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The Montana Green Party held its first statewide convention in 10 years Saturday at the University of Montana’s Payne Family Native American Center, where party supporters appointed committee members, elected a candidate for the upcoming special election and heard from Green Party 2016 presidential nominee Jill Stein via Skype.

The all-day convention included an informational workshop on petitioning, speeches from local organizations and free breakfast and lunch, complete with gluten-free and vegetarian options. The event was part of a larger effort on the Green Party’s behalf to work locally, according to party organizer Dani Breck.

“We’ve often been accused of only showing up for presidential elections,” Breck said. “So we’re trying to fix that. We’re focusing on local.”

The party’s priority, Breck said, is getting a slot on the state’s ballot for upcoming elections, including the at-large congressional district special election of 2017, in which a Montana representative will be elected to replace former Congressman Ryan Zinke.

Eight Democrats and seven Republicans are also vying for their parties’ nomination in the special election to replace Zinke, and both parties will hold nomination conventions in Helena – the Democrats on Sunday and the Republicans Monday.

Ron Vandevender, chair of the Montana Libertarian Party, said it will pick its candidate for the special election at a convention in Helena Saturday.

Breck said a Green Party option is important for Montanans who feel the Democrats no longer support the state’s true progressives. Montanans, Breck said, need a political party and representatives who support Native American communities, women, the LGBTQ community and renewable energy options.

Democrats locally and nationally have become far too moderate politically and corrupt morally, according to Montana Green Party Delegate and newly elected Treasurer Cheryl Wolfe.

“The goal of this convention is to give voters a choice,” Wolfe said, “if they don’t want to vote for a party controlled by corporate donors.”

Jill Stein reiterated many of these thoughts when she addressed more than 20 members of the Montana Green Party via Skype Saturday afternoon, despite many attempts at distraction caused by Stein’s adorably incessant cat, Willy, who pawed at Stein’s face and even unplugged her headphones.

Stein said her introduction into the political world was through her own health activism. As she watched a new generation of children grow up with ailments that seemed nonexistent in the past, including specific cancers, learning disorders and asthma, Stein said she learned about the harmful effects mercury and pollution were having on our nation’s children.

When Stein brought “win-win” solutions before her state’s legislature – renewable energy and recycling plans, budget cuts to a bloated military – Stein said the politicians wouldn’t even consider her measures. That was her “rude awakening.”

“The whole political scene is a scam,” Stein said. “We the people are silenced and talked out of our power.”

Stein said the majority of Americans are unhappy with the nation’s current political climate, and the presidential election of 2016 was only an illustration. Most supporters of President Donald Trump, Stein said, didn’t see their votes as being for Trump, but rather votes against Hillary Clinton.

Greetings Montanans! I’m Thomas Breck and I’m running as the Green Party’s candidate in the May 25th special election for Montana’s sole congressional seat. Actions motivated by Bernie Sander’s bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. My wife Danielle Breck, and I passionately organized and campaigned our way through the primary season, and we attended the Montana Democratic convention as Bernie delegates. While at the convention our enthusiasm and belief in the democratic election of delegates were dashed, as party insiders had already determined who would (or perhaps wouldn’t) be attending the national convention in Philadelphia. Critical oversight rulings were amended mid-process to ensure a favorable outcome for specific candidates. Thus our commitment to the Green Party emerged.

Fortunately, moving forward we expanded our existing research and political morality into an existing political party truly founded on progressive community rooted ideals. A party that will never take corporate donations from the Fossil Fuel industry or any other entity that seeks to minimize, oppress or otherwise further disempower underrepresented and minority communities.  A party that cares about social and economic justice. A party that is willing and unafraid to stand up and say Native Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, and this Planet, our mother, matters! We immediately began our petitioning efforts to secure this amazing party’s presidential candidate ballot access here in Montana, and in two short months we exceeded our goal of 5000 signatures, and ultimately having collected more than 12000 in our efforts across the state. Since those elections we have begun serious and highly organized efforts to revive the Green Party here in Montana. We now engage in petitioning efforts to qualify the Greens for the 2018 primary season, helping to organize our first state convention in over a decade. Now at the behest of our young & old Montana Green Party I am running to become our first Green Party Congress Representative.

I am a devoted husband and the father of 3 beautiful daughters who are the center of my universe and the reason I want to make our world a more just and loving place. 39 years on this planet has taught me solutions are real and possible so long as reason and discourse are achieved. So on behalf of our children, and for the posterity of future generations, I am standing up and running for the current open congressional seat on the Green Party ticket.  This is a fight that reaches beyond the (2) party system as evidenced by the more than 50% of US voters who chose to sit out in past elections. I will fight to reform the power structure in D.C and give people back control of our democracy, because people not voting is in no way a result of complacency on their part, but because the (2) Party system fails repeatedly to provide them with the sort of ethical candidate to place their vote. I will stand up for our planet and all its inhabitants to protect it and us from those who presently seek to destroy our homes in the name profit. If I’m elected to congress I will never cease in the fight for all human rights here locally, nationally and internationally; I will fight diligently for environmentally sound business and jobs creation here in the state of Montana for a more realistic long term and sustainable economy; and most importantly to fight to protect the headwaters of the Nation’s major watersheds.  

Born the eldest son of my father a saw mill worker and a my mother a proud homemaker in Chehalis, Washington. When I was a young child the Mill my father worked for, along with many others across the state, closed due to the collapse of the Timber industry.  As a result my parents were forced to move our family away from home in search of work.  We settled in Texas, where my father first found work in the oil fields and later as a carpenter.  Not long after a serious work related injury to his spine found us once again struggling to manage financially. As a teenager we left Texas and went to stay with my father’s brother, in his home state of California. We would spend the next fews years bouncing between the sunny California coast and the biggest little city in the world, Reno Nevada. Showing later physical health improvements, my father went back into the construction trade to make a living.  When I was older I began working alongside my father and learning the trades & skills he embraced which would later become my life for nearly two decades. The journey to find my place in the world and an my own identity landed me in Salt Lake City where I applied my trade in the pre Olympics construction boom.

By the spring of 2000 I had decided to experience the northwest and moved to Portland, Oregon.  During a brief stop to visit my parents in the Sun Valley area of Idaho, I met my best friend Danielle, who would later become my wife and the mother of my three beautiful daughters. It’s a time that exists amidst the most cherished times in my life and In the fall of 2004, when our oldest daughter was not quite two, we moved to Missoula so my wife could pursue her education at the University of Montana.

In 2008 the ongoing crashes and instability in the economy made working as a carpenter untenable. Looking towards the future I enrolled at the University Of Montana, and after some time and a only a few declared majors, I became completely focused on public policy. This learned drive to build and get engaged in process that organically merged with Danielle’s passion for activism, organizing, and political engagement; the result is a drive to advance progressive politics outside of the (2) party system free of billionaire out of state corporate monetary influence. We have an undying supply of optimism, and an unwavering passion for social justice. My beliefs in the needs and for making change are only matched by my hope in the possibilities of a lasting and brighter green future for us all.