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 Greens Committees of Correspondence (GCoC) – the first national U.S. Greens organization – began publishing its quarterly Greens Bulletin in 1985/1986, news of individual Green candidates and officeholders first began to be compiled and shared there.
Local Green groups (CoCs) received the Greens Bulletin and read with enthusiasm photocopy reprints of news articles about these pioneering Green candidates. This was years before web pages, and years before large image files were sent by email – meaning the early Greens Bulletins was the main way such info of early candidates was widely distributed.
First comprehensive national report
Then in 1992, the first year that large numbers of U.S. Greens ran for office, the GCoC clearinghouse in Kansas City, Missouri 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 ever.
Ongoing compilation of Green elections
Starting in 1994, Mike Feinstein (CA) began periodically publishing ongoing lists of 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 GreenPages 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 contained election results for all Green candidates who ran that year.
Starting in 1998, Feinstein began to publish and update a list of 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.
First Green elections data base
By 2000, the number of candidates began to be too large to be managed by one person, and 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 effectuate this, Feinstein worked with Kendra (a Green with data base and coding skills from Northern California) to co-design a web-based data base and website to track and feature all Green candidates and officeholders.
(This pre-dated the formation of the Green Party of the United States (GPUS), which was not founded until July 2001 the following year – and it’s recognition by the Federal Elections Commission, which occurred in November 2001.)
The new elections data base 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 and it featured the numerical results for each election, and links to the candidates campaign web site, the governmental election results websites, and media articles about their campaigns.
Once the data base 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 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 election officials across the country, from state offices down to small towns and villages. As a result of that cumulative research, a historical record listing known Greens who ran for office since 1985 was completed in the data base, 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 over the years.
Even though the GPUS did not create the Elections Data Base, it referenced and treated it as the data base 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 data base was gradually transferred from Feinstein as an individual to the GPUS as an organization via the CCC. Feinstein stayed on to help input and manage 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 members would have access to the data to publish information about their state.
A few years later, GPUS Political Director/Executive Director Brent McMillan became involved in gathering the data and ultimately assumed full administrative responsibility for maintaining the data base, and Feinstein played a supporting role for McMillian. In 2008, the GPUS Steering Committee authorized Matt Cleveland (PA) to create a new data base, into which the information from the existing data base was imported.
In 2016, it came time to upgrade the data base, and Kendra was retained to create a new data base, which has been in use since 2017 at www.gpelections.org.
Since 2017, the Elections Data Base Co-Administrators are Feinstein and David Doonan (NY), who is also the GPUS Webmaster. Several state parties have also designated their own State Party Data Base Agents (similar to the old state party associates), who enter data about their own states, working under the oversight of the co-administrators.