Greens first started running for office in the United States in 1985. At that time, the decentralized nature of U.S. Greens meant that there was no central, comprehensive listing of all candidates and officeholders.
However as the Committees of Correspondence (CoC) — the first national U.S. Greens organization — began publishing its periodic Greens Bulletin in 1985, news of individual Green candidates and officeholders first began to be compiled and shared there. Soon afterwards the COC was renamed the Green Committees of Correspondence , with affiliated local Green groups known as ‘GCoCs.’
As part of their affiliation with the CoC/GCoC, these local Green groups received the Greens Bulletin — and read with enthusiasm photocopy reprints of news articles about these pioneering Green candidates. This was many years before web pages, and many years before large image files were sent by email – meaning the early Greens Bulletins were the main way such info about early Green candidates was widely distributed.
First comprehensive national report
In 1992, the first year that large numbers of U.S. Greens ran for office, the GCoC clearinghouse in Kansas City, MO published a November 1992 national Greens election report and the first-ever comprehensive list of Greens currently holding office. These were big steps for U.S. Greens, compiling and publicizing this information in this manner for the first time.
Ongoing compilation of Green elections
Starting in 1994, Mike Feinstein (CA) began periodically publishing ongoing updated lists of Green candidates and officeholders via the old email@example.com (and firstname.lastname@example.org) email lists hosted by the San Francisco-based Institute for Global Communications – which was the primary electronic means of communications among U.S. Greens at the time.
In 1994 Feinstein was aided with this effort by Dale McMillan (VA) and Hank Chapot (CA), and in 1998 by Ben Krompak (OH). During this period, this list of Green candidates became the ‘list of record’ for use by U.S. Greens.
In 1997 Feinstein became the editor of the newly created Green Pages newsletter of the newly formed Association of State Green Parties — which was an organizational precursor to today’s Green Party of the United States. Each issue of Green Pages contained an up-to-date list of Green officeholders; and the 2000 post-election issue also contained election results for all Green candidates who ran that year.
Starting in 1998, Feinstein began to publish and update a list of Green candidates and officeholders on his own website at www.feinstein.org/greenparty/elections, so people didn’t have to depend upon only the email@example.com email list, and could also go to a specific page on the web to find this information.
First Green elections database
By 2000, the number of candidates began to be too large to be managed by one person through the use of static .html web pages and emails. Feinstein also felt it was time to move this party-based information from his personal web site to a party-based one. To effectuate this, Feinstein worked with Kendra (a Green with database and coding skills from Northern California) to co-design a web-based elections database and website to track and feature all Green candidates and officeholders.
This work pre-dated the formation of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS), which was not founded until July 2001 the following year – and before its recognition by the Federal Elections Commission, which occurred in November 2001.
The new elections database site was hosted on the historic www.greens.org web site — managed by San Jose, CA Green Cameron Spitzer — which at the time served as a de facto home page for links to state Green parties across the U.S. (and provinces in Canada), along with links to other Green Parties around the world. The specific URL was www.greens.org/elections. It featured the numerical results for each election, and links to the candidates’ campaign web sites, governmental election results websites, and media articles about their campaigns.
Once the new elections database was established in 2000, it became important to back-fill the historical record of Greens having run since 1985. Since Feinstein had been compiling most of that information since 1994 – and since there was the CCoC 1992 election report – many of the records from 1992 forward were already available, although there were gaps that required further investigation and research. However in addition, there was no central place to find comprehensive information about Green candidates before 1992, going back to 1985.
Researching Green elections history
Between 2000 and 2002, Feinstein did extensive research to document these early candidacies. It involved reviewing numerous historical documents from the old GCoC, from the Green Party Organizing Committee of the early 1990s, as well as from individual state Green parties and Green locals. It also involved phone calls to dozens of present and formerly involved Greens, as well as to governmental election officials across the country, from state elections offices down to small towns and villages. As a result of that research, a historical record listing known Greens who ran for office since 1985 was added to the database and made available for public use.
That compilation also used a consistent definition of what constitutes a Green Party candidate and/or officeholder that remains in use today, providing an apples-to-apples comparison of Green candidates and officeholders over the years.
Even though the newly founded GPUS did not create the Elections Database, it referenced and treated it as the database of record. Between 2002 and 2004, at the instigation of Feinstein and Juscha Robinson (WI), who was Co-chair of the GPUS Coordinated Campaign Committee (CCC), official control of the database was gradually transferred from Feinstein as an individual to the GPUS as an organization via the CCC. Feinstein remained in his role inputting and managing the data, and the CCC adopted the de facto definition of who is a Green candidate and/or officeholder that was already in use. The CCC also implemented a ‘state associate’ program where state party-designated party members would also have access to the database to publish information about Greens running in their state.
A few years later, then GPUS Political Director/Executive Director Brent McMillan became involved in gathering the data and ultimately assumed full administrative responsibility for maintaining the database, as part of his official job description with the GPUS, and Feinstein played a supporting role for McMillian. In 2008, the GPUS Steering Committee authorized Matt Cleveland (PA) to create a new database, into which the information from the existing database was imported.
In 2016, it came time to upgrade the database, and Kendra was retained to create a new database, which has been in use since 2017 at www.gpelections.org. From 2017 to 2020, the Elections Database Co-Administrators were Feinstein and David Doonan (NY), who is also the GPUS Webmaster. In 2021, the GPUS created the position of Elections Database Manager and retained Feinstein in that role.
Starting in 2020, several state parties have also designated their own State Party Database Agents (similar to the old state party associates), who enter data about their own states, working under Feinstein’s oversight in his role as Elections Database Manager.