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ELECTIONS '96

Green Party Wins its First Majority on a City Council

November 07, 1996| From Associated Press

ARCATA, Calif. — Ralph Nader may not be president-elect, but his Green Party has a victory to celebrate: Voters in this Northern California university town have elected a Green City Council majority.

The win marks the first time the Greens have won control of a city government, national coordinator Betty Wood said Wednesday from the party's New York headquarters.

"It's fantastic," she said. "I hope it's a foreshadowing of things to come."

Nader told Associated Press that the Arcata council members had won by addressing issues the two major parties avoided.

"They obviously didn't float into office on a sea of money," he said. "My great congratulations to them for setting the Green Party standard for future elections."

With three of five City Council seats up for grabs Tuesday, Arcata voters, including many students at Humboldt State University, elected a slate of environmentalists to the nominally nonpartisan posts.

Two of the three--store manager Jennifer Hanan, 29, and brewing company owner Bob Ornelas, 43--are Green Party members. They join Green Party member Jason Kirkpatrick, 28, who was elected two years ago.

"Environmental awareness has really skyrocketed," Kirkpatrick said Wednesday. "And our voters are very aware of the issues."

Arcata is close to the Headwaters Forest, the old-growth stand of redwoods at the center of a pitched environmental battle in recent years. Although that issue may have energized voters, Tuesday's winners attributed their success more to local concerns.

"We've been working a long time for this day," Ornelas said. "A lot of the activities in the town reflect the green movement--we have a big compost facility, we have a lot of green businesses, there's a lot of support for organic farming."

Less-than-green Arcata residents needn't worry about an environmentalist revolution.

"There's a lot of temptation to do things, but we're not about to block off four or five streets and say 'Walking only,' " said Ornelas.

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