Whenever I seek to provide a political context for myself I always start with the fact that I was born into “the American Third World”. That is, I was born and raised in deep poverty. I know what it feels like to be a hungry child in this wealthy nation and I know what it feels like to be discarded by society. I will always share this not for myself but for the many millions of Americans trapped in some variation of “the American Third World” who are the focus of my political activity.
My parents, both born in Texas, came to the Midwest as migrant farmworkers. I have six sisters and a brother, half of us did not graduate from high-school. All of us who dropped out of high-school graduated from University. While this is an a-typical story it is not unheard of among Latinx raised in poverty in this country. The American educational system routinely discards youth of color.
As a young person I worked many difficult demeaning jobs, but eventually graduated from the University of Toledo. Afterwards I worked in several social service jobs, monitoring child care providers, finding non-agricultural jobs for migrant farmworkers, and in case management for the severely mentally ill. As a case manager I was both honored and challenged to be of assistance to people who were struggling with some of life’s most difficult issues, abuse, homelessness, substance abuse, and poverty, along with severe and persistent mental illness. I was elected shop steward/ executive delegate for SEIU/1199 and was appointed as a delegate representing SEIU/1199 on the Regional Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.
What these experiences taught me was that all the good works we do in communities is important but if our government does not provide an adequate infrastructure for education, health care, criminal justice, housing, mass transit, nutrition, and energy there will always be people who fall through the cracks. Government determines the quality of our infrastructure and politics determines the quality of our government. Throughout my lifetime neither democrat nor republican governments addressed the needs of my community so I started seeking alternative political parties and came to the Green Party.
I joined the GP in 2000 and worked to get Nader on the ballot in Ohio. In 2001 I was elected one of three co-chairs of the entity that would become the Green Party National Committee. I was part of the leadership team that obtained National Committee status for the Green Party.
Building the Green Party and in particular the Ohio Green Party has been an almost full-time job for me since 2000. Since that time I have been on the central committee of the Ohio Green Party and have served as Co-Chair for several years. I was recently elected to a another two year term as Co-chair. In 2004 I helped with the Ohio recount and was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State to prevent the certification of that election. In 2008 I participated in the legal action that gained Party status for the Ohio GP. In 2014 I ran for Governor of Ohio and by receiving over 3% (over 100,000 votes) of the votes maintained political party status for the Ohio Green Party for four years. I was the Green Party candidate for Toledo city council in 2011 got over 30% of the vote. In 2006 and 2010 I was the GP candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio.
I have been married for 37 years to Robert Hannon who is a letter carrier. We have two grown sons. I decided to retire last year due the difficulty in finding a job. I lost my part time job as a patient advocate in 2013 when Ohio's “TRAP” laws caused the closure of the abortion clinic where I was working. I continue to work as an activist on numerous issues including serving as the President of the Agnes Reynolds Jackson Fund which raises money to pay for abortions for low income women.
Poverty is not a lifestyle choice it is imposed by an economic system that picks winners and losers and by a society that has failed its most vulnerable members. Poverty is a global man-made disaster. Despite the tremendous wealth of this nation we are not immune because our government is indifferent to the needs of poor people and of the working class, and continues to squander a tremendous amount of tax dollars on relentless war. The same greed that is behind America's ability to accept poverty as inevitable is also behind our indifference to climate change and the destruction of the natural world. It is my belief that with an Eco-Socialist focus the Green Party is the right tool for fighting both socio-economic and ecological injustice.