Jerry Kann has made his living in New York City since the late 1980s in a variety of odd jobs--proofreader, copywriter, messenger, secretary--all while pursuing the very challenging avocation of independent politics. For years Kann's primary goal as an activist has been to help establish a new, independent political party of working people.
Kann joined Labor Party Advocates in 1994 and was active in the Labor Party until 2000. A registered but dissatisfied Democrat during the 1980s and '90s, Kann joined the Green Party in 2000 to volunteer for Ralph Nader's first full-out campaign for President. He worked as an independent contractor for Nader's 2004 campaign and volunteered for Nader in 2008. He was also a Nader delegate to the Green Party national convention in Milwaukee in 2004. As secretary and later as treasurer of the Green Party Office in Manhattan from 2002 to 2006, Kann worked with a very fine group of Green activists trying to build the Green Party in New York City.
Running as a Green in three campaigns for New York City Council in his home district of Astoria, Queens, Kann won 20 percent of the vote in 2003 on contributions of about $2500 (compared to the incumbent's $200,000). With an endorsement statement from Ralph Nader, Kann faced the same incumbent in 2005. In that campaign, Kann drew fire from both major parties, as his opponent ran on both Democratic and Republican ballot lines.
An early member of Greens for Democracy and Independence (under the leadership of Peter Camejo of California), Kann and others tried for several years to convince their fellow Green Party members to declare full independence from the Democratic Party. After a long fight on basic questions of the Greens' identity and long-term goals, Kann finally quit the Green Party in June 2009 and registered as a Populist, running again for City Council in 2009 and 2013.
During 2011 and 2012, Kann had an especially hard time finding anyone willing to publish an article (or even a letter) about his formal complaint against Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The complaint built a very solid case demonstrating that the mayor violated campaign finance law in his 2009 re-election campaign.
Kann remains ready, willing, and able to debate the essential question of independence and the urgent need for a new, militant, major political party in all public forums.
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