Former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson announces presidential bid

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Former Salt Lake City, Utah mayor and human rights activist Rocky Anderson announced yesterday at a press conference in Washington, D.C. that he is officially a candidate for the office of President of the United States. He also formally announced the creation of a new third party: the Justice Party, under which he will make his run.

Rocky Anderson in January 2009.
Image: Don LaVange.

Anderson, who is known as an outspoken advocate of campaign finance reform, immigration reform, and LGBT rights, served as Mayor of Salt Lake City for two terms from 2000 to 2008 as a member of the Democratic Party. During his tenure, he enacted proposals to reduce the city's carbon emissions, reformed its criminal justice system, and positioned it as a leading sanctuary for refugees. Since leaving the office, Anderson has been critical of the Democratic Party and president Barack Obama. Earlier this year, he left the party, faulting it for failing to push impeachment against President George W. Bush, and for not reversing policies on torture, taxes, and defense spending.

Talk of an Anderson presidential run goes back at least five years. According to The Nation, in 2006, after delivering a speech on the steps of city hall, supporters asked Anderson to run for president. He responded "I'd be torn to pieces" as a candidate, but "if I thought I could win, I would [run]. This country certainly needs leadership." Last October, Anderson announced that he wished to create a new political party, and last month, confirmed that he would run for president.

At yesterday's press conference, which was attended by about 30 people, Anderson remarked, "We the people are powerful enough to end the perverse government-to-the-highest-bidder system sustained by the two dominant parties...We are here today for the sake of justice — social justice, environmental justice and economic justice." The low turnout at the event was attributed to the lack of notice and sufficient planning.

Speaking of the low turnout, Anderson argued that "This is what grass roots looks like at the very beginning." He says he will limit campaign contributions to $100. He is working to have the Justice Party appear on state ballots in time for the election next November, and hopes to draw support from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the Justice Party's three primary goals include: the removal of corporate money from politics through a Constitutional amendment, an abolition of the country's two party political system, and the election of Anderson as president. A nominating convention is planned for February 2012.