Statement on AZGP Leadership Changes/Demands for Accountability
Statement from AZGP members RE: resignations of AZGP leaders Colette Jennings, Natalie Woods, & George Rascón; Demands for Action & Accountability
To whom it may concern,
Recently, the AZGP has experienced an unexpected change in leadership due to the resignation of our previous Co-Chair Colette Jennings, as well as those of two other young organizers of color involved in the Party’s leadership at the county and state level. Patterns of provocative and racially insensitive behavior have been exhibited by long-standing members of the AZGP, its State Committee, as well as at the county level in the GPPC, namely by AZGP Treasurer Cara Bissell.
We are taking this situation very seriously, as the kind of behavior exhibited by Ms. Bissell towards Ms. Jennings is both not in keeping with our Party’s 10 Key Values, as well as lacking in necessary levels of basic organizational professionalism and personal boundaries that ideally should not have to be explained. In her actions, Ms. Bissell has put both the county and state party in an uncomfortable position both publicly and privately, and has (whether intentionally or not) contributed to an organizing culture that is not the inclusive and welcoming space for young organizers of color that we want our Party to be.
Like all members of the Green Party, Ms. Bissell was allowed to speak about her interpretation of Green policy, but she abused that privilege by ignoring our Key Value of Respect for Diversity and attempting to force her viewpoint on others, specifically Ms. Jennings. When confronted about this by other members of the Party, including those in leadership, Ms. Bissell chose to double down on her actions rather than accept responsibility and accountability for her part in driving out multiple rising stars in the AZGP, essentially closing the door on any possible potential for amicable reconciliation, education, or restorative justice for those involved. Because of this, we, the undersigned, as members and elected leaders of the AZGP, have called for Ms. Bissell’s resignation from her posts in both state and county party leadership. While we appreciate Ms. Bissell’s past contributions and presence in the party, we cannot tolerate or abide behavior that puts the future of the AZGP and the comfort/safety of our members of color at risk in the way that Ms. Bissell’s has.
We are committed to do and be better, to ending a historic cycle of harm, to standing strong for the Green Party’s core Social Justice values, and to ensure that the AZGP, its county chapters, and its affiliated caucuses, are spaces where all members can feel welcome, secure, and valued in the pursuit of a Green society based on our 10 Key Values. While we unfortunately cannot change the past or undo the harm that has been done to these members of color, specifically to Ms. Jennings, we commit ourselves to eradicating the sources of these issues at their root. There will be a thorough revision of our bylaws and processes taking place immediately to codify expectations for volunteer and officer conduct that is in line with our values, with strict consequences for oppressive behaviors to prevent instances like this one from happening in the future. No longer will illegitimate dissent be tolerated which leads to a form of repressive tolerance that often can be an emblematic form of white privilege.
Cody Hannah, interim AZGP Co-Chair, YES-AZ Caucus Chair, AZGP Alternate GPUS Delegate
Liana West, AZGP 1st Vice-Co-Chair
Mike Cease, AZGP Secretary, GPPC Secretary, GPPC Precinct Captain #063
Sam Hales, AZGP Alternate GPUS Delegate, GPMC Representative
Penehuro Selusi, GPPC Precinct Captain #194
Vincent Jones, AZGP 2nd Vice Co-Chair/Assistant Treasurer
Amee Beck, AZGP Recorder, GPMC Representative
Brendan Trachsel, AZGP Member
Neil Simpson, AZGP Member
Brett Daniels, AZGP Member
Matt Smith, GPPC Precinct Captain #017
Lonnie Neil Kight, GPPC Precinct Captain #036
Amir Kia Pajouyan, GPPC Precinct Captain #117
Tom Racey, AZGP Member
Jaime Hall, GPPC Precinct Captain #069
Jeremiah DuBovis, AZGP Member
Rob Quarters, AZGP Member, YES-AZ Action Committee Chair
Ashley Gomez, GPPC 2nd Representative, YES-AZ member
Robin Gross, AZGP member, YES-AZ Education Committee Chair