VOXXI.com and Bay Area Indymedia have both published interviews with Luis Rodriguez, well-known Chicano author and activist and California Green Party candidate for Governor.
The California Greens still need volunteer help to put Rodriguez and the other CA Green candidates for statewide office on the ballot. Click here to find out how you can help.
Luis J. Rodriguez is an ambitious man, to say the least. Come November of this year, he hopes to turn the blue state of California green as well as completely reform the state’s prison, health, and education systems as the Green Party of California’s gubernatorial candidate.
“I’m running to demand an end to poverty, an end to our poisoned environment, an end to poor schools and a bloated prison industry,” he explained via email as he traveled the state. It’s a tall, practically impossible order, but one he feels destined for.
“I’ve been riding a thread that has been with me since birth, born on the border of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico,” he continued. “That thread has to do with injustice, poverty, and being locked out of the decision-making processes in this country. I’m committed to changing this for everyone.”
Rodriguez is well-known in Chicano literary circles for his 1993 memoir, “Always Running,” where he chronicled his days as a young and troubled gang member and drug addict. (Credit: rodriguezforgovernor.org)
Chicano activist Luis J. Rodriguez
Rodriguez is well-known in Chicano literary circles for his 1993 memoir, “Always Running,” where he chronicled his days as a young and troubled gang member and drug addict. His salvation came thanks to the intervention of a community center counselor and his own love of books and writing.
He returned the favor by helping other youth escape the horrors of gang life and drug use, eventually becoming an educator and activisthelping communities across the world.
“I’ve had forty years helping youth turn their lives around, including in gangs from East L.A., South Central, Chicago, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and more,” he said. “I’ve done this through nonprofits like Chicago’s Guild Complex, based on the literary arts; Youth Struggling for Survival, working with mentors and gang/non-gang youth; and L.A.’s Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, a full-fledge cultural space and bookstore.”
Rodriguez has turned to these experiences to build the basis of his platform. He wants to end poverty in California by creating a universal system of healthcare and education for all Californians by using tax revenue from the state’s commercial ports, an oil severance tax, and other means to achieve this.
“Education and healthcare, like food, shelter, and clothing, are necessities,“ he claimed. “There is money—it’s just being used to benefit the wealthy and powerful.”
He believes that providing these necessities is key to ending the spiral of poverty and crime that befall many. Ending this spiral is key to improving people’s lives thereby improving the state.
Rodriguez supporters are currently winding down their “100 For 200” campaign to add his name to the ballot in November. (Credit: rodriguezforgovernor.org)
“I’m convinced—and I’m not the only one—that punishment does not work as a corrections philosophy,” he continued. “That giving youth isolated prison cells, years and years of warehousing, and inhumane treatment only makes things worse. I would propose turning the tax dollars used to house prisoners—$43,000 per person a year in adult prisons, and $252,000 per juvenile—can be better utilized by providing mental and drug treatment, jobs training, education, restorative justice practices, healing practices, the arts, spiritual engagement, rites of passage, mentoring, and such.”
His supporters are currently winding down their “100 For 200” campaign to add his name to the ballot in November. California law requires candidates to submit a minimum of 10, 000 signatures of support to add their name to the ballot by February 20th.
“The new state election rules are meant to discourage and undermine third parties and other independent voices,” Rodriguez explained, “but we’ll turn this into our advantage” by setting a goal of obtaining twice the minimum required.
“If we get twice the number, we’ll guarantee enough good signatures,” he continued. “This is a serious campaign, not symbolic. We aim to win as a grassroots, from the ground up, movement.”