Four Greens running for New York City Council

New York City politics have been a lot more lively this year thanks to Rev. Billy Talen’s campaign for mayor with the Green Party. Meanwhile, four hard-working Green candidates for NYC city council are hoping for a breakthrough in this overwhelmingly Democratic-voting city.

David Pechefsky, who spent twelve years working for the city council, is now running to represent District 39, Park Slope – Brooklyn. He has made a major issue out of reforming the city council so that the speaker doesn’t have all the power, as this short video explains nicely. To learn more about David Pechefsky and donate to his campaign, check out his website (donations to NYC candidates from residents of the 5 boroughs can be matched 6-1 by the city’s public funding program – so please help out NYC’s 5 excellent Green candidates!).

Evergreen Chou, a Green stalwart in Queens since the 1996 Nader campaign, is running to represent District 20, Flushing – Queens. Chou’s proposals include a requirement that 1/3 of new housing be allocated for low-income earners, a city survey of pollution-related conditions like asthma, new bike and pedestrian paths along Flushing’s waterfront, and posting the city budget online for greater transparency in how tax money is spent.

Lynne Serpe, an energy efficiency expert, community organizer and urban gardener, is running to represent District 22, Astoria – Queens. Her comprehensive platform focuses especially on the link between the environment and public health. Lynne Serpe is calling for sustainable development with thriving small businesses and green jobs; more public space, including community gardens and waterfront access for all; an improved transportation network; and energy-efficient, affordable housing. She recently penned an editorial for the New York Daily News calling for instant runoff voting in New York City.

Walter Nestler, a landscape architect who has served as an environmental watchdog on Community Board 9, is running to represent District 18 in the Southeast Bronx. He promises to fight the city’s habit of using the Southeast Bronx as a dumping ground for hazardous waste. Like Reverend Billy Talen, Nestler seeks to protect local businesses in a city that he sees as “becoming increasingly hostile towards” small business owners.

New York City – still the world’s leading example of strength through diversity – needs a strong Green Party to advance social and economic justice and sustainable development. With some innovative thinking, New York can lead the way to America’s future, but it is in mortal danger of succumbing to its worst demons – real estate speculation, disneyfication, and the Wall Street speculation that took down the global economy last year. By donating to Billy Talen, David Pechefsky, Evergreen Chou, Lynne Serpe, and Walter Nestler, you can help to turn the Big Apple Green.

(Pictured: L – Billy Talen and Lynne Serpe, R – Walter Nestler (L))

Billy Talen and Lynne SerpeWalter Nestler (left)

Dave Schwab


  1. I am new to the green party, but I am concerned of the Greens’ support of Reverend Talen. He strikes me as a fake and a clown. What’s with the whole Sunday Evangelical act? If the Greens hope to make any progress when it comes to getting someone elected Mayor of New York; they need to go with someone who presents a more dignified manner.

    I understand that no one else is running for Mayor, but that does not necessarily mean that Greens need to stand by the Reverend.

    I apologize for the extreme bluntness. I do not mean to offend anyone, but the Rev rubs me the wrong way, and I do want the GP to make some important strides, but it’s not going to happen with this man. It’s just not. I’m originally from New York and there is no way that the Rev would even come close to being elected.

  2. Once again, I want to apologize. I want to get started in the Green Party on good footing. I don’t want to offend those who support Reverend Talen. I may have been harsh, however, I hope you all get my point.

  3. Catherine,

    Studies have shown that some people just don’t get “sarcasm.” It is a certain set of connections in the brain. People in New York tend to understand and use sarcasm as part of our culture.

    I use that as an example.

    Some people do not get “comedy”, “satire”, or “art”. And, it seems like you are someone that doesn’t deeply understand or like those things.

    It’s okay we are all different.

    But, overall, most people understand Reverend Billy as a profound performance artist who is making commentary on life, religion and politics.

    There is nothing clownish about Reverend Billy…unless you mean clownish like the jester in a Shakespeare play.

    When you demand a candidate be “dignified”, I hear: outdated, status quo, of the elite, corporate, etc. All things that the Green Party should not be.

    Also…the proof is in the pudding. The campaign is well underway and it is a success. There are more young people hanging around Rev Billy than any other governor candidate the NY Green Party has had. Also, Rev Billy has gotten awesome, national press before and after his run for governor.

    So, Catherine, if you don’t get it, just sit this one out.

    Or, meditate on why you, as a Green, have a need for yourself or others to be “dignified.”

    Kimberly Wilder

    P.S. I can’t resist a story. Years ago, I had the idea to try to recrutie Pete Seeger’s grandson to run for Governor of NY. He is young, he has a band, and imagine the connections. His name is Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, and some old green said that they would be horrified if we were so ridiculous as to put someone with the name “Tao” on the ballot. To each their own…

  4. I’m a big supporter of the GP but as a resident of Arizona I realize my opinion of the Rev doesn’t really matter as much as the opinions of New Yorkers. With that said, Rev Billy Tallen DOES need to present himself in a more “dignified” manner if he wants to show New Yorkers that he and the GP have the right solutions to the country’s more serious problems.. or New York’s for this matter.

    I understand how Kimberly hears status quo, corporate, of the elite, etc… but I’m not saying Rev Tallen needs to be the next John Kerry! I’m not saying that at all..

    ..But when it looks like the man spends more time on his hair or religion I will say he needs to be more “dignified” if people are going to take him seriously as a politician.

  5. Hey Catherine and Sam, welcome to GPW. Sam, I’m in Tucson, where in AZ are you?

    This is an inevitable debate, and I know that some NYC Greens feel the same way. It’s cool tho, they’re just working on other Green campaigns in the city.

    I should start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Rev. Billy, and have been even before I found out he was running as a Green.

    Several times during this campaign, I’ve seen people (Green or not) have similar reactions to news of Rev. Billy’s candidacy, but then change their mind after seeing him in action.


    He is a performance artist, which does entail an element of artifice. But if you listen to what he is saying, there is a deep message that resonates strongly with Green values. His activist credentials are impeccable: Rev. Billy has been involved with anti-war, environmentalist, worker’s rights, anti-homelessness, historical preservation, and most other progressive causes you can think of. He’s been resisting Wal-Mart since before Michael Moore was a household name.

    As he explains it, he appropriated a right-wing archetype – the homophobic, greedy, war-mongering character known as a televangelist – and put a progressive voice in that character. It catches people off guard, makes them laugh, and that’s how he gets people to listen – often people who wouldn’t listen to more canonical progressive political speech. As his friends say, “the collar is fake but the issues are real”.

    The NYC Greens have run more “serious” candidates for mayor before. The problem is, the media isn’t interested in a candidate with ideas, they’re interested in money and connections. So I think it was smart of the NYC Greens to run a candidate who can attract attention – and support – without a lot of money or endorsements. Whether or not you agree with his tactics, it’s hard to deny that Rev. Billy’s campaign is generating the most attention that the Green Party has ever gotten in New York. And a lot of people are delighted to have something other than politics as usual.

    I see Rev. Billy’s campaign as identifying and mobilizing a Green base in NYC. Hopefully he will inspire more people to run for office, and the Green Party will rise from the grassroots as a progressive alternative to unresponsive single-party Democratic rule of the city council. (Yes, Bloomberg is nominally Republican, but the overwhelmingly Democratic city council overrode voter-imposed term limits to clear the way for his third term).

  6. I’m attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Nice to meet another Green Arizonian :)

    and thanks for the post. It definitely changed some of my opinions.

  7. The real clowns are the current crop of elected officials who are running the country. They are no laughing matter. I take Rev. Billy’s campaign seriously and I am a 59 year old catholic square.

  8. TPR, let me put it this way – if you took a poll of how many polls mention Green candidates, you’d probably come out with a figure that looks a lot like zero percent.

    Ralph Nader looked into the issue of how polls treat third party and independent campaigns in 2008. As you may know, Nader was excluded from the presidential debates in 2000 (and 2004 and 2008 along with Green candidates Cobb and McKinney) by the Democratic- and Republican-controlled private corporation called the Commission on Presidential Debates. The official reason given by the CPD for his exclusion was that he wasn’t polling high enough – I believe their stated requirement is polling at least 15% in at least 3 polls.

    Nader found out that they were using Rasmussen polls. He also noticed that he did a lot worse in Rasmussen polls than in other polls (in many polls he would get 5-10%, but with Rasmussen he was polling less than 1% consistently). So he got in touch with Rasmussen, and found out that when Rasmussen was polling voters, they didn’t ask voters about him or any other candidates aside from the Democrat and the Republican.

    So Nader is excluded from the debates because he isn’t doing well enough in the polls, which he is excluded from because he is not a Democrat or a Republican.

    Facts like this, readily available but unknown or ignored by the vast majority of journalists and members of civil society, have led me to conclude that we are currently living in what scholars of Russian politics call a “managed democracy”.

  9. I’ll take clowns like Abby Hoffman and Patch Adams over serious politicians like Barack Obama and Bill Frist any day. Send in the clowns.

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