All but one of 14 Green Party of Utah candidates for elected office were nominated during the party's convention Saturday.
GPU members voted to put the names of 13 Greens on the November ballot for 13 different offices, including the 1st and 2nd U.S. Congressional Districts. Though there was only one Green candidate for each office, there was also a GPU ballot option of "none of the above" to reflect the party's efforts for grass-roots democracy.
Though there was no opposition to each Green candidate and there will be no need for a primary, the convention, which saw no infighting or hot debate, was not a formality, said 1st Congressional District contender Craig Axford.
Even though names to be put on the ballot were due to the state last week, the Green Party received an extension from the State Elections Office because of the scheduling of its convention, said Rob Morrison, GPU co-coordinator and GPU candidate for Utah House District 3.
"Nobody's competing here; most of the candidates are definitely Green," said GPU co-coordinator Penny Archibald-Stone. "But they have to have our support, we have to vote for them (at the convention)."
Rather than party delegates, the GPU allowed any member of a Green Party "local" or precinct, to vote for the candidate in each office or choose the "none of the above" option. Around 75 people turned out, 42 were eligible to vote. In the future the party may replace the at-large voting process with districts, Axford said.
Besides Axford in the 1st District, the other Green running for national office who will be on the November ballot is Patrick Diehl for the 2nd Congressional District. Also, in three of this fall's races Greens offer the only opposition to Republican candidates: Utah Senate District 22 and Utah House districts 16 and 54.
The closest vote came in the Utah Senate District 1, where John Renteria was confirmed by a slim margin over the "none of the above" option. Renteria recently jumped ship from the Democratic Party to the Greens, and some voters weren't sure his views on things like the war on terrorism aligned well with the party's.
"He will have to demonstrate that he is truly Green," said Archibald-Stone. "But he's representing the Hispanic community and we certainly want to work with the Hispanic community; we're glad that we have him."
The only candidate who was not confirmed was Jonathan Marshall, who doesn't belong to a local and was not at the convention, said Archibald-Stone. None of the votes for the other 13 offices were unanimous, though most were close to it.
Most of the 13 candidates vowed to abide without deviation by the clean-campaign fund standard, which stipulates that they take no money from Political Action Committees and large corporate entities. There was some debate over whether candidates should take contributions from small businesses.
Among other issues most of the candidates addressed Saturday were the Legacy Highway and the wars on drugs and terrorism. In keeping with the party's platform and values, they were against all three for the most part.
This is the party's first year of ballot access in the state, which it won in February after getting 2,000 signatures in support of the move. As long as the party receives 2 percent of the overall vote in any given election, members will not have to start the petition drive all over again for renewal, Axford said.Likely to win or not, the Green Party candidates said they were pleased with the growth of the party over the past couple of years and hope the upcoming campaigns spread the word about the party and build a base of support for its message.
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