Living on the South Side of Syracuse since 1991, Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for New York governor, has a strong connection and affinity for the South Side neighborhood.
Hawkins is a board member of the Southside Community Coalition, where one of his key goals is to develop a community-based food cooperative to help supplement the lack of grocery stores in the neighborhood. His campaign for governor is also run out of the local Green Party office, 2617 S. Salina St., who nominated him to run for governor of New York.
Here, Hawkins, discusses his campaign platforms and how it relates and affects residents of the South Side.
The Stand: What general issues do you see in the South Side and how do your campaign platforms address these issues?
Howie Hawkins: We have high rates of unemployment, poverty and school dropouts. We have low rates of home and business ownership. It’s a mostly black community and opportunities are constrained by racial discrimination in housing, jobs, education and government resources.
My platform calls for public jobs in public works and services to guarantee every worker the right to a job at a living wage. Private jobs are good, but public jobs are necessary for full employment.
My platform calls for fully funded public schools. The strongest predictor of poor school performance and high dropout rates is poverty. Instead of scapegoating public schools and teachers, who are dealing with what poverty brings in from the streets, we should focus on eradicating poverty. That means full employment at living wages and public assistance for those who are unable to work due to age, disability, or providing care for family members who are children, elders, sick or disabled.
My platform also calls for a state-owned bank to provide credit and technical assistance for community-owned businesses, particularly worker and consumer cooperatives, as well as mortgages and other consumer loans. Private banks mostly attach debt to existing assets as collateral. They don’t do much lending to create new assets in new or expanding businesses. We need a public bank dedicated to that purpose.
TS: Can you explain your Green New Deal proposal and how it might work on the local level?
HH: We want to recover the New Deal’s commitment to a decent income for the poor, unemployed, disabled and elderly, and its commitment to public spending to increase demand when the economy is depressed.
We want to revive two reforms: full employment and universal health care. And we want to “green” the New Deal by adding ecology and economic democracy. Ecology means public investment in a green industrial policy for a sustainable economic recovery based on renewable energy, mass transit, green buildings, organic agriculture and clean manufacturing. Economic democracy means cooperatives and democratic public enterprises, such as public banks, public power utilities, a public health service, a public jobs program, where the community elects local boards to run local branches of public enterprises and agencies, which in turn elect state boards to govern the state level.
That’s where the South Side fits in and how it would work at the local level. Unlike today where most boards are appointed from the top down, the community will have the right to elect its own members to the boards of the public enterprises and agencies that affect their lives.
TS: Why should the South Side residents vote for you for New York Governor?
HH: It’s a vote for living wage jobs for all, universal health care, fully funded schools, and a sustainable green economic recovery.
For more information on Howie Hawkins and his campaign for governor, visit howiehawkins.com