Promising Leader of the Green Party
She’s strong enough to challenge presidents, but the Green Party’s Ursula Rozum admits she doesn’t like taking on the boss role.
Ironically, she’s running Howie Hawkins’ campaign for New York State governor.
In her past, Rozum has held a sign to “Free Bradley Manning,” interrupting a speech by President Barack Obama, and she released a statement criticizing Bill Clinton. And yet she feels she can’t give orders.
“I’m not really good at telling people what to do. I know what I want them to do or what they should do,” she pondered. “But we try to bring people into our campaign team, and we have some confidence on their skills.”
Rozum was born and raised in Syracuse. She described her family, including Polish father and designer Adam Rozum, as “politically opinionated, but not politically active.”
“I was thought to be a smart child, a kid that people talked about and said, ‘oh yeah, she’s going to succeed.’ There are jokes in my family like, ‘She would be the first woman president.’ But you know, no one was serious. It’s family love,” Rozum smiled.
After she graduated from McGill University in Canada, she moved back to Syracuse. Rozum helped groups at school with composting and recycling, but stayed away from politics.
“When you are in college, you probably have a lot of interests and certain sorts of values, but you don’t necessarily know how to apply that to your future, career and professional life,” she said. “I want do some good. I want to help people. I want to end the poverty. I figured that my place is in political world. I want to find the political roots of social injustice.”
Rozum said her political work path beginning with Get Out to Vote campaign of Citizen Action of Syracuse.
“We registered 5,000 voters in 2008, and it’s very historical vote in the city of Syracuse.”
Being a campaign organizer at Citizen Action of Syracuse to Rozum was by chance. She recalled that the supervisor thought she was reliable and kept her working in the organization after the campaign.
“Actually, a friend of mine was hired to work for this project, and then one day someone just didn’t show up. My friend recommended me,” she said.
Besides the position she also held in the Syracuse Peace Council, Rozum worked as upstate campaign coordinator of Howie Hawkins for Governor in 2010. Her passion helped drive the Green Party, and coworkers hoped Rozum would stay involved.
This hope is an important reminder for Rozum.
“If you want to make a connection with someone, tell them what you think, show your appreciation to people. Even in a simple way that can have a big impact, making things forward.”
Then in 2012, she became the Green Party candidate for New York’s 24th Congressional District. Fighting for herself, Rozum advocated Green New Deal, including Money Out of Politics, Tax the Rich, Medicare for All. She won about eight percent of votes in the election and said “no” to the corporate-funded two-party political system.
Since 2013, Rozum has grown as a campaign manager. She ran Hawkins’ campaign for City Council.
“We were disappointed because we thought that we could win, but we didn’t” Rozum said.
Now, she is fully equipped for the new round of statewide campaigning in 2014.
Besides the political work, Rozum actively takes part in community activities, such as Syracuse Peace Council, Boys and Girls Clubs and Meals on Wheels of Greater Syracuse. In order to spare no efforts to Hawkins for Governor Campaign, she has to quit other jobs, including ending her own campaign for her congressional district seat.
“I miss some of my other community involvements, but the race for governor is an important one which can secure the Green Party a ballot position.”
Howie Hawkins For Governor will register by Oct. 10 and be on the ballot on November 4th. Rozum said time is short in a campaign. Every day is like the last day.
“If we don’t do something, you’ll miss opportunities. If you don’t go after the media, you lose the chance to do a TV interview. That means thousands fewer times your candidate can be exposed. Or if you miss a fundraising day, that probably is many dollars you’re just not going to raise because every day is like a day closer to the election. It’s very high pressure. You have to keep it going,” Rozum said.
After the campaign, Rozum will continue taking on political issues through the Green Party of New York State Committee.
“I really would like this campaign to be something that makes our organization stronger, brings in new people,” Rozum said. “And the new people have the feelings that they want to build an alternative and independent Green Party.”