As a crowd waited for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein to join a September 2 political rally at Capital University, local Green Party members took the podium to explain the key role of third party politics, and how Stein’s presidential bid coalesces with state and local efforts to transform the political landscape.

“Politics creates the kinds of communities that we will live in,” said Anita Rios of Toledo, who ran for Ohio Governor in 2014. “Somebody is going to make those decisions, and if it’s not somebody who understands our needs, they’re going to make decisions based on the people who give them money — decisions that simply do not work for us.”

Healing our communities requires a groundswell of Americans participating in politics at the local level, Rios said, “not just as voters, but also as candidates.” She described her Ohio gubernatorial run as a grueling effort that required great sacrifices from herself, her family, and a legion of Green Party activists.

“Did I think I was going to going to be sitting in the governor’s mansion instead of John Kasich? Not really,” Rios said. “But somebody had to do that in order for us to have ballot access. The whole point of that effort was so that all of our candidates would be able to get on the ballot a little more easily.”

Rios won 3 percent of the gubernatorial vote in 2014, enabling the Green Party to retain minor party status in Ohio.  “That allowed us to put Jill Stein’s name on the ballot for President this year,” she said. “The end result for me was a step toward genuine democracy. Jill Stein running for President is also a step.”

Bob Fitrakis was Rios’ running mate in 2014. This November he is the Green Party candidate for Franklin County Prosecutor. “I’m not going to arrest anyone for drug possession,” he said. “It’s a medical problem. I do plan to arrest anyone from the national government violating the U.S. Constitution and spying on citizens with bogus warrants dropped down from the FISA Court.” Fitrakis also pledged to prosecute fracking companies for poisoning public water supplies.

“At this point in history there is the potential — despite the efforts of the mainstream for-profit media to avoid it — to actually create an independent progressive party,” he said.

“This semester we plan to work with our food provider Aramark to get more locally-sourced ingredients,” said Aaron Suarez, president of the student organization Capital University Campus Greens. “We want to get composting in our main dining hall and a community garden. We want to work with Bexley and Columbus to teach young people important sustainability skills, so they won’t be dependent on corporate supermarkets for overpriced healthy foods and underpriced processed foods.”

The Campus Greens also want recycling to be accessible and visible everywhere at Capital University “instead of just in the basements of the residence halls,” Suarez said.

By the time Jill Stein arrived (two hours late, which was blown out of proportion by corporate media), the audience had grown to 150. “I want to hear from somebody who’s not Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton,” said Capital University student Lucy Caputo. “Somebody who’s not what the media is throwing at us. I’m not 100 percent positive who I’m voting for. But I’m especially interested in Jill Stein.”

Jill Stein took the podium and called for a Green New Deal that creates 20 million jobs to support a new green economy. “We need an economy that is based on people, not on profit,” she said. “We need 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. That is what the science tells us.”

The U.S. military uses 54% of the U.S. discretionary budget, Stein said. The second largest line item is only 7% of the budget. “We basically have a military budget with small footnotes around it,” she said. “This is bankrupting us as a society. And it’s not making us more secure. It’s making us less secure, because these wars for oil, or you could call them ‘wars on terror,’ are creating failed states, mass refugee migrations, and worse terrorist threats.

“Imagine cutting our military budget in half, and putting those dollars into true security here at home: creating jobs, schools, and health care instead of bombing hospitals and schools around the world,” Stein said.

People at the age millenials are now “have always led the charge for social transformation,” Stein said. “No society has ever survived by devouring its younger generation. But that’s what is happening now. “Education is a survival essential. Public education should be free, and private education should be affordable and debt-free.”

Columbus State Community College student Isabelle Skapik is very concerned about student debt. She also likes Stein’s support of universal health care as a human right.

“Of course I don’t want to vote for Trump,” Skapik said. “And I don’t want to vote for Hillary. She was my Plan B when Bernie dropped out, but I don’t feel that I can vote for her because she cheated her way through the election. When athletes cheat in the Olympics, they are disqualified.”