September 25, 2012 in 2012 Fall
Jill Stein sees herself as a mother and a physician. She never thought of herself as a politician.
“I was not political,” she said. “It was too corrupt to be politically involved.”
But there was a point when she could no longer ignore what was happening. And now Stein is running for president of the United States.
“I am an activist because, as a mother and M.D., I am trying to fix the causes that make our children sick, find solutions that save our lives, jobs—the world,” she said.
Stein said her political tipping point was when Massachusetts’ voters passed a campaign finance reform bill, but Democrats in state legislature repealed it. “I realized I could not change it from the outside,” she said. Shortly after that, in 2002, Stein was asked to run for Massachusetts governor with the Green-Rainbow Party against Mitt Romney, and she accepted.
Stein represented the Green-Rainbow Party in two additional races—one for state representative in 2004 and one for secretary of state in 2006. In 2006, she won the votes of more than 350,000 Massachusetts citizens—the greatest vote total ever for a Green-Rainbow candidate. She has also been elected two times to town meeting in Lexington, Mass., and founded and co-chaired a local recycling committee appointed by the Lexington Board of Selectmen.
Another motivating moment occurred when President Barack Obama put Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block a year ago. Shortly after that, Stein was asked to run for president as a Green, and again she accepted. “I felt I had a responsibility to challenge the current president. … I had always worked at the grassroots level but the party was coming out with a unified campaign, and I became involved at the national level,” she said.
Stein began advocating for the environment as a human health issue in 1998 when she saw government was not protecting children from toxic threats. She offered her services to parents, teachers, community groups and Native Americans seeking to protect their communities. She co-authored two widely praised reports, In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development, published in 2000, and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging, published in 2009. The first of these is used worldwide and promotes green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats. In 2003, Stein co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization addressing issues important to the health and well being of Massachusetts communities, including health care, local green economies, and grassroots democracy.
She has testified before numerous legislative panels as well as local and state governmental bodies on environmental health. She also has appeared as an environmental health expert on the Today show, 20/20, Fox News and other programs. She was a member of the national and Massachusetts boards of directors of the Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her efforts to protect public health have won her several awards, including: Clean Water Action’s “Not in Anyone’s Backyard” Award, the Children’s Health Hero Award, and the Toxic Action Center’s Citizen Award.
In 2008, Stein helped formulate a “Secure Green Future” ballot initiative urging legislators to accelerate efforts to move the Massachusetts economy to renewable energy and make development of green jobs a priority. The measure won more than 81 percent of the vote in the 11 districts in which it was on the ballot.
Stein was born in Chicago and raised in suburban Highland Park, Ill. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973, and from Harvard Medical School in 1979. Stein has been in a folk rock band, Somebody’s Sister, for many years and has released four albums. Stein enjoys long walks with her great Dane, Bandita and lives in Lexington, Mass. with her husband, Richard Rohrer, also a physician. She has two sons, Ben and Noah.
As Stein said in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, “To silence the only hope of an opposition voice in this election, when so much is at stake, I think would be just a terrible loss for the American people.”
More information at www.jillstein.org
To silence the only hope of an opposition voice in this election, when so much is at stake, I think would be just a terrible loss for the American people.