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Green Party co-founder, Folsom resident Peter Camejo dies

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Folsom’s Peter Camejo, for decades a high-profile political candidate who ran for president, vice president and the California governorship, died Saturday at age 68. Camejo and Ralph Nader each is synonymous with the country’s Green Party, which Camejo helped found in 2001. He debated Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis in the 2003 recall election for governor. Camejo died early Saturday at his home on Halidon Way in Folsom. Camejo’s wife, Morella, was with her husband when he died of lymphoma, just days after finishing an autobiography. He is the author of several previous books, including “California Under Corporate Rule” and “The SRI Advantage: Why Socially Responsible Investing Has Outperformed Financially.” He marched in Selma, Ala., with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King during the nation’s civil-rights movement. Camejo was an uncompromising progressive in politics and in socio-economics. His presidential run in 1976 was made for the Socialist Workers Party. In July 2004, he criticized the left-moderate publication The Nation. “The Nation has joined the chorus of those blaming Nader for Bush’s selection (in 2000),” Camejo wrote in a letter to the editor. “Seven million Democrats voted for Bush in 2000, more than 200,000 in Florida alone. We are still looking for one Green who voted for Bush.” Nader issued a lengthy statement eulogizing his friend. “When his autobiography, with the working title ‘Northstar’ is published, we will all be able to get a vivid sense of the great measure of Peter Camejo as a sentinel force for civil rights and civil liberties, and expander of democracy,” Nader wrote in a published statement. “His lifework will inspire the political and economic future for a long time.” Camejo was born in Queens, New York, of Venezuelan parents. He spent much of his youth in Caracas. After earning a perfect score on the math section of the SAT college entrance exam, Camejo enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He dropped out shortly before the Selma civil rights march, and became an activist, later resuming schooling at University of California, Berkeley. For “using an unauthorized microphone” during a Vietnam War protest, the university suspended him. Then-governor Ronald Reagan deemed Camejo one of California’s 10 most dangerous citizens because of his presence at anti-war protests, according to Wikipedia. Camejo ran for governor of California in 2002, 2003 and 2006 with the Green Party, supporting abortion rights, the legalization of marijuana, universal health care and a moratorium on the death penalty. In 2002, he garnered 5.3 percent of the vote, Nader said. As California moved toward its current budget crisis, Camejo presented a five-point plan to increase the state’s revenues by $32.6 billion dollars a year while lowering taxes for 60 percent of residents. The plan is as follows: • the richest 5 percent of residents pay the same tax rate as the poorest 20 percent • the state adopts a single-payer universal health care system • tax loopholes are closed and tax fraud suppressed • corporate taxes return to what they were 20 years ago, and • minimum wage rises to what it was in 1968 Calculated in real 2007 dollars, the minimum hourly wage was at its the highest in 1968, at $9.47, according to the Oregon State University Department of Education. Nader noted that Camejo continually pressed for proportional electoral representation and instant run-off voting, by allowing voters to rank their top choices. Nader quoted Camejo on his goal of overturning the “200-year-old dysfunctional money-dominated winner take-all system that disrespects the will of the people.” Among Camejo’s progressive achievements in the arena of socio-economics was the creation of the Eco-Logical Trust for Merrill Lynch, the first fund of a major firm to hold investments to environmental standards. Camejo is survived by his wife, Morella; a daughter, Alexandra; a son, Victor; three brothers; and three grandchildren. As of press time, services had yet to be planned. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com