FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Cheri Honkala and Green Party of Pennsylvania Vow to Appeal Court Ruling and to Continue Campaign for State Representative
Honkala argues that the 197th District Cannot Afford Another Corrupt Politician; Needs an Advocate who Lives in the District and Fights for Their Interests.
Today, February 15, the Commonwealth Court ruled to not accept the Petition for Writ of Mandamus placed by the Green Party of Pennsylvania and Cheri Honkala. The Writ was to compel the state to accept Cheri’s nomination papers and place her name on the Green Party ballot line for the special election to be held on March 21 to replace Leslie Acosta as Representative of Pennsylvania House District 197.
The Green Party of Pennsylvania and Cheri Honkala will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court tomorrow morning. “We will file an appeal to the state Supreme Court,” said lawyer Samuel Stretton. “This decision ignores the fact that the Green Party is entitled to have a candidate on the ballot. The endorsed Green Party candidate is Cheri Honkala. This is not a situation like a primary election where multiple people are allowed to run in a party primary. The election code allows individual parties to nominate someone as their candidate.” Stretton continued, “This is classic First Amendment freedom of speech and association violated. The Green Party is being denied their choice while the Democratic and Republican parties are allowed to have their choice. The voters’ right to vote is being violated.”
Cheri Honkala, who has advocated for poor and homeless persons in and around the 197th district for the past 30 years, vowed to continue her campaign. “We will appeal this decision tomorrow, and, if necessary, proceed to educate voters on how to write-in my name on March 21st. This district has had two representatives in a row, both of whom happened to be Democrats, that have resigned on federal corruption charges. We need a new voice to advocate for our district in Harrisburg.”
In November 2016, two Green Party candidates for statewide office, Jay Sweeney for Auditor General and Kristin Combs for State Treasurer, each received over 150,000 votes. This allowed GPPA to regain minor party status and secure automatic ballot status in special elections. As a result, citizens can more easily register to vote as Greens*, and the party can more easily field candidates in special elections.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Commissions, Election and Legislation denied the Green Party’s nomination certificate because it was turned in one day late on January 31st. However, Green Party leaders noted that they spoke with BCEL officials on January 30th, and were told all of the paperwork was complete. “I specifically asked if there was anything else we needed to do to place Cheri on the ballot and was told, ‘no,’” said Hillary Kane, Treasurer of Cheri Honkala’s campaign for State Representative and outgoing Secretary of the Green Party of Pennsylvania. “The second we learned we were missing a document we immediately completed the paperwork, rushed it to Harrisburg, and were there within 24 hours. The Green Party earned a ballot line. A majority of Americans want more than the two major parties. Our Commonwealth must prioritize democratic integrity and voter expression over bureaucratic maneuvers to uphold politics-as-usual.”
Former State Representative Leslie Acosta is the second Democrat representing the 197th District in a row to resign after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges. Acosta secretly pleaded guilty in March 2016, keeping this knowledge from her constituents until finally resigning almost a full year later in January 2017. She herself took office after winning a special election in 2014 to replace J.P. Miranda, who pled guilty to having a “ghost employee” on his payroll after which he resigned.
Edgardo Gonzalez, Honkala’s campaign chairman, said, “It’s time to elect someone with integrity who puts the interests of 197th District before personal profit. Cheri Honkala lives in this district and has fought for the people in and around this district for over 30 years. The people of the 197th are struggling and cannot afford another politician beholden to personal business interests--someone who was hand-picked by the outgoing, corrupt Leslie Acosta.”
“Cheri is beholden to no one but the people in these neighborhoods who encouraged her to run. As the founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, she has spent her life standing up to injustices and fighting for people to have the basic necessities to survive. She has slept on the street with them and taken them into her home. She has fought for their children’s education and against welfare cuts. She has helped keep families together. They know Cheri and they know her character,” said Galen Tyler, one of her campaign managers and Chair of the Green Party of Philadelphia.
“We will continue this fight in the court--and at the ballot box. For me, running is not choice. It is an imperative. There is too much at stake for the poor and hungry persons of this district, for children and immigrants, to simply hand this seat over to corrupt politics-as-usual once again,” Honkala concluded.
* As of this date, despite regaining minor party status, BCEL has still not updated paper voter registration forms nor the online voter registration form, to reflect the specific option of “Green” for party registration. As a result, people wishing to register as a Green still have to select “other” and then specify Green.