From WILL - The Public Square -

Durl Kruse, Green Party Mayoral Candidate in Urbana

Hello, my name is Durl Kruse and I am running for Mayor of Urbana as a Green Party Candidate.

Several days ago as my wife was getting her hair cut, she mentioned to her stylist that her husband was running as the Green Party candidate for the mayor of Urbana. Befuddled, the hair stylist responded: But, what is the Green Party?

Unfortunately this was not a surprising or unusual response. Many people have never heard of the Green Party, much less considered voting for a Green candidate. Sadly my wife's hairstylist is not alone.

One must ask, what happens to the vibrancy and health of local participatory democracy when over time only one or two parties dominate the public conscience and political discourse of a community? Does citizen interest in local government grow or decline? Do more or fewer citizens run for local office? Is voter turnout higher or lower? Are elected officials held more or less accountable? Do fewer or more creative ideas enter the public discourse?

During the last four Urbana municipal elections voter turnout has steadily declined from 34%, to 21%, to 18%, to 12%. That's a decline of 22% over the past sixteen years. There also have been 16 unchallenged city races during this time. In the upcoming 2009 municipal election, four city council seats and the city clerk's office are unchallenged. There is no Urbana primary contest being held this spring because of the lack of intra-party candidates. Most startling, in recent municipal elections, several precincts have had voter turnout as low as 1-2%.

Clearly these trends and statistics are not signs of a healthy vibrant democracy in Urbana. Citizen interest and participation is waning. For too long voters have been given too few choices and limited party options.

Would a viable third party help improve this sad state of affairs? As Greens we believe so and that is why for the first time in Urbana three green candidates are running for city office We believe citizens should be able to have a robust and open discussion of local issues, be able to ask questions of the candidates, and be able to voice their concerns to the candidates.

Have you heard the Green Party's ideas for local economic development? It's position on environmental sustainability? Its thoughts on expanding community governance? Isn't the general public entitled to know the Green Party's positions on these and many other local issues of concern?

With this goal in mind, we invite the public and other candidates to join us in a series of community debates or discussions regarding each party's vision for Urbana. Until then, the voters can learn more about the three Green Party candidates running for local office by linking to the Prairie Green website at www. Prairiegreens.org

Don't you agree it's about time that voters have more than just the two traditional parties to choose from. And when voters hear a Green is running for local office it will seem normal.