Norwich - A group of city voters is working to establish a Green Party here, hoping to field candidates for state legislative races and the 2015 City Council and school board races.
The small group has been meeting monthly at the United Congregational Church and will hold a public forum Thursday at the Yantic River Inn to discuss property values and home sales prices in Norwich and surrounding towns. A recent report showed that while home prices in other local towns have increased, sales prices in Norwich have decreased.
The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Yantic River Inn, 270 W. Town St.
Ernie Cohen, who plans to change his voter registration from Republican to Green Party, is serving as the fledgling party's secretary. Cohen said he registered as a Republican for the 2004 presidential primary.
According to city voter records, there are 34 registered Green Party voters, with 29 of them active - having voted in the last four elections, said Republican Registrar Dianne Slopak. The city has 44 registered Libertarian voters. The Libertarians fielded candidates for Norwich mayor and City Council in the 2013 election.
Linda Lancz of Norwich is a registered Green Party voter and is co-chairwoman of the state Green Party. Lancz is coordinator of the new Norwich party, saying the group hasn't reached the point of electing a chairman yet.
Lancz hopes the Green Party first can become a viable alternative and then a major third party locally and nationally. She said many people already agree with the Green Party's stands on some major issues. The party favors single-payer national health insurance and has raised the issue of bringing home all troops engaged in foreign wars. The party also believes the National Security Agency's bulk data collection on Americans is unconstitutional.
The Green Party also does not accept corporate donations, separating the party from both the Democratic and Republican parties, Lancz said.
Cohen said about a dozen people have been attending meetings, but not all are from Norwich. Scott Deshefy of Bozrah, the past Green Party candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, has been participating as well, Cohen said.
"This meeting Thursday is an attempt to engage people on what to do about Norwich," Lancz said of the upcoming forum. "It's clear that what's happening is that downtown is being held hostage by some speculators who have no intention of being landlords and are just holding onto their properties for a turnaround, or for (a planned upgrade of) future railroad lines."