baird said. “But 1,800 people in Ontario County voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. We thought there was enough interest to provide some framework.”

Next, the men hope to set up Green Party clubs, or “Campus Greens” chapters, in Ontario County high schools, Finger Lakes Community College and Hobart and William Smith colleges.

Crane and Baird will eventually hand over leadership to local residents.

Sandra Lynch, of Canandaigua, will be one of the county residents to take over stewardship of the Ontario County group. “Our plan is to try to contact a lot of people who voted for Ralph Nader but may not be registered as Green,” she said. “We would like to see a lot more people register.”

Lynch recently returned to the area from Baltimore, where she worked on Nader campaign efforts. Once home, she learned there was a Green Party in Monroe County, but no group in Ontario County. Lynch tried to find out more information and how to get an organization going in her area. Then recently, she was contacted and told to come to the Ontario County group’s first meeting.

Like Crane and Baird, Lynch is sure the local group will succeed. “It’s good for grassroots organizing,” she said.

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