New York Greens go for top seats in state government

New York Greens go for top seats in state government

A full slate of state candidates raises key issues
by Deyva Arthur, Green Party of New York State

New York Greens are excited about this electionís state level slate of candidates for their diversity and successes in previous campaigns. The Green Party of New York State is confident in getting at least the needed 50,000 votes for governor to regain ballot status. Going on a campaign of “Tax Wall Street to Invest in Main Street,” Howie Hawkins, the gubernatorial candidate, is trying to address the gaping hole in politics New Yorkers are looking to fill with a candidate representing people instead of corporations.

Along with Hawkins, Gloria Mattera, long-time single payer healthcare advocate, is running for Lieutenant Governor. Colia Clark, veteran of the civil rights movement, is vying for U.S. senator against Chuck Schumer, and Cecile Lawrence, peace and justice advocate, is also running for U.S. senator against Kirsten Gillibrand. Running a second time for state comptroller is Julia Willibrand, active in the international peace movement.

With the majority of candidates being long-time Greens, the party platform will be at the forefront in the campaign. Hawkins was a founding member of the Green Party in the United States. Mattera and Willibrand have also been active in the party for more than ten years. They have all run well-organized campaigns previously, with Hawkins having run several campaigns including his most recent campaign last year for Common Councilor in Syracuse where he garnered 41 percent of the vote. In 2006 Hawkins ran against Hilary Clinton for senator and received 55,000 votes – showing not all progressives where behind Clinton. Willibrand that year also received nearly 118,000 votes in her bid for state comptroller.

Hawkins said, “The progressives and independents who voted the Republicans out and the Democrats in are now taken for granted by the Democrats in power, because these voters have no where else to take their votes. We are running to give these voters a place to go.”

Hawkins along with the rest of the Green slate, is calling for: eliminating corporate control of politics; a progressive tax to address the state deficit while bringing back funding for schools, jobs, health care, homes and the environment; public banking for a sustainable green economy; and ending the wars. “The ongoing Wall Street bailout is the greatest transfer of wealth in world history. If our schools were banks, they would have been bailed out. Ö Whether it is job creation, health care, housing, or the environment, the government sides with the corporate vested interests against the broad public interest,” Hawkins said.

Also a key issue among the slate of candidates is banning hydrofracking of natural gas, an increasingly used process to extract natural gas, which releases toxic chemicals into groundwater, ecosystems and even impacts residential communities. It is becoming an increasing threat in the United States, and with legislation in New York still undecided but leaning towards leniency on the use of Hydrofracking, NY Greens see this as a critical time to stop this danger.

After serving as a Marine, Hawkins has been an activist for peace, labor, the environment and independent politics since the 1960ís. Before helping to start GPUS, he was a co-founder of the anti-nuclear Clamshell Alliance in 1976. He has organized efforts against the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq, as well as, to end apartheid in South Africa. Currently a resident of Syracuse, he has developed cooperatives and environmentally sustainable communities. Through his work unloading trucks for the United Parcel Service, he is an active participant of the Teamsters.

ìThe ongoing Wall Street bailout is the greatest transfer of wealth in world history. If our schools were banks, they would have been bailed out.î ~ Howie Hawkins

Diversity also stands out in this slate of candidates with four of the five candidates being women and two women of color. With the Green Partyís commitment to running a broad spectrum of candidates, the New York political arena will be gaining strong voices for underrepresented populations.

As part of her campaign announcement, Colia Clark said addressing immigration reform, as well as the infringements of workers rights in other countries through NAFTA and similar treaties, would be a priority. She added her opposition to Schumerís proposal to including fingerprints on Social Security cards. “The right to privacy, the right to move about the nation freely without police intrusion is quickly becoming an endangered right. Any remnant of slave pass laws/Apartheid pass laws must be challenged and defeated in the interest of freedom for New York State and the nation.”

Clark has been an activist since the civil rights movement when she worked alongside Medgar Evers in the NAACP and registered voters through the Mississippi Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Never slowing down, she has been an activist on labor and womenís rights as well as for youth and the homeless. Recently she worked on Green presidential candidate Cynthia McKinneyís campaign and is chair of Grandmothers for the Release of Mumia Abu Jamal. Clark has been a professor at the University of Albany and director at the Social Justice Center in New York.

Running for the other U.S. senate seat, Cecile Lawence is prioritizing the immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A health advocate for more than 15 years, she has been active in banning hydrofracking and other issues linking health and the environment.

“We need to cancel all subsidies to [concentrated animal feeding operations] and rapidly phase out their existence nationwide. Transfer those subsidies to the development of small-scale organic, permaculture, or biodynamic methods of farming at the state level. We should transfer all current federal subsidies to coal, gas, oil and nuclear to the development and installation of solar, small-scale wind farmsÖground source heat pumps and yet-to-be-invented methods,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence has been an active member of the Tioga County Peace and Justice, Southern Tier Independence Center, and the YWCA. Working in college and non-profit administration, she has been outspoken in health care reform. She holds a PhD from Binghamton University and is a graduate of the State University of New York in Buffalo Law School.

Lt. governor candidate, Gloria Mattera, has been an active Green since 2001, with this being her fourth run for office. In 2003 she came in second place for a seat in District 39. Successful in raising enough funds for each campaign to qualify for government matching funds, she attributes this success to focusing on the true issues concerning residents, such as: spending funds on health care; housing and jobs instead of the wars; and advocating for community driven development, instead of the loss of communities to large-scale development seized by imminent domain laws. For 20 years she has worked as an advocate for immigrant families in the NYC hospital system.

Mattera said, “I want New York to be a leader in the fight against global warming. The state is the worldís 16th largest economy. Ö We propose reaching emission reduction targets by way of a massive program of energy conservation in building and the scaling of mass transit to move decisively towards reaching a goal of 100 percent renewable energy in New York State and nationally by 2050.”

Once a co-president of the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas, Julia Willibrand, has been outspoken for the Green platform for many years. In 1998 she ran for state senate, in 2001 she ran for mayor of New York, and in 2006 she ran a well publicized campaign for state comptroller. As a former teacher, she has been a long time advocate in education. She has also been a champion of womenís rights and the environment. In this yearís campaign for state comptroller, Willibrandís top priorities are establishing a socially responsible investment policy for the stateís pension fund and legislating to change from the comptrollerís position as sole trustee of the state Common Retirement Fund to having a representative public board.

Although winning these elections is always the goal, another goal is to present the important issues other candidates are not even discussing. In addition to gaining ballot status, these Green campaigns will pave the way for future elections. “We are building this campaign county by county to leave in place a grassroots party organization that can carry on the movement for our policy platform after the November 2 election,” Hawkins said. “Our votes cannot be taken for granted. We will make the politicians and the policy debate in the media and in our communities deal with our solutions.”

For more information, volunteer, or make a donation go to: howiehawkins.org or web.gpnys.org

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