Invited or not, green candidate Whitney will be present at debate

28 Sep

Rich Whitney, Green Party candidate for Illinois Governor, speaks to a Journalism class at DePaul University on September 28, 2010. (Photo by Kevin Sherman |

By Jennifer Schanz

In a machine-party election, the third candidate and self proclaimed rebel Rich Whitney says there’s more to the Green Party than tree hugging hippies, and he’s out to make it known. Only 11-years old, the Illinois Green Party is founded on ten key values, ranging from issues of ecological wisdom to social justice and grassroots democracy.

“We need an alternative to Republicans and Democrats,” the gubernatorial candidate says. “There are still a lot of people who don’t know my name,” he said.

On Monday, Whitney, speaking at DePaul University, said he was still awaiting confirmation to attend a Gubernatorial debate Wednesday at Chicago’s Union League Club with established party candidates Republican Bill Brady and Democrat Pat Quinn.

“Democrats and Republicans like to protect their stranglehold on politics,” said the Green candidate.

Constantly fighting to be recognized in mainstream debates and televised events, Whitney plans to attend the upcoming gubernatorial debate as a protestor if not invited to be a participant. “Oh, I’ll be there,” he says, assuring us that third party or not, Green is a force to be reckoned with.

Claiming that ‘corporate sponsored parties,’ as he refers to them, have created a brick wall of big money interests that deter attention from the actual issues, Whitney views a third party as essential to putting politics back in the hands of the people. “That’s why the Green Party needs to exist,” he says, citing the counter productivity of major-party struggle. “Green is good. Green is progress.”

As a movement-based party, The Green Party does not take corporate donations on principle. “I believe in public transit,” Whitney says jokingly when pointing out his commute home on the Metra as opposed to private planes or chauffeurs. “In a way,” he says, “we handicap ourselves because we are committed to a larger mission.”

That mission being? “That we cannot do business as usual.”

While his controversial support of the legalization of marijuana may rest on the media front burner, Whitney states progressive taxes as a top priority in his campaign. “We have one of the most regressive tax systems in the country,” he says, referencing House Bill 174, Senate Bill 750, and the construction of a state bank as ways, alongside Cannabis legalization, as ways to dig Illinois out of its debt trench.

Also on Whitney’s agenda  is fighting for term limits, eliminating ethics loopholes, and educating Illinois on the importance of ecological sustainability. With a plethora of items on his to-do list, the Green Party rebel cites his biggest obstacle is still inclusion.

Despite a notable lack of resources, having campaigned with a sliver of the funding available to Republican and Democratic candidates, the Green Party established itself as a legitimate party in the 2006 Gubernatorial election, earning just over 10% of the total votes.

Now, Whitney says, the mission is to inform voters.

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