Green Party discusses state energy alternatives

K.C. Howard

A week and a half before the party’s state convention, Green Party gubernatorial candidates gathered Wednesday at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs to debate environmental issues.

Approximately 40 people peppered Cowles Auditorium to hear the three Green Party candidates discuss the nuances of their environmental agendas.

Ken Pentel, the most politically experienced Green candidate, ran on the party’s ticket for governor in 1998. Garnering fourth place in that race, the 41-year-old Minneapolis resident also aided the Ralph Nader U.S. presidential campaigns in 1996 and 2000.

“I’ve been at it for a long time,” Pentel said. “That kind of distinguishes me from the other candidates.”

Nick Raleigh, 25, has been a Green Party member for two years. The St. Paul writer served as campaign manager for Cam Gordon’s 2001 bid for Minneapolis City Council in Ward 2 and also worked as a field organizer in Nader’s 2000 campaign.

“My platform is focused on the needs of the people in this state,” Raleigh said. “It takes the best parts of the (Green Party’s) platform.”

Ray Tricomo, 58, became a Green Party member in April 2001 – the same month he entered the gubernatorial race. He founded and directs the St. Paul-based Kalpulli Turtle Island Multiversity, an ecological-restoration institution.

Tricomo has taught at many universities, including Michigan State, and said he once taught a Western Civics class completely in ebonics.

“I have kind of a Buddhist approach to this whole thing,” Tricomo said. “If I’m endorsed, fine. If I’m not endorsed, fine.”

Despite his passivist bid for governor, Tricomo said, it’s important for him to see a state leader who would center politics around the environment.

He said he’s running for governor as an ecologist and an eco-feminist – a philosophical combination of feminism and environmentalism. As governor, he would eradicate coal-fired power plants and increase taxes up to $4 billion to quit “cold turkey” Minnesota’s dependency on foreign fuel sources.

Raleigh’s energy platform uses renewable energy sources, such as southwest Minnesota’s wind power, to answer Minnesota’s $2 billion foreign fuels expense.

“Coal-fire technology – for lack of a better word – sucks,” he said.

Pentel also looks toward alternative fuels and advocated getting farmers involved in the energy industry to keep revenue generated by Minnesota renewable fuel sources inside the state.

He said Minnesotans need to reform their energy usage habits toward conservation. “We don’t want to continue to satisfy our level of consumption,” he said.

Green Party members will gather May 18 at the St. Cloud Civic Center to select their gubernatorial candidate at the party’s first state convention.

K.C. Howard welcomes comments at [email protected]