Howie Hawkins is the Green Party candidate for governor of New York. He is running alongside Jia Lee, Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor. As a young adult, Hawkins was involved in political activism, and was one of the founding members of the Green Party. He has previously run for New York governor and for U.S. Senate. He was also Jill Stein’s running mate for vice president when she ran in the 2016 presidential election. Hawkins is originally from San Francisco, California, and currently lives in Syracuse, New York.
1. Fighting corruption at the state level is a big concern for citizens across New York during this election cycle. What is your plan to tackle corruption in Albany?
“Enact full public campaign finance. Reopen the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption. Close the LLC loophole. Ban campaign donations from state lobbyists and contractors. Replace the politician-appointed Joint Commission on Public Ethics with an independent ethics oversight commission. Full-time legislators with limits on outside income. Term limits, two four-year terms for state executive offices and six two-year terms for state legislators.”
2. What, in your opinion, are the biggest issues facing New York? How do you plan to handle them?
“The two biggest issues are the climate emergency and the concentration of income, wealth and power in the hands of the 1 percent. I will push for passage of the New York Off Fossil Fuels Act, a program to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2030, which is what the climate science says we must do to avert runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. New York has the most unequal distribution of income of any state in the nation. The share of state income going to the top 1 percent has grown from 12 percent in 1980 to 31 percent today. I will tax the 1 percent in order to revitalize public services and infrastructure, from fully funding public schools to fixing New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). That will create hundreds of thousands of good jobs, purchasing power will increase and private businesses will expand and hire to meet the new demand. We call it the Green New Deal.”
3. The implementation of the Excelsior Scholarship radically changed New York’s postsecondary education landscape. How do you plan to further efforts to make education accessible and affordable to young people across the state?
“Only 3 percent of SUNY students qualified for the Excelsior Scholarship. Working-class students who must attend school part-time because they have to work to pay the rent and support their families are not helped by the Excelsior Scholarship. Excelsior is a last-dollar scholarship, meaning it is granted only after all other aid, like Pell Grants, are committed to tuition. It doesn’t help with living expenses. I will enact real tuition-free SUNY and CUNY. It will cost about 1 percent of the state budget. That is a good investment.”
4. Why should students and young people across New York vote for you?
“The Democrats and Republicans have left students and young people a mess. One point six trillion dollars in student debt. The rich getting richer while the rest struggle with stagnant wages as the rent, property taxes, health care and college costs rise. Pay-to-play corruption in Albany and Washington. An accelerating climate crisis. Real solutions can’t wait. The Green Party is fighting for them. Don’t waste your vote on one of the two government parties of the two-party corporate state. Vote for the changes you want and make the politicians come to you. Vote Green.”