The Green Party of Houston began operations in 2019 to provide progressive and eco-socialist residents of Greater Houston an alternative outlet for political activism, in the electoral arena and elsewhere. The organizers of this group generally do not believe that either corporate-funded major party represents the interests of the people at large. Nor do they foresee major-party elected officials enacting the policies and programs required to stop catastrophic climate disruption or perpetual war.
The main purposes of this organization include:
- recruiting and developing candidates for public office at the municipal, county, and state levels;
- recruiting and developing campaign managers, campaign treasurers, and other volunteers;
- publicizing progressive/eco-socialist positions on this website and in Greater Houston media outlets;
- profound discussions on solutions to a broad array of human-made problems that continually plague this planet and all living beings; and
- advocating for Instant Runoff Voting in municipal elections in Houston and surrounding cities.
GPH Is Not HCGP
Green Party Houston is not the same entity as the Harris County Green Party. Per the Texas Election Code, the County Party serves as the official nominating body for candidates for
- Harris County elections or
- legislative seats whose districts lie entirely within the county.
However, there may be overlapping membership between GPH and HCGP.
Furthermore, pending recognition by the Green Party of Texas, GPH may send its own delegates to Green Party of Texas Annual State Meetings or Nominating Conventions.
Local Elections and Policies
By statute, elections for City Council, School Board, and other local bodies in Texas are nonpartisan. Candidates in those elections do not run under a party label, so there is no need for nomination by any partisan group. However, the political affiliations of the candidates for Houston City Council, Mayor, and Controller are usually widely known.
GPH, as a body, proclaims that voters in local elections are entitled to choices beyond business-as-usual Democrats and Republicans.
Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, is already a national leader in terms of sustainable practices within city government: e.g., its fleet cars are nearly all hybrids or plug-ins, and all new municipal buildings must be LEED certified. The City of Houston is even formulating its own Climate Action Plan through its Office of Sustainability. However, Houston could do much better in encouraging sustainable practices among its residents and businesses. For example, the City does not collect recyclables from its hundreds of apartment complexes, and it has no facilities for recycling batteries.
Green-friendly candidates for City Council can bring issues of sustainability into the public eye. GPH also hopes to promote candidates for municipal offices not only in Houston, but also in nearby cities such as Sugar Land, Pearland, League City, Woodlands Township, and (believe it or not) Pasadena. Those candidates do not need to identify themselves as Greens, as long as they subscribe to the Ten Key Values of the Green Movement.
Instant Runoff Voting
Houston's municipal elections are astoundingly undemocratic, given that a tiny fraction of the voting pool often determines winners. Turnout for City Council elections tends to run about 15%, with runoff races that draw between five and ten percent of eligible voters.
Houston's City Charter requires that any candidate for city office receive a majority of the vote to be declared the winner. Frequently, races for open seats draw multiple candidates, decreasing the likelihood of a majority winner, and thus requiring a runoff election between the top two vote-getters. This costs the City far more money than necessary, especially on a per-vote basis given the low turnout rates.
The Green Party of the United States has long promoted Instant Runoff Voting for elections at all levels, especially for races with three or more candidates running. The two types of IRV that the Party favors are Ranked Choice and Approval Voting; either type would eliminate the need for additional runoff elections, with a majority winner selected from the general election. It could also boost turnout, since voters would not need to limit their votes to just one candidate when as many as twelve are vying for the same position.
Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is already in use in San Francisco, Minneapolis, the state of Maine, and other localities. The City of Fargo, North Dakota, uses Approval Voting. If Instant Runoff Voting is successful in Houston, perhaps other cities would follow suit, and the State Legislature might move to enact it for county and state elections as well.