Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for governor of New York, spoke against the United States’ two-party political system and in support of his own progressive ideas during a recent visit to Ithaca College.
The event was organized by IC Greens, a club focused around community-based economics, economic justice, feminism, gender equity, respect for diversity, personal and global responsibility, and sustainability for the future, according to the organization’s webpage.
Only 21 students attended the event, which IC Greens president Joshua Kelly said was due to the short two-week planning time. However, he said the event would be a success if only one student was affected.
“I think we got a lot of people here who aren’t necessarily Green who are being exposed to new innovative ideas,” Kelly said.
Hawkins spoke in favor of the four pillars of the Green Party: non-violence, grassroots democracy, social justice and ecology.
Hawkins described the “Green New Deal,” an economic plan he would implement if elected governor. He said his plan would raise the minimum wage to $15, as well as provide universal healthcare and improve education by putting less focus on standardized tests.
Hawkins said he has four objectives for his current campaign. He said he hopes his campaign upholds its spot on future voters’ ballots, establishes itself as another major political party in New York, builds itself as an official organization and defines social issues in the state.
This campaign, Hawkins said, aims to retain the Green Party’s spot on the ballot for the next four years by getting at least 50,000 votes, thereby establishing the Green Party as the third major party in New York.
Hawkins also said he hopes to build the Green Party as an organization, not just mobilize for one election.
During his appearance, Hawkins spoke about many of the problems he believes New York faces. One of these problems, Hawkins said, is segregation and income inequality.
“New York state has the highest racial and highest class segregation in the nation,” Hawkins said.
He also spoke in favor of a more progressive tax structure, which he said will raise revenues by 20 percent while cutting taxes for 95 percent of New York residents.
Hawkins criticized the Republican and Democratic parties, especially the incumbent Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has not yet agreed to political debates with Hawkins.
Hawkins said polls from Siena College of the 19th and 21st congressional districts put his support at 12 percent, a number he said allows him to participate in debates against Cuomo and Republican nominee Rob Astorino.
“As the last progressive choice in the race, I deserve to be in the debates,” Hawkins said.
During much of his talk, Hawkins portrayed himself as a progressive alternative to Cuomo. He described Cuomo as “Governor 1 percent,” saying Cuomo’s governance favored corporations and the rich.
Hawkins also reflected on fellow progressive Zephyr Teachout and her showing in the Democratic Party primary, in which she captured 182,024 votes for 34.3 percent of the vote against Cuomo.
Hawkins said he believes he appeals to the same voters who supported Teachout in the Democratic primary, and that he should be allowed to debate Cuomo.
Freshman Nicole Cardascia, said one of the reasons she attended the event was because the lecture fit her college Integrative Core Curriculum theme, power and justice.
She said she also wanted to check out the event because politics has been one of her interests.
Paul Moore, a former mathematics professor at the college, also attended the event and said he intends to vote for Hawkins because he believes Hawkins will always stick to his political belief system.
“He’s the closest thing to honest in terms of the gubernatorial candidates,” Moore said.
Hawkins received just under 60,000 votes during the general election in his 2010 campaign for governor and 1.3 percent of the popular vote, ensuring the Green Party a spot on the ballot for the next four years, according to The New York Times 2010 election results.
Hawkins, who has run for multiple state and local offices in the past, said this year’s campaign is on a much larger scale than his past campaigns.
“At the state level, it is always hard to get attention,” Hawkins said. “This campaign, however, is starting to get the media’s attention.”
Although he said some members of the elite media have not covered his campaign yet, he said they will have to this year due to the scale of the campaign.