Democracywise: Green Party Election Night Party

“We did the best we could with what we have. Whatever happens, I know that we laid it on the line,” Hawkins said.

Common Council District 4: Hawkins Still a Green Party “Hero” in 20th Defeat

His political history repeated itself for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who was trailing far behind incumbent Democrat Khalid Bey in the race for Common Council District 4 on Tuesday night.

“We did the best we could with what we have. Whatever happens,  I know that we laid it on the line,” Hawkins said.

As of 11:29 p.m., with 100 percent of the vote counted, the unofficial results showed Hawkins with 995 votes, or 40 percent. Bey’s unofficial total was 1,471 votes, or 60 percent.

This was Hawkins’ 20th race for public office. He’s been on the ballot for 19 elections out of the 20. He has run for governor, Syracuse common councilor-at-large and mayor, just to name a few.

This was a rematch of the 2011 election, when Hawkins lost the Common Council District 4 race by fewer than 100 votes.  For this race, he raised over $10,000.

District 4 includes the Southwest portion of Syracuse, University Hill, Brighton and downtown. There are 13,676 registered voters in District 4. Voter enrollment is 8,778—or 64 percent – for Democrats; 1,141 – or 8 percent – for Republicans; 117 – or less than 1 percent—for the Green Party; and 2,958 – or  21 percent – unaffiliated with a political party.

The Green Party election night party was at the Westcott Community Center. The room was decorated with green banners and over 50 signs for Hawkins, mayoral candidate Kevin Bott and Barbara Humphrey, who was running for the Syracuse school board. The food was bought from Thomas’ Kitchen on the Southside.

“Tonight we brought food from the Southside and are eating it on the east side,” Hawkins said. “It’s how we brought the district together.”

Hawkins, who works nights at UPS unloading trucks, left his campaign party as the first wave of results trickled in. He also worked Monday night before the election. Although he was running low on sleep, he said, his energy level was high.

Hawkins scarfed down a plate filled with rice, beans and collard greens as he mingled with other Green Party members. He spoke to the group twice. The first was to invite everyone to grab a plate of food, which consisted of large containers gumbo, cornbread and other soul food that filled the room with comforting smells.

The second time Hawkins made a speech was to announce he was leaving for work at about 10 p.m. Hawkins poked fun of himself by saying that he finally realizes that he is known as the perennial candidate.

To others, he was a source of pride. “Howie is an inspiration to many of us,” Ursula Rozum, Hawkins’ campaign manager, said. “He isn’t just some guy who wants to be elected. He is helping our, the Green Party’s, movement be heard.”

At the polls on Tuesday, some voters expressed support for Hawkins but doubted he would have the backing Bey had.

At Danforth Magnet Elementary school polling place, Audrey Haskell predicted that Hawkins would lose to Bey. “I like Hawkins and wouldn’t doubt he’d do some good things for our community, but I think Khalid Bey has formed a large group of supports, especially in this area,” Haskell said.

Another voter, Nikia Trice, voted for Bey because she saw he was making improvements on the Southside. “I like that he’s started to fix my community from the inside out,” Trice, a secretary at a law firm, said. “He’s done a good job for the first two years so I think his time will be extended.”

Even as the vote count was going against Hawkins, it was clear those gathered at the Westcott Community Center’s still strongly supported him. As Hawkins left for work the room filled with chants of “Howie, Howie,” and one supporter yelled “Howie’s a Hero.”

(Becca Milliron is a senior majoring in newspaper and online journalism.)

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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
Hawkins for Mayor