California woman's election a landmark for Green Party

Candidate wins 50.5% of vote in legislative race


PIEDMONT, Calif. -- When fellow Green Party members persuaded Audie Bock to run for the state Assembly last December, they told her she had a choice. She could run a symbolic campaign by putting her name on the ballot -- or she could campaign seriously.

"I knew what I was up against when we started off with zero money and a few volunteers," said Bock, 53, who lives in Piedmont, a city bounded on all sides by Oakland. "But I decided I wanted to get in there, to offer a true alternative to machine politics, to really do something and say something."

Bock chose to run a real race, and she won -- making her the first member of the Green Party to serve in a state legislature anywhere in the nation, and the first third-party candidate to serve in the California Assembly since 1914.

The Green Party, which was born in Germany in 1979 and made its way to the United States in 1984, originally focused on environmental issues, but in recent years has embraced other causes, including health care, social justice and education.

Bock -- a film distributor and junior college ethnic-studies instructor -- won 50.5 percent of the vote in last month's runoff election to squeak by Elihu Harris, the former two-term Oakland mayor. Harris had previously held the Assembly seat from 1978 to 1990. Bock won by 327 votes of a total of 29,000 cast.

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