Green Party taps local anti-poverty advocate for VP

Barack Obama has Joe Biden. Mitt Romney is rumored to be considering Condoleezza Rice. And Jill Stein has selected Cheri Honkala as her vice presidential running mate.

Stein is the presidential nominee of the Green Party, which held its national convention last week in Baltimore. She beat out actress/comedienne Roseanne Barr for the nomination.

Honkala is a longtime leader with the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. She was the Green Party’s candidate last year for Philadelphia sheriff. She was endorsed by the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee and received 7 percent of the vote running on a “no evictions” platform, pledging to help families in foreclosure stay in their homes.

Stein is a doctor who ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002. She received 3.5 percent of the vote in a race won by Romney.

In selecting Honkala, she labeled her the nation’s leading anti-poverty advocate. Honkala, a former homeless single mom, is national coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

“Cheri Honkala has shown tremendous perseverance and leadership, despite remarkable odds,” Stein said. “Her selflessness and demonstrated capacity to inspire make her the perfect vice-presidential candidate to help me reclaim democracy.”

Stein received more than 200 recommendations for running mates. Honkala beat out, among others, Barr.

The presidential candidate’s Green New Deal platform includes a halt to foreclosures and evictions, tuition-free college education and pledges to end unemployment and create 25 million jobs.

“It’s immoral that children are hungry and homeless in the richest country in the world,” Honkala said. “It’s time for the ninety-nine percent to stand united to serve our collective human needs instead of selfish, corporate greed. The Green Party is the only one standing up to Wall Street, and Jill Stein’s Green New Deal is the best plan for saving this sinking ship. I’m honored to fight beside her.”

••

Al Taubenberger, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Republican candidate in the 172nd Legislative District, opposes a proposed rate increase by the Philadelphia Water Department.

The department, which has raised rates the last three years, is calling for a 28.5-percent increase over the next four years. It would raise $316 million.

Taubenberger testified last week at a public hearing at Holy Family University. He notes that City Council passed a measure creating a ballot question for this November that will ask voters if they support creation of an independent body to review water and sewer rates.

As for the current proposal, a hearing examiner will make a recommendation to Howard Neukrug, commissioner of the water department. The increase is scheduled to be implemented on Oct. 1, and the Nov. 6 vote will not affect it.

“It’s a slap in the face of voters,” Taubenberger said. “I think the water department should wait.”

On Election Day, Taubenberger will vote to create the independent body.

Taubenberger faces freshman Democratic Rep. Kevin Boyle.

••

William Dunbar, the Democratic candidate in the 177th Legislative District, believes that the state’s new voter identification law might have an impact in his race.

Dunbar is challenging Republican Rep. John Taylor.

Figures from the Pennsylvania Department of State indicate that 18 percent of Philadelphia adults — about 186,000 people — do not have a photo identification issued by PennDOT.

“The voter ID bill could prevent thousands of residents from voting in a race that could be decided by a couple hundred votes,” Dunbar said. “Considering that there is absolutely no evidence of the fraud that Republicans designed this bill to stop, it is clear that the voter ID law is a blatant and cynical attempt to steal elections.”

Taylor voted for the law.

Dunbar welcomes voters with questions about the new identification policy to visit his campaign office at Allegheny Avenue and Tulip Street.

Supporters of the law note that voters can receive a non-driver’s photo identification card free from PennDOT. Voters can also show passports, military and college ID cards and government employee photo cards.

The law, supporters say, is meant to prevent fraud at polling places. They point out that citizens have to present photo ID when boarding airplanes, opening bank accounts and entering many buildings.

Stephanie Singer, chairwoman of the city election commissioners’ board, plans to share, with the NAACP, Pennsylvania Voice and the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition, a list of Philadelphia adults without a PennDOT photo ID. ••