Hawkins announces for 4th District Councilor race

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/05/live_qa_with_the_green_partys.html

Howie Hawkins announced today he will run on the Green Party line for the 4th District Common Council seat held by Democrat Khalid Bey.

For weeks, Hawkins has been trying to decide whether to run for Syracuse mayor or Common Council. Hawkins said running for mayor would give him a platform to talk about the party's big-picture policy issues.

But he said he believes the 4th District is a race he can win.

Green Party's Howie Hawkins announces race for 4th District Syracuse city council in live chat

Michelle Breidenbach | mbreidenbach@syracuse.comBy Michelle Breidenbach | mbreidenbach@syracuse.com 
on May 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM, updated May 20, 2013 at 12:54 PM
2010-10-11-mjg-Howie2.JPGThe Green Party's Howie Hawkins on the campaign trail in 2010
By Mike Greenlar | mgreenlar@syracuse.com 

Syracuse, NY - Howie Hawkins announced today he will run on the Green Party line for the 4th District Common Council seat held by Democrat Khalid Bey.

For weeks, Hawkins has been trying to decide whether to run for Syracuse mayor or Common Council. Hawkins said running for mayor would give him a platform to talk about the party's big-picture policy issues.

But he said he believes the 4th District is a race he can win.

Hawkins, a graveyard-shift United Parcel Service worker from Syracuse's South Side, has run at least 17 times for public office. He ran for mayor in 2005. He has also run before for the 4th District Common Council seat.

Hawkins biggest race was for governor in 2010. He did not win the election, of course. But it was a victory for the Green Party. The party won enough votes (59,000) to be recognized as an official political party on New York state ballots.

Monday night, Syracuse Greens will hold a convention to nominate candidates for Syracuse and Onondaga County races. Seats on the ballot this year include mayor, council president, city council, city court judge, school board and county legislature.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave. All enrolled members of the party who vote in Onondaga County can vote at the convention. Unlike the major political parties, there is no weighted voting system. Each person gets one vote. You can enroll in the party on the spot and be allowed to vote.

The Green Party will also adopt a platform for issues.

Bey declined comment.

Miner is running for re-election. Democrat Alfonso Davis is about to start passing petitions to call a September primary. Democratic Common Councilor Pat Hogan is consider a run.

Republicans are still looking for a candidate, but have interest from retired firefighterTom Sexton and long-time party conservative Ian Hunter.

Hawkins answered questions in a live chat at 11:30 a.m. Monday. He said he would continue to answer questions posted in the comments below.

Questions and Answers:

syracuse.com: 
Thank you for joining us for our live Q&A with Green Party advocate Howie Hawkins. He will begin answering your questions at about 11:30 a.m. but you may start submitting them now. To submit a question, enter your name and your question in the boxes at the bottom of this Q&A window and click "Send."

Please note: Your questions will not publish immediately. We will post questions and their responses together to keep the Q&A in a readable order. Depending on the volume of questions, we may not be able to answer them all.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:24 
Howie Hawkins: 
Good morning - I'm looking forward to your questions.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:27 
Howie Hawkins: 
I will be announcing my candidacy tonight at the Green Party County Convention and asking for their endorsement. The convention starts at 6:30 PM and will be held at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave. Syracuse NY. You can RSVP at syracusegreens.org Enrolled Greens have a vote. The public is welcome to observe.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:30 
syracuse.com: 
What office are you going to seek?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:32 
Frank:  
Howie, thanks for participating. You say you'll be announcing your candidacy this evening - seems as if you've already made up your mind. Have you? And if not, what factors go into which race you'll run in?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:32 
Howie Hawkins: 
We've been back and forth for months on whether I should run for mayor or fourth district councilor. The arguments for mayor were: it's a bigger forum to get our issues out and if we win, the mayor has a lot more power than a district councilor. The arguments against were it's a much longer shot to win. And the question kept arising, could a Green mayor get much done if every other elected official local and state was a major party official.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:33 
Howie Hawkins: 
Hi Frank - 
When it looks like there will be at least one, or perhaps two or three other challengers for mayor, it would be harder to get our issues at the center of the debate and the opposition to Mayor Miner would be divided. Running for 4th district councilor is a race I can win. I've gone from 14% in 2003 to 40% in 2009 to 48% in 2011. And the Greens need to do more than raising the issues, we need to elect some people so that we can begin to implement our policies.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:36 
K:  
What is your solution to the I-81 issue?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:36 
Howie Hawkins: 
Hi K - 
I-81 should be a model of Green sustainable development. We would like to see the viaduct taken down, the thru traffic rerouted on I-481, and a new, 15th ward neighborhood built on green, sustainable principles. It could be a car-free neighborhood supported by public transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, with mixed use, mixed income, mixed age development around a central park. It should be up to the people in the city to help develop the design but that is our suggestion.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:38 
Jeb:  
In 2005, you only received about 4% of the mayoral vote. That's worse than third party candidate Jennifer Daniels in 2000 (about 8%) or third party candidate Otis Jennings in 2009 (about 10%). Why should anyone take you seriously as a candidate?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:39 
Howie Hawkins: 
Jeb -
I received 48% for district councilor two years ago. That's up from the 3% I got in 1993 when I started. So our support is growing.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:39 
Saul:  
You have run at least 17 times for office. Please identify any part of your platform that has ever been implemented at any level of government in New York State, or any that have even been given any serious consideration?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:40 
Howie Hawkins: 
Saul - 
One of my key issues this year is fiscal justice. And what I'm calling for is a return to a policy of progressive state income taxation and revenue sharing to fund the cities which host big institutions that don't pay property taxes and which have to meet state mandates. A coalition of cities, including Syracuse, in 1971, convinced state government to institute the revenue sharing which traditionally was 8% and is now less than 2% of state revenues. A restoration of that level of revenue sharing, which is usually funded by restoring the more progressive state taxes we used to have, would end Syracuse's fiscal crisis.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:42 
Will:  
Does the Green Party have any other candidates besides you?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:42 
Howie Hawkins: 
Will - Yes we expect at least one other candidate and perhaps more to be designated at our convention tonight.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:42 
Frank:  
It sounds like you're leaning towards the 4th district seat. What are the major differences you see between yourself and Councilor Bey?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:43 
Howie Hawkins: 
Hi Frank - I want to stop giving tax breaks to private developers. I think public economic investments ought to be targeted to building community wealth that is anchored to our community by democratic ownership structures. So the city should encourage and support worker and consumer cooperatives and community owned utilities for energy, broadband, and public access, TV and community media. Councilor Bey, as chair of the economic development committee, has pushed tax breaks for developers against divided opinion on both the Council and the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency and receives campaign donations from big developers like Bob Congel, Michael Falcone, Bob Doucette and others you'll find on the New York State Board of Elections website.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:46 
Beyonce:  
District councilor is generally considered to focus more on concerns of a particular neighborhood, as opposed to the city-wide approach of an at large councilor or mayor. What can you do to represent the 4th district better than the current office holder, Khalid Bey?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:46 
Howie Hawkins: 
Good question. One of my two top priorities, besides Fiscal Justice and ending the city's fiscal crisis, is getting city funded jobs to city residents, particularly in the 4th district. I want to focus my energy on getting The Equal Employment Opportunity Program enforced, I want to amend the Living Wage Law to include Community Hiring Halls, like Boston and Hartford do, where city agencies and contractors have to go to the community hiring halls as a first source for qualified new hires. That's the quickest way to get good jobs to people in the 4th district.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:48 
syracuse.com: 
From Chad Zawisza via Twitter: "Why do we need a car-free neighborhood in 2013?"
Monday May 20, 2013 11:50 
Howie Hawkins: 
Why do we need a car free neighborhood in 2013?
Car-free neighborhoods around the world have shown that they attract people and businesses better than neighborhoods that use over half their land serving cars with roads and parking lots. Cars are what cities in the last century were designed around. In 2013, we want to start designing our cities around people's convenience. It's more convenient and economical for households and municipalities to move people and goods with a public infrastructure based on easy public transit and bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Car-free is also healthier. We have an asthma epidemic in the Pioneer Homes project next to I-81 now. Putting all the traffic on a stop-and-go boulevard, which seems to be the other option to rebuilding the viaduct, is not going to reduce that harmful pollution.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:52 
CNYTeacher:  
What are your concerns, if any, about education in Syracuse? What is your view of Contreras, her agenda backed by the Broad institute, and the corporatization of our public schools? What role should the Mayor play in this discussion?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:53 
Howie Hawkins: 
I am concerned that our public schools are being assaulted by big, private interests, like hedge funds and educational testing firms with the support of federal mandates No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. This is forcing Syracuse public schools to make educational staffing, curriculum and other educational policies based on mandates and grants from these federal programs and supported by the current state government, that they might not otherwise make. I know that Superintendent Contreras has been involved in programs sponsored by the Broad foundation, which has a corporate and educational reform agenda. I hope she has the independence to put our students, teachers, and schools first.
Monday May 20, 2013 11:56 
steve:  
Howie, Mayor Minor seems to be guiding Syracuse in a race to the bottom. Her answer to the fiscal crisis is the same austerity programs that are being widely applied in the US and Europe, but failing to raise the prosperity of common people. What practical plan could you implement that would make a difference to the working people of Syracuse?
Monday May 20, 2013 11:57 
Howie Hawkins: 
Hi Steve - thanks for your question. My top two priorities are Fiscal Justice and Jobs. Your question points to the city's fiscal crisis, which I believe is manufactured. Mayor Miner and Gov. Cuomo say there is no money. But we know where the money is. The 1% has it. Their share of state income has grown from 10% in 1980 to 35% today. Meanwhile, their state income taxes in the same period, on the top income brackets were cut in half and on the bottom tax bracket, doubled. If we restored the kinds of progressive taxes and revenue sharing we had in the 1970s, we wouldn't have a fiscal crisis and austerity. My other priority is jobs - short term, we have to get city residents their fair share of city funded jobs, which is where the Equal Employment Opportunity Program and the Community Hiring Halls come in. Longer term, we can create living wage jobs and expand our property tax base by building the kind of community wealth I talked about earlier instead of giving tax breaks to private developers who take their wealth and profit out of our city.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:01 
Saul:  
Please name a city in New York state the size of Syracuse that has or has attempted to have community owned utilities for energy, broadband access or cable television.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:01 
Howie Hawkins: 
In New York State, we have over 50 municipal power utilities. None is in cities as big as Syracuse, although there are big cities around the country, like Cleveland, Sacramento and Los Angeles, that have municipal utilities. Over 100 municipalities in the United States have built community broadband. For example, Lafayette Louisiana, which like many others, built their community broadband under the auspices of their municipal power utility. And hundreds of communities have private cable franchises like Time Warner turning over the portion of their franchise fees that are supposed to be devoted to public access channels, including public, educational, and governmental to community controlled nonprofits. Ithaca, NY is an example.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:04 
Other Green Guy:  
Do you not know the names of the other potential Green party candidates?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:05 
Howie Hawkins: 
I know that Barbara Humphrey is seeking the Green party's designation to run for school board. And I expect the Green party will give her their endorsement.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:06 
Phil:  
In your last race for 4th district council, many folks just wouldn't leave the Dem. party line--even in an open seat. How can you address this if you run in the 4th against an incumbent Dem?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:07 
Howie Hawkins: 
I love going door to door and talking to people about the issues in the district. Once you get on that personal level, most people get beyond the party labels and evaluate a candidate based on their policies and how they relate. That's how I'm going to get beyond the automatic Democratic voter. That voter will vote for the person, not the party when they know the candidate.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:08 
R:  
Hi Howie. You serve as co-chair to the Green Party's Shadow Cabinet, so you are well acknowledged in your party. Can you speak on what that role involves, and how you can improve employment in Syracuse as either common councilor or Mayor?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:09 
Howie Hawkins: 
Hi R - Actually, I am not co-chair of the Green Shadow Cabinet, but I am member of the administrative committee, coordinator of the Economy Branch, and a member its Full Employment Council. The role involves getting the economists in our Green Shadow Cabinet to coordinate their advice for Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, the President and the Vice President of the Green Shadow Cabinet and develop and draft policy statements for media distribution. These policies, especially those for establishing full employment, have relevance for Syracuse because there is only so much a municipality can do in the way of public jobs and general economic stimulus. Cities are the bottom tier of our federal structure and have been ignored by the federal government. We need an urban policy. We need the kind of Freedom Budget, a Marshall Plan for the cities that A Phillip Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr. were calling for in the 1960s, starting with the big 1963 march on Washington for JOBS and Freedom.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:13 
owen:  
Crises CAN present an opportunity for innovation. We are in the midst of multiple crises, both economic and environmental. How could we use these crises as a springboard for innovation? The more specific you can be, the better.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:14 
Howie Hawkins: 
We need a GREEN New Deal that puts people back to work building a zero carbon, clean energy economy. The economic and environmental crises point us towards that kind of solution. To be specific and bring it down to the city level, a public power utility would enable us to build clean sources of power generation. We can't do that under investor owned utilities (IOUs) like National Grid. State regulation separates the generation and the distribution of electric power except for municipal utilities. There's a lot more, but there's one specific for you.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:17 
Separation of Powers:  
You do realize that a District Councilor has absolutely no control over state income tax, right? Is your solution to the City's fiscal problems a non-binding ceremonial resolution requesting more money?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:17 
Howie Hawkins: 
I've been an organizer for over 45 years. We need a movement of distressed cities, towns and school districts for Fiscal Justice from the state government. It was done before in 1971 when the cities successfully lobbied state government for the revenue sharing program. My campaign theme is going to be "Speaking Up for Syracuse," especially to the state government for Fiscal Justice. That is not an empty ceremony. That is about building a movement and power to get the result we need.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:19 
Zach:  
If have already made up your mind to run for 4th District councilor, what is the point of this forum?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:20 
Howie Hawkins: 
What we're about is getting real solutions to our problems. And those solutions and policies are the same, whether I get elected to mayor or 4th district. So, even if I was running for mayor, I would be advancing the same policies. So lets talk about the issues before our city and what we should do about them.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:21 
Bankrupt:  
How would a city owned utility work? Do you want the City to take all of Niagara Mohawk's lines by eminent domain? Who is going to pay for that?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:21 
Howie Hawkins: 
We would do like 22 towns in Upstate New York, in the heart of tea party country, a conservative area, who established the North Country Power Authority in the last few years. They got authorization from the state government to form their multi-town power authority and they're int he process of taking over the power distribution system that National Grid owns. The price would be negotiated with National Grid and if we can't agree on a price, it would be arbitrated in a court proceeding. We know that the original franchise agreement from the late 1800s that still governs the National Grid franchise in Syracuse gives the city the right to take back the utility and if a price cannot be agreed upon, it sets up a court process to determine the price. When we looked at the price, it is surprisingly economical when you account for the depreciation of National Grid's assets on their property assessments. National Grid won't say that. But we're confident the justices would go with the actual assessments. The great thing about public power is that it's accountable to the customers, not absentee owners whose primary concern is dividends and share value, not quality of service or clean energy or affordability for customers. Public power operates at cost, not for profit and has a record of providing lower cost power to it's customers than IOUs like National Grid. Public power utilities also have a record of paying more in PILOTS (payment in lieu of taxes) than IOUs pay municipalities in property taxes.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:28 
syracuse.com: 
We have time for one last question.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:28 
Dylan:  
Howie, your answer to Phil sounded overly optimistic. Aren't most voters afraid to do anything risky, like vote for you? They know they are getting screwed over by the Democrats and Republicans. And when you are at their door, your ideas sound great, but won't their fear of the unknown keep most people pulling the same two "acceptable" levers?
Monday May 20, 2013 12:28 
Howie Hawkins: 
I think the voters of the 4th district who gave me 48% in my last election think it's more risky to stick with the status quo. We're closing senior centers, cutting teaching staff, cutting the fire department - that's risky. I think the voters are ready for a change.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:30 
Howie Hawkins: 
Thank you for your questions. And I hope my answers were on point. You can find out more about me and my candidacy atwww.howiehawkins.com I look forward to talking with the voters of the 4th district in the neighborhoods over the course of the campaign. If there's a question I didn't answer here, ask it under the Suggestions tab on my website or put it in the comments section below. And I will answer your questions there.
Monday May 20, 2013 12:32 
syracuse.com: 
Thank you, Howie Hawkins, and thanks, syracuse.comreaders, for joining us and for your questions.
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