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D.C. Statehood, Green parties merge; name change preserves ‘ballot status’

(Published November 29, 1999)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

The D.C. Statehood Party and the fledgling Green Party have received official permission to merge from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.

Originally, board officials suggested that both parties would have to disband and form under a new name, which would cost both parties their ballot status. After meetings between the board and party officials, however, the board agreed Nov. 3 to let the Statehood party re-name itself if the Green party disbands and its approximately 120 members reregister as members of the new party. The almost 4,000 Statehood party members do not need to re-register.

The new party will become part of the Association of State Green Parties, the national Green party organization, which will give the former Statehood party a national support organization for the first time.

According to Green party steering committee member Scott McLarty, the D.C. Statehood Green Party is the largest in relation to population of any Green party in the nation.

The agreement also will bring changes to the Statehood party’s organizational structure. Previously, the party leadership followed the traditional model of electing a chairman, vice-chairman and secretaries. The new party will operate under the Green party’s consensus system where a steering committee is chosen to run meetings and decisions are made by consensus instead of majority vote.

"What that prevents is anyone from having exceptional power," McLarty said. "For the most part, we will be preserving that structure."

The party will retain its ward committees, whose members will help gather signatures for primary elections and do campaign work.

Both parties passed resolutions earlier this year supporting a merger of the two activist parties. The parties agreed to the merger because their platforms and goals are similar. McLarty said members of both parties regularly attend the other party’s meetings. Former Green party member Kevin McCarron left the party to become the Statehood party’s current chairman.

Keeping ballot status has major benefits for smaller parties such as the Statehood and Green parties. This allows them to hold primary elections and it also makes getting the required signatures to place candidates on the ballot much easier. Parties gain ballot status by garnering 7,500 votes for any one candidate in an election. The Green party met that requirement in last November’s election.

The Statehood party got ballot status when founder Julius Hobson ran unsuccessfully for city council in 1974. The last Statehood party member to hold elected office was Hilda H.M. Mason, who lost her long-held at-large council seat last November.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator