Just 750 people in the Bronx call themselves Green Party members. But back in 1999, that number was 14.
“It’s definitely growing,” said Aesha Valencia, 27, who lives in the Norwood section of the Bronx and is Green Party-registered. “There’s a lot of people out there who want to put the planet first.”
Valencia said she’s tired of two-party loyalists telling her that she’s throwing away her vote or helping to get the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, elected.
“That’s just fear tactics. The whole point of voting is to get each individual perspective of who they think will make the country better,” she said. “I’m not a hippie. I just understand the bond between us and the Earth.”
Valencia is studying political science at Lehman College, but said her financial aid was cut-off after her mother started earning more money. Now she needs to work full-time to pay for her tuition. With work, she can only take one class a semester.
She said Jill Stein, this year’s Green Party nominee, is sympathetic to her struggle.
“Her understanding about canceling the debt for college students makes you think ‘Wow, she wants me to succeed’,” Valencia said.
Disappointed with Obama, Valencia started researching the Green Party in 2012. “It took a little while,” she said. “We had to find where the Green Party headquarters were.”
Eventually, she requested flyers, bumper stickers and lawn signs from the Stein campaign. 797 people have liked the Facebook page, Bronx 4 Jill Stein.
Valencia, who’s a vegetarian, said the Green Party felt like home. She meets with other Bronx residents on Monday evenings to pick up trash along the Bronx River Parkway and watches documentaries on ” the industrial uses of hemp” and ” the interconnection between people in politics and the rich.”
After this year’s election is thrown into history, Valencia will keep trying to drive up the number of Green Party members in the Bronx.
“It’s a no brainer,” she said. “If the environment we’re in is destroyed then we’re not too far behind.”
William Noqueras, 50, who lives in the North Bronx, also will be voting for Stein. He’s been volunteering for the campaign for months.
“Not many people in the Bronx are going to say no to those issues – $15 minimum wage, free childcare and college,” he said. “If they’re voting for Hillary Clinton, they don’t know about Jill Stein.”
Although national polls show Stein capturing but 2 percent of the vote, Noqueras still believes his candidate has a chance at the White House.
“We got a momentum,” he said. “Jill is flooding the country.”
Alaska was the first state to put the Green Party on the ballot in 1990, according to Ballotpedia, an online encyclopedia of United States politics and elections. It’s the nation’s fourth largest political party and has 248,189 members.
Camella Pinkney Price, 54, who lives in the Soundview section of the Bronx, showed up to P.S. 93 elementary school to cast her vote for Stein.
“Everyone says she can’t win, but you don’t know what could happen,” Pinkney Price said. “I want to practice democracy. I want to vote for who I choose.”
As she walked through the poll site, she called out people’s names and kissed many of them on the cheek. She’s lived in the neighborhood her whole life.
“They’re mostly Hillary,” she said. “But I’m not. That’s what makes me odd.”
She was impressed when Stein got arrested during protests against the North Dakota pipeline and said she doesn’t want any responsibility for what Hillary Clinton might do in office.
“I know what she did in Haiti. At least when that stuff happens, I can say I wasn’t a part of it.”
“I’m voting for Jill Stein,” she called out to Marilyn Reed, a longtime friend and poll worker.
Reed broke out laughing.
“She’s a nut,” Reed said.
Read all our Bronx Votes 2016 coverage here.