Local leaders endorsed Green Party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins during his Wednesday visit to Tompkins County. Standing in the rain with guitar, spoken word and hip hop entertainment emceed by Carolina Osorio Gil, a crowd in Ithaca's downtown Press Bay Alley welcomed the Syracuse organizer. Hawkins is the only gubernatorial candidate to visit Tompkins County.
"The issues I'm about to outline for you, I think the majority of people in New York want. If they vote for what they want, I'll be the next governor. And we're going to have New York be an example for the rest of the country and the rest of the world," was Hawkins' opener to a detailed overview of his "Green New Deal" to increase needed services with tax revenue from the most wealthy while reducing taxes on the remaining 95% of New Yorkers.
"I have watched with horror what Governor Cuomo is doing to New York State," explained Tompkins County legislator Will Burbank, continuing "It's against the [Democratic] party rules, if you're a member of the local party committee, you may not endorse someone running against the party. You are forced to do as I did: resign from the committee. And I did so because I really want to support Howie Hawkins for governor!"
The supervisors of three Tompkins County towns, Caroline's Don Barber, Ulysses' Liz Thomas and Enfield's Ann Rider, agreed with Burbank's choice for governor. Village of Lansing Deputy Mayor Lynn Leopold emphasized that Hawkins is the sole candidate for governor opposing hydrofracking, an issue that has dominated town politics in Tompkins County for years. "What's to lose? The whole Finger Lakes Region if fracking comes in!" said Leopold.
Former Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson "will be voting for Howie Hawkins because his platform, one that is based on transparency, best addresses the issues I care about" noting workers rights, climate change and the "debilitating" tax cap concept where "the poorest communities were bound to suffer." Ithaca City Judge Seth Peacock spoke about his support for the fellow Teamster (Hawkins unloads UPS trucks and Peacock is a former truck driver) and the importance of free public higher education, an issue that Hawkins spoke about at length Wednesday.
"It's completely realistic for Howie to win Tompkins County on November 4th. In Syracuse, he's polling 2nd place. Astorino is the new third party candidate," said Mike Perry, Tompkins County Green Party organizer.
"Many more local elected officials say privately they will definitely vote for Hawkins, but won't go public out of fear that needed funding from Albany may be affected," said Jennifer Dotson, former Ithaca Alderwoman, Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit past board chair, and Tompkins County Green Party co-chair. Economic development and other state grants are often sought by local municipalities in New York State to support utility and transportation projects not fully paid by federal funds. Caroline Town Councilmembers Irene Weiser and Mark Witmer and Cornell faculty Robert Howarth have publicly endorsed Hawkins, and four other current elected officials attended Wednesday's event.
In Trumansburg Thursday morning, small business owner Patricia Heckart took a yard sign. "Healthcare, education, ban fracking, living wage, affordable housing—what more can I ask for? We have to fight for our democracy back. We have to build a third party because the Democrats and Republicans are just the left and right arms of corporate power," Heckart said.
Event organizer Caleb Thomas said he plans to watch the televised debate among the four candidates for governor at an event Wednesday evening co-hosted by Tompkins County Rising, a progressive coalition supporting Hawkins.
Endorsements currently include
1. Tompkins County District 12 Legislator Will Burbank
2. Caroline Town Supervisor Don Barber
3. Ulysses Town Supervisor Liz Thomas
4. Enfield Town Supervisor Ann Rider
5. former Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson
6. Village of Lansing Deputy Mayor Lynn Leopold
7. City Judge Seth Peacock
8. former Ithaca Alderwoman Jennifer Dotson
9. Caroline Town Councilmember Mark Witmer
10. Caroline Town Councilmember Irene Weiser
11. Robert Howarth, David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, Cornell University, leading researcher on energy policy impact on climate change