My whole political outlook has changed since 2014, when I was called by a distraught parent about a fracked-gas well on fire near Summit Elementary in the Butler School District. As it turns out, the well wasn't on fire, it was flaring. That was still alarming. Flaring wells are emitters of all sorts of toxins, and this one was dangerously close to the school.
I went around the neighborhood knocking on doors to find out what the neighbors thought, what they were saying. A woman standing by her mailbox told me, "I've lived here for 42 years. We all get along, but we don't talk about the tough things." After a few more minutes, I turned to walk away, and she called after me, "What can we do? They're so big, and we're so small.
Michael Bagdes-Canning for PA Lieutenant Governor
For Immediate Release
Monday, April 18, 2022
Michael Bagdes-Canning, 724-431-8560, [email protected]
That neighborhood had lost all semblance of community. Neighbors knew each other. They waved to each other. They said hello, but they didn't talk about the tough things. So, when poisons were released from a gas well near the school -- putting children, teachers and staff in harm's way -- the neighbors didn't talk about it. We had lost our community.
This brings me to the current race for PA Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and U.S. Senator from PA. When I agreed to become a Green Party candidate, I was told that the plan was to build the Green Party base so that, moving into next year, we have more activists who can be a force in local races in places we haven't been before.
I am a politician, and I am campaigning to be Lt. Governor of PA. I am a retired teacher. I used to run a class of 20 students or less. They were delinquent boys. So that is like working with Democrats and Republicans, only my delinquents were more likable. I have held elected office since 1989. I am now the Mayor of a Cherry Valley Borough, but let's put that in context. There are 54 residents of Cherry Valley, and 39 registered voters.
My running mate for PA Governor, Christina "PK" DiGiulio, is a chemist who has never held elected office and who has certainly never run an organization approaching the size of the Commonwealth of PA. PK and I do not have experts sitting in the wings to coach us. What we have are proven ideas and people power.
Call me crazy, but I didn't sign up to be a real candidate. I signed up to be an unsettling force. The Green Party is not going to win in a system designed to make SURE we don't win. I have to embrace that. The Green Party has serious points to make, serious critiques of the political and economic system. I want to have fun doing that. I want to run a guerilla campaign -- playing to our strengths, avoiding fights we can't win. Using the resources we have and not getting bogged down trying to make do.
What you have in "PK" and me are disruptors. In our own ways, we are pretty good at shaking up the status quo. I'm not making a joke of the Green Party or of elections. I'm talking about exposing the rank hypocrisy of the two corporate parties and about how they betray working people. I'm also talking about acknowledging the obvious – this is not a campaign that is going to get the most votes. So let's have some fun. That's what I want to do.
Grassroots Democracy, one of the Green Party's 10 Key Values, means participation. None of us should be lifting more than their fair share. Our candidates are not "sages on the stages." They are the face of us! We should all be accountable, and we should all get our hands dirty. Personal and Global Responsibility is another Green Party Key Value. We, personally and as a party, need to reflect our commitment to making this Commonwealth a better place. If the Green Party is going to be a force, we have to build our community. We all need to play our role, to take ownership.
What can you do now to help us grow the Green Party infrastructure? Obviously, "PK" and I need your help in gathering voters' signatures on our nomination petitions. Also, if we are going to get the word out, we need places to go, people to talk with. We need social media. We need creative people to come up with disruptive things we can do. We need people to develop messaging. We need money. We need all sorts of things about which you can teach me.
The end of the story I started with is a testament to organizing. About three months after I had met with the distraught parent, I went to a Cherry Valley Township Supervisors meeting. They were considering a permit for a compressor station. The mother who had called me about the well fire had spent weeks organizing opposition. The meeting was packed with residents who opposed the compressor station. Many got up to speak. Toward the end, an elderly woman got up and "talked about the tough things." When she finished, she turned, looked at me, and nodded. The Supervisors rejected the permit application.
If you would like to join Michael Bagdes-Canning's campaign for PA Lt. Governor, please contact 724-431-8560, [email protected]
For more information:
"Our Ten Key Values," Green Party of the U.S.,
"'End the War on Drugs' says Green Party Candidate for PA Lt. Governor," Michael Bagdes-Canning news release, April 2, 2022,
"BREAKING: Green Party Candidate Announces Bid For PA Lieutenant Governor," Michael Bagdes-Canning news release, March 9, 2022,