Green Party Candidates Qualify for Races in Portage and Hobart
Two Northwest Indiana environmental activists have qualified to have their names appear on November municipal general election ballots as Green Party candidates in Portage and Hobart.
Rev. Michael Cooper filed on Friday with the Porter County Board of Elections petitions with signatures of more than 200 registered voters to earn a slot in the historically tight mayoral race in Portage.
In Lake County, Joseph Conn qualified to appear as a candidate on the ballot for Hobart City Council At-Large. This month, Conn also filed petitions with more than 200 signatures with the Lake County Election Board. He received certification of his nomination by petition from the board on June 6.
Both candidates return to local elections following strong and historic showings in 2019 and have been active in local environmental issues and progressive issues like Medicare for All. Four years ago, Cooper and Conn were the first Green Party candidates to run for public office in their respective cities.
Cooper is challenging the incumbent Democrat, offering a sensible, progressive plan for Portage. “My commitment is to create a growing and sustainable city by focusing on making Portage a regional driver in Green jobs and technology,” Cooper said.
Recently, Cooper worked with several residents against a lead casting facility next to Portage’s Countryside Park. The casting plant was defended and approved by city hall. “I am running for mayor because our residents have experienced a long series of losses to public health and quality of life,” he said. “This campaign will pull Portage forward -- for everyone.”
In Hobart, Conn is running against two incumbent Democrats and a Republican for one of two, at-large seats. He has pledged to be a council member laser-focused on environmental issues.“I believe global warming is real and city government has a responsibility to join the effort and mitigate its effects where possible,” Conn said.
He has been active since February 2022 with the grassroots group, No Re-Zone. Its members are fighting a proposed zoning change that would enable industrial development on a 660-acre swath of farmland in the geographical center of the city. The site is bounded by high-end residential developments and is less than a mile from the 300-acre Hobart Prairie Grove and Oak Savannah Trail portions of the Indiana Dunes National Park. If fully developed, the Hobart industrial zone could draw as many as 2,100 truck trips a day, Conn said.
“Industrial developments are not necessarily bad, but this is the wrong place for an industrial complex,” Conn said. “I think the re-zone is going to be a litmus test issue in the Nov. 7 elections.”
Unlike Democrats and Republicans, which fill their ballots through the primary elections, independents and candidates in so-called “minor” political parties such as the Green Party have to submit petitions signed by verified registered voters to be included on the ballot in the general election. The number of signatures required is two percent of the total votes in the respective political subdivision from the most recent Indiana Secretary of State election. The Indiana Green Party has filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that the ballot access requirements are excessive and limit minority and independent candidates from election ballots.