NYC Democratic Socialists of America - Howie Hawkins

NYC Democratic Socialists of America - Howie Hawkins

Howie answers questions about democratic socialism, climate change, public education, state governance and much more from DSA.

I. DSA and Democratic Socialism I.

A. Are you a member of DSA?


My running mate for Lt. Governor, Jia Lee, is a member of DSA.

B. Do you identify as a socialist? What does being a socialist mean to


Yes, I identify as a socialist.

I have been a member of the Socialist Party USA since it was established in 1973 by the Debs Caucus of the old Socialist Party of America, which changed its name to Social Democrats USA at its 1972 convention and immediately split three ways. The Debs Caucus was committed to independent politics and immediate withdrawal from Vietnam. Another wing led by Michael Harrington focused on reforming the Democratic Party in a realignment strategy toward the two-party system. That wing eventually became today's Democratic Socialists of America.

I am also a member of the socialist organization Solidarity.

I have published many articles in socialist publications likeAgainst the Current, Democracy and Nature,The Guardian newspaper, International Socialist Review,Our Generation, Socialist Worker, and The Socialist.

To me, socialism means the movement for self-emancipation by working class and oppressed people.

Socialism means democracy. Rosa Luxemburg: "There is no democracy without socialism, and no socialism without democracy."

Socialism means economic democracy through social ownership of the major means of production and distribution.

Socialism means independent political action by the exploited and oppressed speaking and acting for themselves from below through their own political party. The socialist movement needs its own distinct message and identity as an alternative that is opposed to the capitalist parties, which in New York State means the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the ballot-qualified minor parties that routinely cross-endorse the candidates of the capitalist parties.

Socialism means uprooting racism and all other forms of oppression, discrimination, and segregation based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, immigration status, religion, disability, and other invidious distinctions. We can't have working class solidarity and power without uprooting oppression based on various statuses within our class. The capitalist and professional/managerial classes have repeatedly promoted racism in particular throughout American history to divide working people and protect their own unearned income and other special privileges. The failure to prioritize anti-racist perspectives and practices, including respecting and supporting freedom movements initiated by racial minorities and other oppressed groups, has been the Achilles' heel of American progressive reform movements throughout our history because it has divided and weakened our movements.

Socialism means internationalism. International solidarity by the working class and oppressed people across borders is essential because the capitalist system is global and the fight for freedom, equality, peace, and the environment is worldwide and indivisible.

C. Are you willing to run publicly as a socialist? Would you publicize DSA's endorsement?

I am running publicly as a socialist. I am identified as such on my street literature, website, and facebook page.

I would proudly publicize DSA's endorsement as I have past endorsements from other socialist organizations, including International Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Party USA, and Solidarity.

D. Would you pledge not to take any campaign contributions from for-profit corporations or for-profit corporate PACs? Would you pledge not to take any campaign contributions from real estate developers, corporate lobbyists, and professional landlords?

The Rules of the Green Party of New York State on whose ballot line I am running require that Green candidates refuse contributions from for-profit entities. I helped draft those rules. Their purpose is to require that the Green Party maintains its political independence from the capitalists and their political representatives in the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Hawkins for Governor contribution rules on my website donation page goes further to limit the size of individual and PAC contributions to the federal limits because the state limits are so high as to encourage huge pay-to-play contributions that function as legalized bribery even when an illegal quid pro quo cannot be proven in court.

E. Would you be open to working with DSA when developing your platform?

Yes, of course.

Our platform is pretty well-developed since this is the third campaign I have run for New York governor. We have been happy to see some DSA-endorsed candidates (Jabari Brisport, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) do well running on the same policies and slogans, like the Green New Deal, we have run on in our campaigns.

But the platform is always evolving as some of our demands are won (ban on fracking) or implemented in watered-down form ($15 minimum wage, tuition-free public college, moratorium on using high-stakes tests for teacher evaluations), as new issues arise (conversion of coal-fired plants to imported fracked-gas plants), and as we learn more from people about their own issues.

We would welcome help particularly in developing more detailed policy papers to explain the reasons for and impacts of some of our key policy demands.

F. DSA has a large and active volunteer base. Would you allow DSA to train our own volunteers, run our own canvasses, and campaign openly as DSA members?


G. Would you allow the DSA Political Committee to create campaign materials to distribute during its work on your campaign?


Let's consult to be as clear as possible on our messaging. And that means we want your thoughts as well on materials the candidates and campaign staff are developing. We will also need to be clear on the campaign finance reporting if we are consulting.

On the other hand, if you do it as independent expenditures, we cannot "allow" you to do it because we cannot communicate with you about it under campaign finance laws. You would have to disclose your independent expenditures to the state Board of Elections.

We prefer to coordinate.

H. Who will be running your field program? Would you welcome DSA collaborating with your field program?

We would certainly welcome DSA's collaboration in our field organizing. The campaign manager is currently responsible for field organizing. We plan to hire field organizing director to focus on that aspect of the campaign. We plan to develop online materials and help for supporters to self-organize by localities, issues, and social identities.

I. Would you allow DSA to keep copies of all data we collect through voter contact?

Yes. As socialists, we are all about sharing. Would DSA share all its data collected as part of the campaign with our campaign?

K. What voter contact program are you using for your campaign?


L. In past campaigns, DSA has had teams of member-organizers who work directly with campaign staff on areas such as field, communications, fundraising, data, and legal compliance. Would you agree to this arrangement and guarantee your staff would build direct relationships with members of our campaign team?


II. Goals of Your Campaign

A. What is the central message of your campaign?

A Green New Deal for New York

Tax the rich and spend more on public infrastructure and services, including clean energy, universal public healthcare, public education from pre-K to college, public housing, mass transit, a public broadband utility, and environmental protection.

Scrap Cuomo's corrupt pay-to-play subsidies, tax breaks, and contracts to rich campaign contributors that don't trickle-down to the rest of us. Invest directly in public infrastructure and services in working class communities to revitalize the public sector and private economy from the bottom up.

B. What are the issues that will distinguish you from other candidates?

A socialist approach to social problems that sees social ownership and democratic administration as necessary conditions for solutions. Thus on particular issues:

  • NY OFF (Off Fossil Fuels) Act for 100% clean energy by 2030 (not 2050 like the Democratic bill passed by the Assembly, which is is too little, too late for the climate emergency). In addition, we call for public ownership of power and gas generation and distribution.

  • NY Health Act for a universal public healthcare plan.

  • Good Public Schools for All - Fully-funded, desegregated, and providing universal access to gifted-quality education and vocational training for all without tracking, from pre-K to college.

  • Homes for All - Statewide rent control and new public housing that is high quality, human scale, scatter site, mixed income, and powered by clean energy.

  • Public Broadband for universal access with net neutrality.

  • Public Banking to lower the costs of credit for public investment and private business and consumer loans.

  • Progressive Taxation to pay for the Green New Deal, including graduated income tax brackets for multi-millionaires, stock transfer tax, land value tax, and cuts on taxes on the earned incomes of low- and middle-income working people.

C. How will your campaign appeal to working class voters and those disaffected with the political process?

We will appeal to working class voters and the politically disaffected primarily by speaking to the issues that concern them: stagnant wages next to exploding rents and health care costs, access to good public education opportunities from pre-school to college, environmental health and safety issues, and so forth.

I and my running mate, Jia Lee, identify in our messaging as working class people ourselves - a Teamster and a Teacher running on an independent labor ticket. We hope many working class voters will identify with us as candidates who intuitively get their issues because we experience them, too.

We are appealing to the disaffected progressives and those who have stopped voting because they feel powerless by pointing out that we are different from the three Democrats running on different ballot lines who stood with the status quo for Clinton against Sanders in the 2014 presidential primary. We didn't advocate a self-defeating and demoralizing vote for the "lesser evil." We have been consistent in fighting for a real alternative to the two-party system of corporate rule that has relentlessly attacked the living standards of working people for four decades.

D. What party lines will you be seeking for the general election? Have you applied for the endorsement of the Working Families Party? Have you sought the endorsement of your county Democratic Committee?

We have the Green Party line secured for the general election.

We don't seek the WFP or Democratic lines or endorsements because we are socialists.

See our answer to Question I.B. above.

E. How much money will you need to successfully compete in this race? What is your plan to raise it?

We need at least $200,000 to hope to get our message out to most New Yorkers through earned media and field organizing. $200,000 is about what we raised in the 2014 campaign.

We will not beat Cuomo and other better funded candidates with more money. We will beat them with more people.

We need enough money to support the staff we need to help people self-organize around their localities, issues, and social identities in support of the campaign

We will also need to change the currently prevailing media narrative that disappears the Greens on the left and labels the three status quo Democrats (no matter what party label they are using in this race) as "the left" and "the progressives."

We plan to raise money as we did in 2014 with lots of small contributions. We make appeals by direct mail, email, social media, and phone calls. We also organize house parties and larger fundraising and organizing events.

F. What relationships do you have in your district that could form a base of support, through activism, organizing, work or personal networks?

I have supporters across the country from relationships built being active in movements for peace, justice, labor, and the environment since the late 1960s. I have relationships with activists across New York from issue campaigns concerning antiwar and anti-drone campaigns, education funding, welfare grants, fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure fights, criminal justice reform, and other issues. I have relationships with fellow Teamsters across the state from work and from reform fights, and with fellow veterans in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and my American Legion post. But my most important base of support is the Green Party of New York State, which we have built up into a grassroots organization of 15 locals in the state.

My running mate for Lt. Governor, Jia Lee, has relationships with teachers and Opt Out parents through her roles as a UFT Chapter Leader, candidate of the Movement of Rank and File Educators for UFT president in 2016, and a leader in the Opt Out movement with ties to its Long Island leaders.

G. What endorsements do you have from elected officials, political organizations, unions and community leaders?

We are just starting to seek endorsements. We expect early endorsements from several socialist organizations. We expect most endorsements in the fall, after the primaries shake out the general election line up, which is when we got most of the endorsements we received in 2014 from a variety of advocacy groups, publications, community leaders, union locals, and Democratic clubs.

III. Goals in Office

A. If elected, it's possible you'll be the only representative in Albany, or one of a few, who refuse corporate donations and support a Democratic Socialist vision for our state. How can a single representative contribute to bringing radical change to New York State?

First, electing an open socialist as Governor of New York will be a clear mandate for the changes we campaigned for. Legislators will get the message that they better cooperate with that mandate or they could be beat by a socialist challenger in the next election.

Second, a socialist governor can do little without a socialist movement backing him or her up. It will take a movement to win the election. Keeping the movement engaged after the election will be the key to what we can accomplish in office.

B. Constituent services staff generally act as a liaison between members of the public and state agencies, helping them navigate an inadequate status quo, rather than organizing them to create change. What would the role of constituent services staff in your district be? Do you think there is a role for district staff in creating a climate for radical political change?

Absolutely. Capitalist politicians serve their big donors. Socialist politicians should serve the ordinary people. Often that is indeed helping them to navigate the state bureaucracy to resolve an issue and we want to be good at that. But constituent services staff should also make it a priority to help progressive movements with information, access to resources, and public education on the issues.

C. Would you agree to appear at monthly DSA branch meetings in your district (when not in session in Albany)?


D. Would you join a Democratic Socialist caucus in the State Legislature? Would you start one?

I won't be in the legislature. But I would encourage any independent socialists elected to form one.

E. If elected, what are your top 3 priorities? What committees would you want to join?

1. Gifted-Quality Public Education for All - I will put the $4.2 billion cumulative shortfall in Foundation Aid into the budget plan to close the gap. I will tell the Attorney General to settle with the plaintiffs in the two lawsuits against the state for failing to fully fund Foundation Aid. I will send a program bill to the state legislature to reform the Foundation Aid formula so it is truly equitable for high-poverty school districts. I will put into the budget funding for universal pre-K and for truly tuition-free public higher education at CUNY, SUNY, and community colleges. I will submit a program bill to require desegregation of public education in New York through Controlled Choice, where parents and students rank their preferred schools and those choices are combined with a formula to achieve socioeconomic integration in all schools. Desegregation will also require redrawing school district lines where they now serve to segregate public schools by race and class.

2. 100% Clean Energy by 2030 - Enact the NY OFF (Off Fossil Fuels) Act to require that the state energy plan to detail with timelines and benchmarks how to achieve 100% clean energy by 2030. I will also introduce a program bill for full socialization of the New York energy system as a federation of locally-elected public power district boards that coordinate planning statewide through a democratized New York Power Authority.

3. Guaranteed Health Care - Enact the NY Health Act to provide universal publicly-funded health care for all. Improve the program by (1) providing for long-term care immediately, not in two years after enactment, (2) democratizing its administration, with locally-elected health care district boards that coordinate planning statewide as a federation, and (3) incentivizing and investing in publicly-owned healthcare providers to move from socialized healthcare insurance toward a socialized healthcare service.

IV. Housing as a Human Right

A. What do you believe are the causes of the housing crisis in New York? What is your vision for addressing the crisis?

The root cause of the housing crisis is the commodification of housing. The private housing market has never provided decent homes for all.

The housing crisis is getting worse in New York because the top 1% beneficiaries of massive flows of rent and interest are richer and politically stronger than ever. The share of all income going to the top 1% has grown from 12% in 1980 to 30% in New York State and 41% in New York City in 2014.

The housing crisis is statewide. Buffalo's rents rose at the third fastest rate among metro regions in the nation. New York City wasn't even in the top 25. Yet under the "progressive" De Blasio administration, the working class is being driven out of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and other parts of the city by policies favoring the landlords and developers that have bankrolled his entire political career.

Solutions to the housing crisis are socialist solutions:

First, stronger rent controls, on commercial as well as residential units. Rent control authority should be expanded to every local government in the state and devolved from the state legislature to local home rule. It's nuts that Republicans representing farmers in rural upstate New York are voting on legislation affecting rent regulations in New York City.

Second, we need massive investment in public housing, first to bring NYCHA buildings up to a high standard, and secondly, to radically expand the stock of public housing. The new units should be high quality, human scale, scatter site, mixed income, and powered by solar and wind and heated and cooled by heat pumps instead of natural gas. The public housing program will be a jobs program, a desegregation program, and a clean energy program as well as an affordable housing program. By radically expanding the supply of public housing units provided at cost, not for profit, the real costs of providing rental housing will be established and the private market will have to bring rents down to close to that level.

B. Do you believe housing is a human right?


C. Would you refuse to vote for any 2019 rent law renewal that failed to

end vacancy decontrol?


D. Do you support the following policies? For any you don't support,

please explain why. (Please tick the boxes or place a "Y" by each policy you support.)

Ending vacancy decontrol entirely


Ending the vacancy bonus entirely


Ending the preferential rent loophole


Making Major Capital Improvement (MCI) increases temporary


A statewide right to state-provided counsel for tenants in housing court


Legislation to outlaw the tenant blacklist that discourages tenants from seeking redress in court Y

Fully funding the $17 billion in repairs to NYCHA buildings, without privatizing NYCHA land Y

Offering state financing for affordable Community Land Trusts


V. Expanding and Deepening Our Democracy

A. If in office, will you commit to voting against any redistricting bill that maintains the state senate gerrymander in the wake of the 2020 census?

I would oppose such a bill. I favor independent nonpartisan redistricting by civil servants like Iowa does.

I also favor proportional representation from multi-member districts, which renders district boundaries of much less consequence in determining who is elected to represent us.

B. Do you support the following policies? For any you don't support, please explain why. (Please tick the boxes or place a "Y" by each policy you support.)

same-day registration


online registration


changing party enrollment deadlines to mirror registration deadlines

No. We need some protection from major parties raiding minor parties to control their line in a district. Raiding would be a problem with same-day registration. New York State's longest-in-the-nation waiting period for party enrollment changes to take effect should be shortened, but not so short as to allow party raiding.

offering green card holders the right to vote in state elections


enacting early voting in New York


public financing for state elections modeled on New York City's public campaign finance system

No. Partial public funding on the matching funds model is a reform that hasn't reformed. Private money still dominates. The real estate industry still controls most New York City politicians.

I favor full public campaign finance on the Clean Money model used in Arizona and Maine, where each candidate who opts in gets an equal public grant sufficient to convey their message to their electorate.

closing the LLC loophole in New York's campaign finance laws


fully nonpartisan redistricting in New York


Fully repealing New York's felony disenfranchisement laws


Reducing barriers to ballot access


Ranked choice voting or other alternatives to first-past-the-post, single district elections

I favor ranked-choice voting or instant-runoff voting for single-seat executive offices.

For legislative seats, I favor proportional representation using ranked-choice voting in the single transferable vote system where legislators are elected from multi-member districts. Ranked-choice voting as instant run-off voting for single-member legislative districts will not result in proportional representation.

VI. Labor

A. What is your relationship to the union movement in New York State? What would you do to support the rights of workers to form unions, and to expand unionization in New York State?

I'm a recently retired Teamster. As a member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, I afflicted the comfortable (Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and his machine) and comforted the afflicted (rank and filers, reformers in officer elections) in solidarity with Teamsters in my local, across the state, and nationally.

I am still involved with fellow Teamsters in the UPS contract fight now ongoing although I won't be able to vote on the new contract proposal. If I am not elected governor, I will probably go back to work at UPS, which is the consolation prize for the deep pension cuts we took as a result of an amendment to ERISA attached to the 2014 Omnibus Spending bill by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a founder of the "Progressive" Caucus in Congress, to appease the Republicans with cuts to our pensions in order to keep the government open. The Multi-Employer Pension Reform Act amended ERISA to permit multi-employer pension funds to cut earned benefits. I will get to keep my much-reduced pension payments while starting over at the bottom of the wage progression because I will lose my seniority. So I would be working for the state minimum of $10.40 for up to a limit of 1,000 hours a year.

I developed a good relationship with a number of teacher union activists across the state in 2014, which resulted in six teacher union locals endorsing our campaign while NYSUT stayed officially neutral. Those relationships helped me find a my running mate, Jia Lee, an 18-year public school teacher who is her UFT Chapter Leader and was nominated by UFT reform caucus, the Movement of Rank and File Educators, to run for UFT president in 2016. In 2014, I also ran with a socialist teacher, Brian Jones, as my running mate. I wanted to run again with a socialist teacher because Cuomo's education policies have been so destructive - underfunding high-poverty school districts, high-stakes testing to justify charter school privatization, nothing to integrate the most segregated schools in the nation by race and class.

To support union organizing and workers in the state, as governor I would make the following legislative proposals and regulatory changes:

  • Card Check: Extend the right to majority sign-up or card-check recognition of union bargaining status to all New York workers, with the right of new unions to submit a first contract to binding arbitration at the request of the union.

  • Just Cause: Enact a Wrongful Discharge From Employment Act that protects employees from at-will discharges by providing that after a probationary period an employee can be terminated only for just cause defined as failure to satisfactorily perform job duties, disruption of operations, or other legitimate business reasons.

  • Wage Board Sectoral Bargaining: Expand the use of wage boards to that bring together unions, businesses, and government to bargain for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions for employees across a specific industries, especially in low-wage sectors as home health care, retailing, and farm work, as was done in recent years for fast food workers and tipped workers in New York State.

  • Prohibit 24-Hour Workdays and Unpaid Labor on 24-Hour Shifts: Replace 24-Hour shifts in the home care industry with split shifts. Repeal the recent NYS Department of Labor regulation allowing no pay for 11 hours of 24-hour shifts by home care workers. Following three state appellate court rulings in the second appellate division in September 2017 requiring healthcare agencies to pay home care workers for all their hours on 24-hour shifts, Governor Cuomo's Department of Labor issued "emergency regulations" in October consistent with contrary federal court rulings allowing payment for only 13 hours.

  • Labor Law Protections for Farmworkers: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards.

  • Labor Law Protections for Prisoners: Enact legislation to end the super-exploitation of prison labor at pennies per hour, which undercuts the wages of workers and earnings of businesses outside the prison system. The prison labor system as it exists now is akin to slavery and the prison labor camps in other authoritarian countries. Work done by prisoners can be part of rehabilitation and enable prisoners to acquire job skills, support their families, and have savings upon release. Work done by prisoners for private contractors and for public services should be paid prevailing wages. Prison workers should have all the protections of labor law, including the right to organize unions.

B. The Supreme Court is likely to invalidate key provisions of New York's public sector labor law in the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME case. How should New York respond?

The Supreme Court has now ruled for Janus and made public employee unions operate in right-to-work-for-less environment.

I support Governor Cuomo's executive order in response requiring the contact information for pubic employees remain private so they are not harassed by union-busting operations.

I also support the legislation Governor Cuomo signed that allows public employee unions to deny services to people who do not join the union. But I would urge the unions to be careful in using that right because it could divide the work force and play right into the hand of the fiscal-hawk politicians who want to use Janus to divide and conquer labor in the public sector.

C. How can we ensure fair conditions for people working in New York State's gig economy?

Pass state laws that make companies like Fed Ex, Uber, and Lyft treat their workers as employees, not independent contractors.

Pass the labor law reforms like majority-card check union recognition to make it easier for gig economy workers to organize unions to bargain collectively.

Set up publicly-owned temp agencies that operate at cost for the benefit of temporary workers, not for the profit of investors in private temp agencies, which keep as much as half of the wages companies pay temp agencies for these workers..

Support the development of more worker co-ops in sectors with a lot of temporary work, like the Bronx-based Cooperative Home Care Associates.

D. Would you support modification of the Taylor Law to eliminate restrictions on the rights of public sector workers to strike? Would you unconditionally support any striking workers in New York, even if their actions violate legal restrictions like the Taylor Law?

I would support striking public workers if they chose that tactic.

As long as the public employee unions support the Taylor Law with the Triborough Amendment, I will too.

I oppose repeal of the Triborough Amendment, which conservative politicians and think tanks have proposed. The 1967 Taylor Law (Public Employees Fair Employment Act) permits public employees to organize unions, but denies them the right to strike. Management had little incentive to bargain in good faith with public employee unions that had no right to strike until the 1982 Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law.

The Triborough Amendment rebalanced the power between management and public employees by providing that when there is an impasse in negotiations when a contact expires, the terms of the previous contract continue. Arbitration (binding for police and firefighters, advisory for others) is employed to help resolve the dispute.

If the Triborough Amendment were repealed, management would have no incentive to negotiate a fair contract because it could then change as management alone saw fit the wages, benefits, and working conditions of workers now without a contract, leaving the workers and their unions with no legal recourse, including the right to strike.

VII. Racial Justice and Ending Mass Incarceration

A. Often calls to end mass incarceration focus on the "easy" question of "non-violent offenders." Given that such a large part of the prison population is made up of "violent offenders," what policies would you support, if any, to reduce the number of people imprisoned for violent offenses and ensure they do not end up reincarcerated?

I will use the pardon powers of the governor to release many aging violent offenders who pose little threat to public safety.

I will convene a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission, as Dr. Alice Green of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany has petitioned Governor Cuomo to do. The Commission will study the impact of mass incarceration, hear from the families and communities harmed, and recommend policies to repair the damages. The remedies coming out of this commission would no doubt include providing jobs, homes, and education for people re-entering the community from prison to reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

I will reform the parole board system. The default position is denial of parole. The hearings are short and perfunctory because they have too many cases to review. I will clean house and appoint all new commissioners for the parole board who are committed to rehabilitation, redemption, and public safety. I will change policies, including a review for parole for all prisoners over 55 who have served at least 15 years and a policy of presumptive release at the first parole hearing unless the inmate poses a clear threat to public safety.

I want to reduce the large proportion of the incarcerated who are people charged but not convicted of crimes by enacting the following

  • Abolition of cash bail.

  • Kalief's Law for Speedy Trials by eliminating unjustified trial delays by prosecutors.

  • Open File Discovery to make prosecutors' files open to defendants, with exceptions only when a judge rules turning over certain evidence might endanger a witness.

Ending mass incarceration means ending the war on drugs. Drug abuse should be treated as a medical problem, not a drug problem.

I support the legalization of marijuana.

I favor the decriminalization of hard drugs for personal use on the Portugal model, which eliminates criminal penalties for low-level possession and consumption of all illicit drugs and treat these activities as violations. A person found in possession of personal-use amounts of hard drugs is no longer arrested, but ordered to appear before a local "dissuasion commission" - comprised of one legal official and two health and social service officials - who take a health-centered approach. They determine whether and to what extent the person is addicted and refer that person to a voluntary treatment program or order payment of a fine or other administrative sanctions. Drug trafficking offenses remain illegal and processed through the criminal justice system. This Portuguese harm reduction model has cut crime, reduced overdoses and deaths, and reduced overall illicit drug use.

B. What steps would you support taking to end the "school-to-prison pipeline"? What is your view on the role of police in schools?

It's a community-to-prison pipeline. The schools are just one staging area for the prison pipeline. Schools alone can't solve that problem. The schools with high disciplinary and suspension problems are invariably the schools in high-poverty communities. I would invest in high-poverty communities to end the homelessness, unemployment, street crime, and interpersonal conflicts that arise with concentrated poverty.

New York State's adoption of test based accountability measures, in compliance with, to start, No Child Left Behind, followed by Race to the Top, and now the current Every Student Succeeds Act has led to the use of un-researched value-added metrics (VAM). Backed by corporate lobbyists and hedge funds, these policies have resulted in disproportionate adverse consequences in poorer Black and Brown communities through state-sanctioned labeling and school takeovers and closures. According to a study conducted by the National Opportunity to Learn campaign, Black and Brown students are 20 times more likely to attend a school that is under-resourced, labeled as failing, and then slated for closure. The disruption and displacement of these students pushes many of them into the school-to-prison pipeline.

A secondary impact of education legislation backed by wealthy investors promoting the testing and charter industries is the narrowing of the curriculum and stripping educators' ability to teach culturally relevant pedagogy. Underfunded schools has meant the elimination of arts, sports and physical education, basic infrastructure maintenance, and an increase in negative student behaviors. Returning greater educational autonomy and democratic decision-making by school communities in educational policy are central to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

My running mate, Jia Lee, testified before the U.S. Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in January of 2015 on the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act for testing and accountability, where she made it clear that the privatization policies have had a detrimental impact on students and their communities. As a public school teacher in New York City, she has been a conscientious objector to high-stakes testing, refusing to administer the state standardized tests, the tools used to rank and sort students and schools and punish poor students simply for being poor.

My experience on this issue is shaped by how it has played out in my home city of Syracuse. Syracuse schools five years ago had a higher rate of suspensions than almost every other school district in the nation, with one third of the students suspended in 2012-13 and blacks student suspended at nearly four times the rate of white students. The Attorney General's office stepped in and developed a contract with the Syracuse City School District to reduce suspensions through due process for students, conflict resolution training, and restorative justice practices. Two years into the program in 2017, suspensions were cut in half, while black students were suspended at twice instead of four times the rate of white students.

This limited reduction in suspensions and their racial disparity still leaves a huge problem that is pushing students, particularly students of color, out of the Syracuse schools. This result shows that only so much can be done within the schools. Unless poverty outside the schools is addressed, the prison pipeline will continue to flow.

As for police in the schools, I want to leave that to the discretion of each school community. I think most schools don't need police. But as I have heard in Syracuse from parents, teachers, and students alike in Syracuse schools, some school communities do want police because there is a lot of conflict coming into the schools from the streets, which has resulted in many serious injuries to students and teachers. These school communities want police resource officers in spite of several cases of Syracuse police brutality documented on video in the schools and elsewhere in our city. Until we alleviate the problems of poverty that come into the schools, each school community should have the right to bring in police resource officers if they choose to.

C. What is your opinion on automated decision systems ("algorithms") used by the State Government, for example, for assigning funding to school districts, for determining bail in judicial hearings, or for predictive policing? Would you support legislation to bring these systems, which are often proprietary software, under public oversight?

Algorithms are appropriate for some applications and not for others. It is a case by case question and it depends of the algorithm.

For school funding, an algorithm is fine if it is right. The Foundation Aid formula needs revision to be fair to high-poverty districts even after it is fully funded.

For bail, cash bail should be abolished. Algorithms for assigning risks to public safety and for flight for accused offenders should be one tool, with judges allowed to use discretion to account for other factors in making their rulings on whether to hold or release the person charged with a crime.

For predictive policing, algorithms can lead to over-policing that leads to a self-reinforcing cycle of mass incarceration and high crime in an area. Predictive policing algorithms could just as well lead to crime prevention by increased problem-solving and conflict resolution by community policing and other city programs instead of simply more patrol officers issuing more tickets and making more arrests.

In any case, all these algorithms should be public, not proprietary, so they can be held accountable and studied for improvement.

D. Do you support the following policies? For any you don't support, please explain why. (Please tick the boxes or place a "Y" by each policy you support.)

Authorizing and funding the State AG's office to investigate police departments for unconstitutional policing

Yes. I have long been involved in a proposal for federal involvement in such cases with family and friends of the late Jonny Gammage, a cousin of then Pittsburgh Steeler Ray Seals, both from Syracuse. Gammage was suffocated to death in a routine traffic stop in 1995. Our proposal for a Jonny Gammage Law would require the appointment of a federal prosecutor by the US Attorney General whenever a law officer is accused of violating the civil rights of a human being, including bodily injury or death.

Sentencing reform to reduce the length of sentences for most crimes


Early release


Prison diversion programs


A commitment to bringing New York's incarceration rate down to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average within 10 years


a statewide prohibition on exclusionary school discipline (i.e., suspensions and expulsions)


The decriminalization of all drugs


Full legalization of recreational marijuana


Retroactive application of marijuana legalization and automatic clearing of marijuana convictions


Raising the age of majority for all felony convictions to 21


Ending cash bail for all crimes throughout New York


VIII. Socialist Feminism

A. Do you consider yourself a feminist?


B. What would you do to address high rates of violence against transgender women, particularly trans women of color?

I will use the governor's public platform to speak out for the right of transgender women and all gender non-conforming people to live with dignity and safety. I will require training of public employees on the issues faced by transgender and gender non-conforming people. I will have all state forms and ID provide for more than male or female options.

I will push for passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) to provide equal protection for transgender and gender non-conforming people in education, employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

C. Do you support state-mandated paid parental leave for all parents, regardless of how the child arrived?


D. Do you support the right to universal free childcare?


E. What would you do in office to address the problem of sexual harassment and assault against women in precarious situations, whether in housing, immigration, or low-wage work, that imperils their livelihood, homes, or presence in this country?

I will enact programs to end the feminization of poverty that puts women in precarious situations with respect to employment, housing, and immigration status, including:

  • Jobs for all willing and able to work, with public jobs for the unemployed in public works and public services to meet community-defined needs.

  • A state $20/hour minimum wage, indexed to productivity by 2020.

  • A guaranteed adequate income above poverty for all who cannot or should not work.

  • Education in lieu of work requirements for people participating in TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).

  • Exempting women from TANF work requirements if they have children under five.

  • Quality, affordable childcare for all who need it.

  • Sanctuary State policies to shield undocumented women from harassment and coercion.

I will strengthen the sexual harassment policy for state employees. The sexual harassment law enacted in March 2018 bans nondisclosure agreements except when the condition of confidentiality is the explicit preference of the victim. It prohibits mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment complaints. It requires government employees found responsible for committing harassment to refund any taxpayer-financed payouts. But it failed to clearly define sexual harassment, which means the policies could be narrowly interpreted and ineffective. The public still cannot access records about harassment claims because the state Legislature is not subject to the state's own open records law. The law should also needs a more expansive coverage of gender-based discrimination.

IX. Health Care as a Human Right

A. Would you support the New York Health Act and the establishment of a universal right to comprehensive health care in New York state?


B. Would you support New Yorkers' rights to reproductive health care, including abortion without restriction and on demand? How would you guarantee poor and working class people have access to reproductive care? Would you support the Reproductive Health Act in NY?

I support the Reproductive Health Act. I would guarantee poor and working class women access to reproductive care by including those services under the NY Health Act.

C. How would you improve current laws designed to aid people with disabilities?

Create an office of Community Living within the administration to focus on helping disabled people live independently with a decent standard of living and avoid institutionalization.

Upgrade home health aid wages and training. Establish a wage board for sectoral bargaining to increase home care aides' wages. Amend the Nurse Practices Act to allow nurses to assign and supervise trained Advanced Home Health Aides to perform care services outside of institutions for disabled people.

Build new public housing units in sufficient number to meet the need of disabled people for accessible and affordable units in new public housing developments that are integrated by ability and socioeconomic status.

Use state agencies to hire more disabled people people into civil service careers.

Radically improve accessibility of mass transit systems, including elevators at subway stations. Radically upgrade the MTA's Access-A-Ride service for accessibility and on-time performance.

Upgrade the accessibility of polling stations for disabled people.

D. Would you support full access to healthcare for all, including healthcare needed to support transgender persons?


X. Public Education

A. Do you support making CUNY and SUNY tuition free? What is your opinion of Governor Cuomo's Excelsior Scholarship program as it relates to this goal?

I support making CUNY and SUNY schools tuition-free and accessible for all who want to attend as far as their needs, interests, and efforts take them. To make it truly accessible, I support also providing a minimum livable income for post-secondary education for up to four years as the post World War II G.I. Bill did.

The Excelsior Scholarship program is typical of Cuomo's "progressive" initiatives - it falls far short of the tuition-free public college that was announced at a hyped-up news conference with Bernie Sanders there to give his blessings.

The over 95% of SUNY and CUNY students don't qualify for Excelsior Scholarships. As a last-dollar scholarship, it prevents students from using Pell Grants for books and living expenses because it requires all Pell Grant money go to tuition. It is designed for full-time students, which excludes most working class people with family obligations who have to work while going to school. Remedial courses don't count toward the required yearly course work, which excludes many students from the high-poverty schools that Cuomo underfunds and offer little college preparation course work. It excludes Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants. It is just not a program to make CUNY and SUNY tuition free for any but a very few.

B. Would you oppose all efforts by the state to mandate an expansion of charter school operations in New York City?


C. Would you support New York State fulfilling the promise of the Campaign For Fiscal Equity by increasing funding to public schools by $4 billion, most of which is owed to districts with high percentages of Black, Brown and low-income students?


D. Would you oppose efforts by New York state legislators to deny state funding to organizations supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and to ban the Students for Justice in Palestine organization from CUNY campuses?

Yes. This legislation is an unconstitutional assault on First Amendment rights.

XI. Economic Justice

A. Do you think the state should have a role in financing and supporting alternative economic models such as workers cooperatives? Would you support common ownership of natural resources of New York State and any technologies or innovations developed with public funding?


I favor a state bank that includes a division devoted to helping to plan, finance, and advise worker cooperatives on the very successful model of the Mondragon cooperatives' Entrepreneurial Division within its bank, Caja Laboral. The functions of strategic planning, long-term equity financing, and consulting were moved in the early 1990s from the bank to endowed non-profit institutional locations, but the basic model still obtains and works well.

I co-founded and worked in a construction worker cooperative from 1978 to 1982 that specialized in energy audits and solar, wind, and energy efficiency installations. Changes under the Reagan administration that ended tax credits for high-end customers and reduced Community Action Program subsidies for low-end insulation jobs took our market away. But while it lasted, it was the best job I had as a laborer, carpenter, and glazier in 22 years of construction work. I got the full fruits of my labor, which I didn't working for other contractors, and I didn't have to slave day and night working on bids, hiring, payroll, and other administration as well as the physical labor when I did my own contracting.

I also favor common ownership of natural resources and publicly-developed technology. All technology is social wealth. Innovations stand on the shoulders of earlier innovations. They are all part of our common inheritance.

I favor the immediate step of asserting our common rights to natural resources and social innovations by taxing economic rent, including land rent, natural resource rents, and monopoly rents accruing to intellectual property owners.

In this regard, I support a state land value tax (LVT) to recapture for the public use the unearned increment from the rising value of land sites due to social investments. The rent and interest derived from rising land site values is the biggest single contributor to the increasing share of income captured by the top 1% in New York State and New York City. That unearned income should be returned to the public. The revenues from a state LVT should be largely returned to local governments by an equitable formula, with a portion retained by the state for public investments and programs that benefit all communities. The increased revenues from a state LVT can also be used to offset and reduce taxes on earned income from low- and middle-income wages. The revenue sharing from a state LVT would enable local governments to reduce property taxes, which are the highest in the nation outside of New York City and are regressive taxes that hit the bottom income quintile (largely renters) the hardest and then is basically a flat tax with respect to income, except for the top 1% whose the rates with respect to income are radically lower.

Also in this regard, we should institute eco-taxes that help protect our environmental commons, starting with a progressive carbon tax, with the revenues used for rebates to low- and moderate-income households and dedicated funding for clean energy programs.

B. Due to lack of infrastructure in rural and low-income areas, and lack of inexpensive options, many households in the state of New York do not have internet access. What should the State be doing to guarantee that all residents have low-cost, high-speed internet access?

The state should set up a public broadband network to provide all residents with low-cost, high-speed internet with net neutrality and user-friendly customer service that the big private internet service providers like Spectrum and Verizon fail miserably at providing.

C. Do you support the following policies? For any you don't support, please explain why. (Please tick the boxes or place a "Y" by each policy you support.)

Millionaire's tax


Financial Transaction Tax


A vacancy tax to discourage warehousing by landlords and speculative investment in luxury housing


New York City home rule to establish new taxes for local revenue generation


Formation of a public bank by the state to ensure all New Yorkers have access to financial services


XII. Immigrant Justice

A. What steps do you think are necessary to build a true Sanctuary environment in New York state? Would you support the Liberty Act, a proposal to bring sanctuary city policies to the state level?

Passing the Liberty Act is a necessary step in making New York a Sanctuary State , which was part of my platform for governor in 2014 as well as in 2018. The Liberty Act will prohibit state agencies from collecting or sharing individuals' immigration information with federal agencies.

Other steps are outlined under questions XII A and B below.

As governor, I will use my public platform to speak up for immigrant rights, oppose anti-immigrant federal policies, and condemn anti-immigrant statements and actions by the white nationalist right.

B. Would you support legislation to prohibit the use of resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to collect or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals?

Yes. We have the right under the 4th Amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and the 10th Amendments prohibition against federal authorities hijacking local law enforcement agencies to refuse cooperation with federal immigration authorities without a judicial warrant.

C. What other steps would you take at the state level to protect New York's immigrant communities against unjust federal policies?

Enact the New York DREAM Act to enable 4,500 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year to pursue a college education.

Issue drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, which will enhance public safety as well as equal justice under law.

Expand the Liberty Defense Project by increasing funding from $10 million to $20 million to provide immigrants with legal services and process.

Prohibit the use of public funds in New York State to enforce federal immigration laws.

Maintain Executive Order 179 (September 15, 2017) that prohibits:

  • state agencies and officers from inquiring about or disclosing an individual's immigration status unless required by law or necessary to determine eligibility for a benefit or service.

  • law enforcement officers from inquiring about immigration status unless investigating illegal criminal activity, including, but not limited to, when an individual approaches a law enforcement officer seeking assistance, is the victim of a crime, or is witness to a crime.

Maintain the Attorney General Office's Civil Rights Bureau guidance for local law enforcement to limit their participation in federal immigration enforcement activities, including:

  • refusing to enforce non-judicial civil immigration warrants issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP),

  • protecting New Yorkers' Fourth Amendment rights by denying federal requests to hold uncharged individuals in custody more than 48 hours,

  • limiting access of ICE and CBP agents to individuals currently in custody,

  • limiting information gathering and reporting that will be used exclusively for federal immigration enforcement.

D. Do you have any plans for conducting investigations into detention center abuses and making those investigations transparent?

As governor I will use every point of legal leverage the state has - from permits and licenses to applicable laws - to open up the detention centers to inspection and public transparency and accountability.

E. What existing connections do you have with immigrant-led groups?

I work with the Workers Center of Central New York, which organizes undocumented immigrants and low-wage workers; campaigns against ICE detentions in Syracuse and Customs and Border Protection racial profiling, check points, and "papers please" stops within 100 miles of the Canadian border; and supports immigrants and their families when family members are detained for deportation.

XIII. Environmental Justice

A. Do you support the following policies? For any you don't support, please explain why. (Please tick the boxes or place a "Y" by each policy you support.)

Ensuring causes of asthma and other environmentally harmful sites such as utilities and transit hubs are not disproportionately sited in working class communities and communities of color


Legislation to abate mold and toxins in public housing and private residences


Resilience measures to curb increasing flooding and retrofit buildings, parks, and roadways and the introduction of locally owned energy microgrids


Ensuring any resilience measures be used to increase employment and/or support full employment at prevailing wages


Congestion pricing


levying a gas tax and using its proceeds for mass transit?

Yes to increasing the gas tax, but I would use some of the proceeds for roads and bridges as well. I think that is politically more doable.

It is now time to think about making ride services, with or without self-driving cars, into a public utility for urban mass transit on the street grids. The tendency of software platforms like Uber and Lyft, just like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, is their monopolization. Most people move to the platform with the most information and options. Making this emerging monopoly a publicly-owned utility will cut costs to the public and enable public accountability and public interest improvements of the service.

We can fund improvement of both mass transit and the road system through comprehensive progressive tax reform, including graduated brackets for multi-millionaires' income taxes, keeping instead of rebating the stock transfer tax, land value taxation, and other measures I have outlined in the Progressive Taxation section of my platform .

I also support a Progressive Carbon Tax with rebates to low- and moderate-income households. The carbon tax will make polluters pay for their damages and make private investments in clean energy pay off.

The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act

I did not opposed the passage by the Assembly of this bill this Spring, but it is too little, too late to address the climate crisis. The climate science indicates that industrial economies like New York State's have to move to 100% clean energy by 2030 if the planet is to avert runaway global warming and a climate catastrophe.

I am campaigning for the NY Off Fossil Fuels Act (NY OFF, A.5105A/S. 5908A ). The bill would amend the state's energy master plan to require a transition to 100% clean energy by 2030. It would halt the building of any new infrastructure for natural gas or other fossil fuels.

I campaigned as the Green candidate for Governor of New York in 2010 and 2014 calling for 100% clean energy by 2030 and a halt to new fossil fuel infrastructure. When I called for a ban on fracking in 2010, most of the environmental movement was calling for natural gas to replace coal as the "bridge to the renewable future" or, at best, a moratorium on fracking while we studied its impact on aquifers and waterways. My campaign said fracked gas was a climate issue as well and after the 2010 campaign the fracking ban became the consensus demand of New York environmentalists and Cuomo conceded to it after the 2014 campaign. Now we have a bill in NY OFF, which Green Party members helped to draft and which embodies the demand we have been campaigning for. We believe this bill, not the Climate and Community Protection Act, is what the movement should push.

The Climate and Community Protection Act has significant shortcomings compared to the NY OFF Act.

  • OFF NY requires 100% clean energy by 2030 while CCPA waits until 2050.

  • Only NY OFF requires local governments to develop Climate Action Plans in concert with a state Climate Action Plan.

  • Only OFF NY defines clean energy as solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal - and not nuclear, biomass, or natural gas and other fossil fuels.

  • Only NY OFF stops new fossil fuel infrastructure.

  • Only NY OFF phases out nuclear power.

  • Only NY OFF requires zero emissions for all new vehicles, with a deadline of 2025.

  • Only NY OFF requires net zero emissions for new buildings, with a deadline of 2020.

The CCPA has good provisions with respect to Just Transition and Environmental Justice policies. But these measures are also in NY OFF, which provides for climate justice boards, job training and replacement jobs for workers displaced by the energy transition, funding to cover lost local property taxes due to power plant closures, and conveying a generous portion climate funds to disadvantaged communities.

Fully funding the MTA capital plan


Reducing or eliminating MTA fares

Yes. Free or reduced fares for public transit is needed to relieve working class household budgets and discourage commuting by car. The lost revenue from fares would be covered by more progressive taxation and increased mass transit budgets.

Upgrading subway stations to expand handicap accessibility


Making our state entirely free from reliance on fossil fuels by 2035

Too late. See my discussion above of the NY OFF Act for 100% clean energy by 2030.

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