An Interview with Arcata City Councilor Jason Kirkpatrick

2010-01-15 from:Democracy Unlimited author:Paul Cienfuegos

P: You're beginning the final year of your four-year term. What are you feeling most driven to still accomplish?

J: I'd really like to see us begin to redirect our public money towards community needs and away from distant companies doing god-knows-what on another corner of the earth. We have so many places we could use it, such as low-income housing, or possibly for small business start up loans. It's odd that some city councils speak out against Wal-Marts because these "big box" stores drain profits out of a community, and then the same local governments send their entire investment portfolio out of town. We could also put some of our $7-9 million that we invest annually into socially responsible investments. It was the divestiture movement that helped to end apartheid in South Africa and I'd like to see us set a trend that demonstrates how local government can solve its own problems with its own local money.

It's odd that some city councils speak out against Wal-Marts ... and then the same local governments send their entire investment portfolio out of town.

P: I understand you recently received a small grant from the California Green Party to launch a Greening Cities Project. Why the focus on cities?

J: My strategy for achieving a better society is to implement change at the grassroots or community level. I don't think we are going to see much positive change coming out of the modern day nation-state or the entities that will most likely be replacing them in coming decades such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). Free trade agreements like the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and free trade associations like the European Economic Community (EEC) will be eliminating the ability of the nation-state to fulfill its traditional role. This shift will leave a power void. I believe this void will be filled, at least in part, by municipal governments. From my experience gained on the Arcata City Council, and through networking with the Greens whom I've visited in 11 countries, I think we need to build a serious municipalist movement that begins to learn how to problem-solve locally and then work together to meet the needs of the greater society.

Municipal governments regularly give huge sums of money for large development projects ?even though ?the growth generally ends up costing the city more over time due to increased maintenance of infrastructure ...

P: What kind of work will you mostly be doing?

J: I am compiling a manual on how to get elected to local office, as well as editing a video of eight locally-elected greens from all over the country talking about what they have learned in office. I'm sending this information out to every local chapter in California and making it available to any other greens who want it. After this is done I'll be spending more time networking with green locals regarding municipal issues or campaigns they may be facing. I hope one day to have funds to create a really strong organization.

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