The Republicans are having their convention in Cleveland in July, while the Democrats meet in Philadelphia a week or so later. But for the Green Party in Pennsylvania, the place to be was State College this weekend.
Some local members of the Green Party think Jill Stein will be the presidential nomination this year for their party.
The Massachusetts politician made her way to State College on Saturday for the Pennsylvania 2016 Green Party Nominating Convention at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center.
It’s an annual two-day event that includes programs that reinforce skill-building and Green Party values, and an internal election.
The election will take place Sunday, Chairman of the Green Party of Pennsylvania Jay Sweeney said.
It’s also the local caucus for Green Party members vying for a spot on this year’s presidential election ballot, including Stein, along with four others who participated via Skype.
But the Green Party race is different than those of the democrats and republicans, Centre County Green Party Secretary Neil Haagen said.
He said people who are “greens” announce they want to run for national office, and garner support from each state.
However, the nominee is not able to participate in the primary vote, Haagen said.
“That’s not our choice,” he said. “The republicans and democrats only have access to the primaries. Taxpayers fund theirs; we have to fund ours. So what we do is have a caucus, not unlike Iowa’s caucus. We just don’t air it because not everyone is subject to the same system.”
Haagen believes Stein will be the Green Party presidential nominee this year.
With experience running in the 2012 presidential election, Stein “did better in Centre County than anywhere else in the (commonwealth),” Haagen said.
“There is growth of the party here,” he said.
About 45 registered guests participated in the event that Green Party members like Haagen said helps spread the word about the party.
The same convention was held in the Centre Region two years ago.
Sweeney said it’s often held in Centre County because of its central location within the state, but also because the state organization was looking to expand with a Centre County Green Party chapter.
The Centre County Green Party was founded about three years ago by three members, Haagen said.
“We wanted to do something as a group to get people in office and support national candidates,” he said. “Basically we outreach to make people aware that we exist. We want to help people make things happen.”
Sweeney said the Green Party values four main principles: peace, environmental protection, social justice and democracy.
“This state has people from around the state with the same issues, and our goal is to find common ground,” Sweeney said. “With those four issues, how do we find common ground? We try and bring these issues to a discussion and see how we work together on those issues.”
In Centre County, Haagen said, the Green Party does its best to help others.
“My son is a borough councilman and a green, and he connects us with things they’re facing like water, air and budgetary issues, and we try to bring that to discussion with people in the county,” Haagen said. “Then what we would do is activist things. ... We went to the climate change march in New York City and brought information we collect back here and spread to other like-minded individuals like groups on campus and work with members.”
But he added that recruiting people in the chapter is in the infancy stages.
Sweeney said it’s a national slow growth trend among the party.
If nothing else, he hopes more people can get involved — if not to join the Green Party, then to become more educated.
“A lot of people agree with the Green Party on the issues, but a lot of people are afraid to make the break,” he said. “All we are asking is to give greens a chance.”