The Green in Tuesday’s Special Election

This is a nice little profile on the Green party’s candidate in Tuesday’s California special Congressional election. Jim Gilchrist will almost certainly dominate the minor party news on this race, but there’s also a Green and a Libertarian in the race.

From The Daily Pilot:

The Green party has never had a member elected to Congress, but congressional candidate Béa Tiritilli is aiming to be the first.

She knows it’s hard to compete with opponents who can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, but she’s still working to get her message out, one voter at a time.

Tiritilli will face four opponents in a Dec. 6 election: Republican state Sen. John Campbell, Libertarian Bruce Cohen, American Independent Party candidate Jim Gilchrist, and Democrat Steve Young.

The winner will represent the 48th Congressional District, which includes Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach and all or part of nine other coastal and southern Orange County cities.

It’s been difficult for her to find time to campaign, with a full-time teaching job and two small children. But she knew that going into the race, she said.

She decided to run because she wanted to see a Green candidate on the ballot, but she couldn’t convince anyone else to do it. She’s also adamantly against the Iraq war and wanted that view represented in the race.

“The purpose of my campaign is to give people a choice on the ballot,” she said. “Oftentimes it’s a pro-war Democrat or a pro-war Republican…. That’s not real democracy to me.”

The U.S. military presence in Iraq is exacerbating the insurgency, she said, so if Iraqis are willing, she’d like to see the United Nations get involved there. The U.N. could send a temporary peace-keeping force till Iraq’s armies can be trained, she said.

As a Green, Tiritilli supports environmental programs that would help prevent runoff and create cleaner air, but she’s cautious about spending and would work to eliminate the federal deficit.

The biggest opportunity to reduce spending is the military budget, she said. She advocates scrapping the “Star Wars” missile defense program, which she said has cost billions but had no measurable success.

“I’d like to see our overseas military bases cut,” she said. “I believe our military needs to be at home where they can protect us when we have foreign invaders, when we have natural disasters.”

Before the campaign, illegal immigration wasn’t a big issue for Tiritilli, but she doesn’t think aggressive tactics like Gilchrist’s volunteer border patrols are the right approach.

She supports the McCain-Kennedy bill, which offers temporary visas for workers and some other undocumented immigrants. People who came to this country as babies or children should have the opportunity to earn amnesty rather than be deported, she said.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me to say, you have no connection to Mexico, but we’re going to ship you back to Mexico because your parents screwed up,” Tiritilli said.

She also believes fair trade legislation that creates better jobs south of the border would decrease the incentive to come here illegally.

And for some of the voters she’s talked to, the Green party’s time seems to have come.

“I think our message is slowly ringing true to many people, many people who say, ‘Well, perhaps it’s time for party that has peace written into its platform; perhaps it’s time for a party that doesn’t believe in corporate-dominated politics.’ ”

Other candidates may talk about grass-roots support, but Tiritilli is living it. She’s probably the only one on the ballot who had supporters help her with hand-made signs. But the important thing to her isn’t the signs, it’s offering voters a choice.

“I’m getting my message out, whether the signs are professional and perfect-looking or not,” she said.

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