Ex-presidential candidate Stein focuses talk on public health


For The Recorder
Published: 4/21/2017 1:52:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON — As a physician and former presidential candidate, Jill Stein said she has transitioned from clinical medicine to “political medicine,” tackling public health issues and environmental protection through activism and campaigning for elected office.

About 100 people attended Stein’s talk at Smith College’s Weinstein Auditorium, which was hosted by the Green Team, a student-led coalition geared toward fostering sustainability on campus.

The group’s president, McKenna Eckerline, has been trying to connect with Stein since the start of the school year. The Green Team had a chance to meet with Stein before the event on Wednesday and discussed campus issues such as becoming a sanctuary campus and divestment.

Stein ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 against Mitt Romney. She said the Green-Rainbow Party “tricked” her into running. She was the Green-Rainbow Party presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016. She also has served as an elected member of the Lexington Town Meeting.

As a physician, many of Stein’s concerns regard the state of public health and chronic disease such as the asthma epidemic, childhood cancer and learning disabilities.

“Our genes didn’t change overnight … We have some real public health issues that we didn’t have before,” Stein said. “If you’re exposed to lead, you’re going to have issues … including learning issues.”

Poor air quality and pollution have increased incidences of asthma as well as some types of cancer, according to Stein.

Stein said she’s advocating for a healthy and sustainable food system, and for “greening” the country’s energy supply.

Some hostility

Joyce Palmer-Fortune, a physics professor at Smith, helped the Green Team connect with Stein. Palmer-Fortune voted for Stein in 2002 and has seen her speak multiple times over the years. Palmer-Fortune said Stein’s talks “always leave me feeling better.”

Deborah Bix, an artist from Millers Falls, said much of what Stein had to say Wednesday was “hopeful” and “energizing.” Students like sophomore Emily Whittier, 21, said they were interested to see what Stein had to say.

But one person expressed anger toward Stein for running as a presidential candidate, given the outcome of the election.

During and after the election, many claimed that a vote for a third party was a vote for Donald Trump, but Stein said that is not the case.

“It’s important to remember that most Donald Trump voters weren’t for him,” Stein said. “They were against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”

Stein said people should vote for what their values are.

For this past election, Stein said, many people strategized how their votes would have the maximum impact, with many asking themselves, “which candidate do I hate the most?”

“Your vote should be your value,” Stein said. “Democracy is not a question of who do I hate the most and then vote against that person.”

Stein said that problem can be solved with ranked choice voting which is a system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. Maine was the first state to adopt this system.

And Stein said it’s a “win-win.”

“We have the power,” Stein said. “It’s time to use the power.”


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