Hawkins Says Astorino Afraid To Debate a Progressive
Renews Call for a Gubernatorial Debate Focused on Education
(Syracuse, NY) While Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said the he is glad that Republican Rob Astorino has picked up on Hawkins’ prior calls for a series of gubernatorial debates, Hawkins wants the debates opened to at least all ballot qualified parties.
Hawkins called for one of the debates to be focused solely on education. This would help ensure that voters are not confused by the Stop Common Core ballot line that Astorino and state Republicans plan to put on the ballot by petition. Hawkins has been endorsed by a number of teacher and parents organizations.
Hawkins pointed out that recent polls show that the 35% difference between Cuomo (59%) and Astorino (24%) is twice as large as the gap between Astorino and Hawkins (6%).
“Voters have gotten non-stop media coverage of Astorino over the last few months and most don’t like what they hear. It is time to let them hear about the progressive alternative,” said Hawkins. Previous polls that show 24% of the voters would support a progressive third party worker candidate such as Hawkins, a Teamster who unload trucks for a living.
Hawkins called the Stop Common Core ballot line “a bait-and-switch diversion designed to channel legitimate concern over Common Core into votes for the Republican agenda of underfunding and privatizing public education.”
Astorino's running mate for Lieutenant Governor, Chris Moss, proved Hawkins' point at a Syracuse news conference yesterday to promote the Stop Common Core ballot line when he said he supported private school vouchers.
Astorino said yesterday he wants the debates to include only himself and Governor Cuomo.
“Astorino is afraid to debate me because he knows a large percentage of New Yorkers are progressive,” Hawkins said. “He doesn't want to have to defend his widely unpopular conservative ideas against a progressive like me. Astorino just wants to debate Cuomo about which one of them would be better at implementing the conservative agenda of tax cuts for the 1% to be paid for by spending cuts for the 99%.”
Hawkins said that the voters entitled to hear how the different candidates would solve problems such as job creation, taxes, minimum wage, health care, climate change, housing and criminal justice. The Green Party believes that the positions of the two major parties are generally similar, debating over details and patronage rather than fundamental disagreements over major policies.
Hawkins said a debate focused on education is needed because both Astorino and Cuomo support programs to privatize public education, including more privately-managed charter schools and education tax credits for donations to charter and parochial schools.
Hawkins said the education debate is especially needed now that Republicans are putting up a Stop Common Core ballot line. “This is bumpersticker sloganeering at its worst. Voters shouldn't fall for this ploy to siphon off votes to the Republican column,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins supports fully funding public schools by eliminating the property tax cap and the Gap Elimination Adjustment. He supports a simpler need-based state school aid formula and an end to competitive grants for funding. He wants to reduce race and class segregation in New York schools, which are the most segregated in the nation. He also wants to replace Common Core-linked high-stakes testing of students, teachers, and schools with a qualitative assessments of students and teachers, designed by educators for educational objectives instead of the convenience and profit of testing vendors.