Article: California Greens win five of seven races in November elections; Pasadena City College Board tops victories

By Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California. Green Pages, November 15, 2005

In November elections, California Greens won five of the seven races they contested. Perhaps the most impressive was Hilary Bradbury-Huang's election to the board of trustees of Pasadena City College (PCC), defeating a 27-year incumbent in what appeared months before the election to be a long shot at best.

Bradbury-Huang was elected with 51.6 percent of the vote, winning by 377 votes out of 12,113 cast. An organizational psychologist, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California (USC) and Pepperdine University, she went door-to-door, campaigning on listening to students and teachers and being willing to question the college administration when necessary. She also pushed for "greening" the college and bringing sustainability to the students and community, emphasizing solar energy on campus and creating a more walkable city to deal with the campus' traffic and parking problems.

At the same time, Bradbury-Huang confounded those who tried to pigeonhole her as a single-issue environmentalist by stressing the importance of building better relations between the college and the local small business community, through promotion of local internships and scholarships to provide Greater Pasadena with a more educated workforce.

While her conservative opponent ran on "living within the college budget," Bradbury-Huang stressed her background in organizational management and psychology as a way of achieving greater synergy among students, faculty and community, with those same budgetary resources. Ultimately it was the breadth of this message, combined with the professional nature of her campaign, that put Bradbury-Huang over the top and led to her "upset" victory.

Bradbury-Huang worked hard to contact personally every voter in her district, which contains the communities of South Pasadena, San Marino and Temple City. She walked door-to-door for the two months preceding the campaign and was supported in this effort by the Green group in her area, the Arroyo Seco Greens.

At the same time, Bradbury-Huang also pursued an aggressive, direct-mail campaign in communicating her message, coordinated by political consultant Sharon Gilpin of the Gilpin Group, who has previously run winning Green city council campaigns in Santa Monica. Overall, the campaign raised and spent approximately $20,000. Turnout among the district's 30,000 registered voters was approximately 40 percent, about what was expected. 

The PCC Faculty Chapter of the California Teachers' Association, the Arroyo Seco Greens, ACT (a Pasadena-based progressive voter action network) and many community leaders all endorsed Bradbury-Huang. And despite endorsing her opponent, the local Pasadena Star-News said about her: 

"The newcomer challenger is such an outstanding example of the kind of people we'd like to see in local elected office. Fairly new to the area, South Pasadena-based Hilary Bradbury-Huang is a nationally known organizational psychologist who teaches at Pepperdine and USC and consults for major corporations on management effectiveness. Born and raised in Ireland before getting her graduate education here, she got involved at PCC by taking language classes. She has creative ideas about sustainable development and about making the college even more key to the local economy."

An immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1985, speaks six languages and whose husband is Chinese-American, Bradbury-Huang has been a Green since living in Germany in the early 1980s. Yet she successfully appealed to many of the district's affluent and traditionally GOP voters, who were willing to vote Green if it meant improving education. She also campaigned directly in the growing Asian-American communities in her district, which make up sizeable pluralities in some areas.

With her election Bradbury-Huang becomes the seventh Green currently holding elected office in Los Angeles County and the second in the county to be elected to a community college board of trustees, following Nancy Pearlman (who also endorsed Bradbury-Huang), elected to the 33-city Los Angeles Community College District board in 2001.

As of Nov. 30, 2005, 24,850 people were registered Green in Los Angeles County, the most Greens in any county in the nation and more than in any other state except New York (and California itself).

Elsewhere in California, on Nov. 8 Jim Harvey and Paul Perkovic won re-election to the Montara Water and Sanitary District (MWSD) board in San Mateo County, and Nicole Vigeant was uncontested in her bid to return to the Community Service Area, Tomales Village, in Marin County. On Nov. 28 Jeff Chapman was re-elected to the 19-member Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council (ASNC) in the Mt. Washington, Montecito Heights, Sycamore Grove and Hermon neighborhoods of northeast Los Angeles.

These victories bring the number of Greens holding elected office across the state to 65. In addition, Dana Dillworth ran a viable city council campaign in Brisbane, placing fifth out of nine candidates for three seats, while James Marsh finished third for two seats on the Coastside Community Water District. Both races were in San Mateo County.

In their time in office and as community activists, Harvey and Perkovic helped make local water-policy history by gaining water powers for the then Montara Sanitary District from a private company. This came as a result of a condemnation action filed in May 2002, following an 81 percent approval by Montara and Moss Beach voters to authorize up to $19 million in general obligation bonds to purchase and rehabilitate the water system. 

Harvey and Perkovic ran for re-election on improving local water quality and supply, and on retaining responsive and representative community control over a critical environmental/community asset. "Money was going to corporate profits and not getting back into the community. That was my first goal, to get the public takeover done," said Harvey, a laboratory technologist at Stanford Hospital, during his campaign. "Now we're making repairs on the system and successfully finding new sources of water."

"When the system was privately owned," added Perkovic, "the company was not willing to dig test wells to seek new water, because they didn't believe they could recover costs if the wells came up dry. Now that we have community control, we are making different choices based upon the public interest and have found new sources of water in the process. This makes us more self-reliant in meeting current water needs, as well as realizing the goals of our local coastal land-use plan, which has limited growth objectives."

Both Harvey and Perkovic were endorsed by the Sierra Club and the San Mateo County League for Coastside Protection, as well as the Green Party of San Mateo County. The chapter distributed a newsletter to all registered Greens in the county with pictures and profiles of the candidates, precinct walked and put up yard signs for them. 

In his race, Chapman finished first of two candidates for an at-large ASNC seat especially reserved for representing community nonprofits. Receiving 55.1 percent of the vote, he hoped to use the ASNC to bring together the wide variety of nonprofits in the area, find areas of commonality and collaboration, and provide funding for nonprofit staff to attend workshops at the Center for Nonprofit Management in downtown Los Angeles.

On Dec. 6 in neighboring Orange County, BÈa Tiritilli received 1,242 votes, or 1.3 percent, in a special election to fill a vacancy in the 48th Congressional District. A high-school teacher, Tiritilli, 42, made these positions the centerpieces of her campaign: opposition to the Iraq war, a renewable energy policy, an end to corporate welfare, and immigration reform that doesn't scapegoat undocumented immigrants. 

Unlike most Green candidates for partisan office, Tiritilli was allowed to participate in several televised debates, helping the Green Party gain a rare equal footing in that medium, and because the special election was the only one occurring at the time, she received a great deal more media attention than normal for a Green candidate. Tiritilli also received the endorsement of the Elections Committee of the County of Orange (ECCO), a nonpartisan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, HIV/AIDS and women's political-action committee.