Tony Ndege – Steering Committee Candidacy Bio & Statement
It is a special honor to accept the nomination by my delegation and by my state party for Steering Committee co-chair. Although it is not a GPUS requirement to receive state party endorsement to run for Steering Committee, as co-chair of the North Carolina Green Party, it was imperative that my state members and fellow officers agree to run me for Steering Committee before I accept my nomination.
Why? Because it is critical that in order to make the most well-informed decisions towards building a grassroots national party such as ours, our Steering Committee members must have experience in building their state party and organizing at the state and local levels. In a system so overwhelmingly dominated by the influence of corporate power, building a state party must a protracted grassroots struggle. There are no shortcuts. No one is going to hand us all the tools or magically lead us to bigger victories. However, if we can successfully organize ourselves as a national federation of parties and caucuses in true solidarity, if we can assist our state parties in taking on the work of bringing the best of our already fantastic national platform to The People, and if we can clearly define to The People where we stand and that we stand with their struggles, then together we can and we will change the course of American politics.
Organizer Experience and Entry into Green Party:
My name is Tony Ndege, (the ending of my last name sounds a lot like reggae). I am a public school educator and I'm heading back into the IT field. I also have professional experience in music, film production, and directing. I have degrees from UNC Greensboro and North Carolina School of the Arts conservatory. My experience as an activist/organizer began when I was a high school student over two decades ago.
I have organized from the local to national level for social justice, labor justice, the rights of immigrants and the undocumented, against war and military intervention, against the US embargo on Cuba, and against water contamination from coal ash and pollution. I have been a lead organizer for a wide range of major movements and events locally and nationally: from NC #BlackLivesMatter to Occupy Wall Street, from the largest-ever protests against Duke Energy (one of the largest polluters in the nation) and uplifting the demand to make energy publicly owned, to protesting Bank of America and Wells Fargo’s criminal malfeasance, to the largest statewide and national actions against the second Iraq War. I have led or co-organized several hundred events including rallies, marches, teach-ins, debates, films, concerts, speaker tours, campaigns, immigration defense, political theater, etc. Professionally and artistically I have organized, assisted with, and performed in hundreds of events including auditions, interviews, concerts, plays, short films, operas, etc. I am happy to discuss any of these experiences further during the discussion period or via email or phone call. Please visit this link for an overview of some of my organizer experience: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1eViqLnMkuQHQ79MPfTuV4I6LpBX8IgB7
My experience with the Green Party began as an Occupy Wall Street activist and co-organizer of the DNC protests in Charlotte in 2012, where I first met Jill Stein. Subsequently, I participated in the Global Climate Convergence as a lead organizer for two events in my state. In 2015, in cooperation with Bruce Dixon and the North Carolina GP leadership, I co-organized a four-city cross-state tour for Jill Stein. I eventually became the North Carolina Ballot Access Coordinator and later the State Volunteer Coordinator for the Stein/Baraka campaign. Later, I had the honor to serve as Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for the Stein/Baraka campaign, where I had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with thousands of Greens and supporters across the region. During my time as Regional Coordinator, I got to see firsthand what were the strengths, weaknesses, and obstacles various states had in building and executing statewide and national campaigns. Subsequently in 2016, I was elected co-chair of the NC Green Party. I also serve on the GPUS Ballot Access Committee as the southeast regional coordinator, and I am a member of the Black Caucus.
Some of the goals I hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member are as follows:
- Help lead the GPUS towards serious discussion about party organization and set concrete attainable goals from these discussions.
- Institute a clear and realistic plan going into 2019 to “campaign” key aspects of our platform in tandem with a national – and visible – ballot access drive. We will help states, even those without major local campaigns, to emphasize the full scope of their platform as though they are campaigning, well before 2020. We will mobilize our members and supporters to achieve ballot access as early as possible in 2018 and 2019. From this organizing work, we will identify both state and metropolitan/regional coordinators well before the 2020 presidential campaign.
- Improve the clarity of our platform while strongly communicating to the public the necessity to build independent party power. We can do this, in part, by dramatically increasing Green “citizen-journalism” and media training to produce high-quality media pieces that are short and easy to digest. In particular, we need to report not only about elections, but also from regions that are at the center of political struggle, areas where capitalism has most egregiously failed our society, and events that highlight the parts of our platform that resonate the most with everyday people.
- Orient more of our party focus towards people who are disenfranchised and typically disengaged from politics, who are understandably frustrated with the political system, and towards people who are less likely to be swayed by the fear machine of “lesser-evilism.”
- Increase true national solidarity and outreach as a party, particularly in the areas of ballot access support and fundraising.
Achievements with North Carolina Green Party:
As co-chair of the North Carolina Green Party, while I never feel that my work is complete, I have helped to co-lead our state towards several key accomplishments that I hope serve as proof of my dedication to the party and my work ethic.
Historic Ballot Access Victory for North Carolina
In North Carolina, one of our greatest accomplishments was our historic election results for Stein/Baraka as write-in candidates – we earned almost 13,000 write-in votes, the highest number of write-in votes for a candidate in North Carolina history! We accomplished this in a “swing state,” despite a great deal of misinformation about whether votes would count (including false information broadcast on North Carolina Public Radio that write-in votes for Stein/Baraka would not count). We accomplished this success via meetings with supporters in every major city, and thanks to fantastic volunteer organization and personal motivation of so many of our supporters! Our write-in campaign results were a major factor in passing legislation in fall 2017 that dramatically lowers our ballot access signature requirements from over 94,000 to about 12,000 signatures – and the new law also contains a provision that would give us an automatic ballot line based upon our national party’s ballot access during the previous presidential election. Based upon these new laws, and with the help of a grant from the GPUS, the North Carolina GP expects to have ballot access for the first time ever – the first progressive or left party to achieve North Carolina ballot access in over 35 years!
Other NCGP accomplishments during my short time as co-chair:
- NCGP has grown from one functioning local to four, on the cusp of five region-wide locals. We plan on adding another region or two and adding several chapters within each region over the next 1 to 2 years.
- NCGP has successfully restructured our state party into a dues-paying organization while significantly increasing membership.
- NCGP has successfully added critical updates to our bylaws and platform with overwhelming consensus.
- NCGP has forged new alliances with grassroots organizations, including an organization that has founded multiple worker cooperatives.
- NCGP has co-organized several events, such as helping coordinate a statewide tour of Dr. Margaret Flowers and a presentation by Ajamu Baraka before our Spring Gathering.
- NCGP has begun to run campaigns around several key issues, such as Energy Democracy, Universal Healthcare, Marijuana Legalization/Drug Decriminalization, and Mass Incarceration, and the demand for a major study of true unemployment figures for our state.
- My local, Triad Area Greens, worked on its first electoral campaign – for CJ Brinson for city council – where I served as a fundraiser and assistant campaign coordinator and other Triad members served as treasurer and event hosts. CJ very narrowly lost the primary by a handful of votes to establishment Democrats. He had a great showing for a first-time independent candidate and missed a recount challenge to the incumbent candidate by only one vote.
In my experience, actions speak much louder than words. I hope that my achievements, which required the cooperation and leader-full action of so many wonderful people in my state party, speak for themselves. I have been organizing a long time, rarely for pay or title, and my motto is that I never ask of anyone anything that I am not willing to do myself. However, it is also essential to trust, foster, and elevate the many talents and abilities of others in areas where I know they can do as well or better than I can. While I sometimes may have strong opinions, my extensive collaborative experience demonstrates that I am always willing to work with others and do what is best for our party, our people, and our planet. I am looking forward to collaborating with all of you!
With Kindest Regards and Solidarity,
North Carolina GP Co-chair
Stein/Baraka 2016 Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Stein/Baraka NC State Volunteer Coordinator
GP-US Ballot Access Committee South-East Regional Coordinator
GP-US Alternate Delegate