Sutton, WV. (ONN) The Mountain Party of West Virginia, the local affiliate of the national Green Party, just held its bi-annual State Convention. The party’s Executive Committee unanimously voted in new party leadership while approving a large slate of candidates for the upcoming November General Election. With West Virginia’s recent poisoning of its drinking water due to industrial contamination, watch for the Mountain Party Greens to score some surprise victories this year.
During the party’s recent State Convention, WV Mountain Party State Chairwoman Charlotte Pritt formally announced her departure as the party’s top local leader after serving as Chair for two years. The state Executive Committee followed the announcement by unanimously voting for environmental activist Elise Keaton to replace Pritt as State Chair.
“I am excited to pass the gavel to someone with both a brilliant legal mind and courageous youthful energy,” Charlotte Pritt told party members and supporters, “West Virginia’s younger generation is hungry for leadership that reflects the beauty of our mountains and spirit of our people. Elise Keaton provides that leadership.” During her tenure in office, Pritt was a fierce spokesperson for the people of West Virginia after Freedom Industries poisoned the state’s drinking water after an industrial accident.
“At the heart of the declared National Disaster in Charleston, West Virginia, where Freedom Industries poisoned the drinking water of 300,000 people, is the industry-over-people voting record of the elected officials here in the state,” Charlotte Pritt vocally protested at the time. She’s also taken on the state’s electronic voting machines, citing at least two incidents in the past were the machines’ legitimacy has been called into question by authorities.
Elise Keaton, the Mountain Party of West Virginia’s new State Chair, is an example of what young activists can achieve with perseverance and passion. Keaton is an environmental lawyer who grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. She’s the Executive Director of the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, Chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee for the West Virginia Environmental Council, and Gubernatorial appointee to the Board of Directors for the West Virginia Land Stewardship Corporation.
After graduating from her local WV high school, Keaton went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Tech in Political Science. She continued her education by earning her law degree and focusing her legal specialty on environmental law, specifically surface mining and strip mining. Elise Keaton has since been an active and vocal champion of environmental stewardship both West Virginia and around the country.
“The Mountain Party is the party for our mountain people,” Keaton said after being chosen to lead the Green Party state affiliate, “Regardless of prior political inclinations, members of the Mountain Party come together around the values we share – health, mountains, clean waters and thriving communities. West Virginia is the crown gem of Appalachia and has much more to offer than just her mineral resources. I’m honored to lead the Party willing to fight for and protect her true bounty, the people who live here.”
At the same State Convention that elected Elise Keaton the party’s new State Chair two weeks ago, the Party’s convention delegates also nominated a nearly full slate of candidates for local, state-wide and national office. The Mountain Party of West Virginia’s 2014 General Election candidates include:
US Senate – Bob Henry Baber
US House – Ed Rabel
WV Senate District 17 – Jesse Johnson (Kanawha)
WV House District 11 – Dr. Mark Myers (Roane)
WV House District 23 – Danny Ray Cooke (Boone)
WV House District 27 – Karen White (Mercer)
WV House District 32 – Tighe Bullock (Fayette)
WV House District 66 – Daniel Lutz – (Jefferson)
WV House District 49 – Mike Manypenny (Taylor)
WV House District 39 – Sally Shepherd (Kanawha)
WV House District 37 – Mike Pushkin (Kanawha)
Kanawha County Commission – Dianna Strickland
In additional to the above candidate slate, the WV Green Party affiliate also unanimously approved three resolutions, all revolving around the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana and industrial hemp. One resolution calls on the state to legalize medical marijuana. The Mountain Party says West Virginia was one of the first to do so back in 1979, but the law was repealed in 1997. The remaining resolutions support the legalization of industrial hemp, the decriminalization of marijuana possession and a vote to reaffirm the party’s support of collective bargaining rights for West Virginia public employees.
Bob Henry Baber for US Senate
At the top of the WV Mountain Party’s ticket this November will be Bob Henry Baber running for the office of US Senate. Baber is no stranger to politics and elections. He previously ran WV Governor in 2011 where he was outspent by his opponents 10,000 to 1. The following year, he ran for US Senate on the Mountain Party/Green Party ballot line, capturing over 20,000 votes.
After filing the required candidate paperwork at the WV Secretary of State’s office last week, Bob Henry Baber exuberantly told supporters, “I am honored to have the opportunity to speak for people who are disenfranchised with the business-as-usual Republicrats who unconditionally promote West Virginia’s extraction industries regardless of the safety of their workers and the health of our communities. I support full disclosure of all toxic chemicals and the deadly waste by-products from the rapidly advancing and under-regulated Fracking Industry.”
The race for WV’s open US Senate seat should be especially interesting since the retirement of Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) from the position. Already, there are a half dozen candidates expected to be on the November ballot including the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, the Mountain Party’s Baber and a host of independents.
Taking on the Establishment
When asked about the numerous candidates running against him, Bob Henry Baber took aim at the race’s frontrunner, State Rep. Shelley Capito (R-2). “Capito is the wrong person at the wrong time to represent West Virginia in Congress,” Baber said, “Her campaigns have always been funded by the rich and powerful. She’s become a multimillionaire since she was first elected, and her campaign donors have been the likes of Freedom Industries and Tom De Lay’s crooked Super PAC.”
The Mountain-Green US Senate candidate went on to point out his Republican opponent’s flawed voting record explaining, “That’s why she opposes raising the minimum wage and could care less that forty million Americans are without healthcare. She voted against paycheck equality for women and has even fought against loans for college students. Her record on protecting the environment and the health of the people throughout our state is terrible.”
The Mountain Party of West Virginia has new leadership, a large slate of candidates, and a clearly energized and rejuvenated state party. With an environmental disaster to continually remind voters what they can look forward to with more Democrat and Republican elect officials, the Mountain-Greens have a rare opportunity to score a few surprise victories doing nothing more than promoting their longtime number one issue – the environment.