URBANA – Local Greens are looking forward to the next election – including changing the way we vote.
By Paul Wood
Published November 13th 2006 in The News-Gazette- East Central Illinois
They're also savoring Wisconsin, Illinois and Massachusetts "Bring
Our Troops Home" ballot initiatives that Green Party candidates put to
referendum. In City of Champaign and Cunningham townships, voters came
out against greater involvement in the war in Iraq.
Kostas Yfantis, who garnered 21 percent of the vote in county board district 7, said the experience persuaded him to run again.
When "838 people trusted me with their vote," Yfantis said, "it boosted my hopes that next time I can do just as well or better."
In county board district 8, Joe Futrelle won 25 percent of the vote.
He said the local Greens have two immediate goals: to build on the strength generated by Rich Whitney's run for governor, and to make reforms in voting.
"There's real surge in membership as result of Whitney campaign," Futrelle said. "We're working on building organizations throughout the state and getting them plugged into volunteer efforts."
They also are beginning a push to change county balloting to use "instant runoff" or other reforms.
In instant runoff voting, Futrelle said, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets an overall majority of first preferences, the candidates with the lowest totals are eliminated one by one, and their votes transferred according to their second and third preferences until a majority candidate emerges.
"If you have an election system that kills pluralism where it ought to begin, you disenfranchise people, who have no incentives to run for office," Yfantis said.
The Greens' concept won support Friday from a surprising source, Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden.
He likes the idea because it makes primaries unnecessary, saving money and making it easier for overseas voters, including military personnel, to be part of the process.
Shelden said a recent state attorney general's opinion said instant-runoff voting is legal for home-rule municipalities.
The Greens also were enthused by support for township referendum issues they put forward.
Yfantis called the referendum results "a perfect picture about what people feel about the war at the moment."
Futrelle, who pushed for the question about Illinois National Guard troops in Iraq, said the Greens received media coverage that helped establish them as the anti-war party.
"My reaction is cautiously optimistic," he said.
The Republican leadership is being "held accountable for some of its failed policies in Iraq," while Democrats are not proving an alternative to corporate sponsorship of politics, he said.
Yfantis said when people tell him they'll "throw away my vote" by voting for Greens, last week's results show that the party has real support.
"I want to live in a democracy where all viewpoints are heard," he said. "My donations come from local citizens, not from corporations or PACs. I'll be accountable to the people."