Hawkins focuses on pushing Cuomo left in third Green party bid
ALBANY — Howie Hawkins, who will run for governor for the third time as the Green Party candidate, says his campaign will help make a ban on new natural gas infrastructure, full funding for schools and single-payer health care a reality in New York.
"What our little Green Party does in New York matters," Hawkins said in Albany as he announced his candidacy on Thursday. "You don't have to win the office to make the difference."
Hawkins won 170,000 votes four years ago, a total that helped position the Green Party as the fourth on the ballot, ahead of the Working Families Party, which is currently mulling whether to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo or his challenger, actor Cynthia Nixon.
Hawkins said he will focus on organizing and building up local Green Party candidates as he campaigns.
Hawkins said the party's showing four years ago, when it won 5 percent of the vote, helped push Cuomo to the left on several issues. Priorities that Hawkins backed as early as 2010 — a ban on fracking, paid family leave, a $15 minimum wage — have since become a reality.
Hawkins will be campaigning full time this year, having left his job at UPS. The party will make a priority of education this time around, Hawkins said. He is backing full funding of foundation aid, changes to the formula to give more to poorer school districts, and elimination of high-stakes testing. He also said the state should push to desegregate schools, perhaps by merging school districts.
"Those school district lines have become like Jim Crow lines today in New York," he said.
Hawkins continues to back what he calls a "Green New Deal" that would raise taxes and increase funding for renewable energy projects, public housing and other infrastructure. He also said he will push for getting to 100 percent renewable energy and banning any new natural gas pipelines or power plants, two major priorities of environmental groups.
Cuomo should also push to get the state Senate to vote on a single-payer health care measure that's already passed the Assembly for several years, Hawkins said.
The self-labeled "eco-socialist" contrasted his campaign with that of Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary, arguing that Democrats have been in power before but have not delivered on priorities for working people.