New York State of Mind
-by Tracy B Ann
Some people have no sense of place, nowhere that they feel strong ties to, nowhere they can call home. I have a couple. Michigan is where I was born and grew up and it will always be home to me. I live in Tennessee and it’s all right. There are a lot of things that I like about it here. It’s a lot warmer than Michigan, there are nice hills, and, um, it’s warmer than Michigan.
I think I’ve been to most states in the country, except Texas. Sorry, but Texas just freaks me out. I was on a tour bus close to getting there once when I had to stop, get off and fly home. This was before Austin was cool, but really, the place scares the shit out of me. No disrespect intended.
One very special place where I felt at home immediately is New York. Five minutes after I got there the first time, I felt like I had lived there all my life. I might live there too, except it’s very expensive to do so, and, um, it's just as cold as Michigan.
Unlike here in Tennessee though, New Yorkers have choices of Democrats to vote for in their elections. What a luxury. We don’t have that here in Tennessee. Though we do have warm weather, I am often reminded of what my dad used to say about cold, frigid weather, he said "it stimulates brain activity." A quick trip to a mall here will lead anyone to conclude there must be some truth to that.
Democrats to choose from in New York, yep, I like that. In New York’s 24th Congressional District there are a few Dem’s to choose from. There is Colleen Deacon; she spent 6 years working for the Mayor and the city of Syracuse, then moved on to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office for the next 6 years, working as the Regional Director for Central New York.
After Colleen graduated from college she waited tables for less than minimum wage, with no insurance and of course no benefits. She became pregnant, worked up until 2 days before she gave birth and, as a single mom, used Medicaid and the WIC program to survive. As a congresswoman she would certainly know about the programs she was voting on.
Some of the issues she’s wants to focus on are jobs and manufacturing. The district has lost a lot of jobs and there is a threat of the nuclear plant closing. 60% of school funding comes from the nuclear plant. Infrastructure is also big on her agenda. Colleen believes improving infrastructure creates jobs in both the short term and long term by bringing in new business. A modern, well maintained infrastructure is a good selling point for any area.
This district has over 300 bridges that are damaged and need repair. (I’ve always been baffled by why Republicans don’t want to invest in infrastructure. They drive over bridges too don’t they?)
Colleen has experience working with diverse groups of people and believes in getting “more people at the table”, in “bringing all stakeholders together”. She helped connect community colleges with apprenticeship programs this way. Having worked in government she feels she would be effective the moment she walks into the office, she knows the ins and outs of the system and "how to get things done that don't involve floor votes." Colleen has the endorsement of many establishment Democrats.
As a woman, Colleen Deacon is part of the Off the Sidelines Initiative. While women make up over 50% of the population in the US, they make up only 19% of the US Congress. Hmm…
Eric Kingson is another Dem to choose from in the 24th Congressional district. Eric is a Professor of Social Work at Syracuse University, teaching courses in community organization and public policy & advocacy, among other courses.
He is driven by core values that developed from his work in the civil rights movement in his college days, spending summers in the South registering voters. He is a founding co-director of Social Security Works, and co-chairs the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of over 300 national and state organizations. His work is credited with stopping SS cuts and keeping the retirement age from being raised.
Working with these organizations and others has given him lots of experience in public policy. He could make an impact in Congress just by continuing the work he’s already doing. He’s made and continues to make a positive impact.
He is an unambiguous progressive who wants to invest heavily in infrastructure and has a financial plan to do it. A financial transaction tax. Mr. Kingson believes that "giving away the highest tax cuts to those with the highest income has undermined our infrastructure and our society," that "money has been used to capture seats in the Senate and House."
Eric is focused on protecting social security for all, providing college students relief from predatory loans and getting them involved, in fact he sends time in high schools to show students their role in Democracy. He has vowed not to ever take corporate money as he believes campaign finance is undermining democracy, that the golden age of the American dream has been lost due to income inequality.
Eric Kingson is highly respected as an expert and academic of 30 years and as an activist working with Congress. The author of many books and the recipient of awards including the 2010 Martin Luther King, Jr. Unsung Hero Award.
In New York’s 3rd Congressional district, where Steve Israel is retiring, Jonathan Clarke is running. He became an attorney to help people and realized that as a progressive politician he could help even more people. There are several other candidates in this primary but one thing that separates Jonathan is that when he goes to the Grand Jury he sits outside in the hall because he's there representing a client.
He heads the pro bono division of the law firm Clarke & Fellows where he is a managing partner. He represents clients whose homes are being foreclosed on and is an animal advocate, providing free legal work for local animal rights groups.
His major focus is on campaign finance reform, not, as he says "that there aren't more pressing issues; like over reaching drug laws, income inequality and our whole prison system." It's just that Jonathan believes that campaign reform needs to be addressed first in order to fix the other problems.
I love that part. It fits in so well with my "first things first" philosophy, which is why I believe that the way to elect more and better Democrats is to register more voters. That is the thing all 3 of these candidates have in common, they all support 90for90, a voter registration advocacy movement.
As does the New York State Democratic Party Chairwoman Sheila Comar. Her passion is registering voters and she is dismayed by the lack of early voting, weekend voting or a national holiday for voting. She is saddened that we "don't value Election Day."
90for90 is working hard to raise the value of Election Day and honor those who fought so hard to gain the right to vote for all. There are many ways to join this voter registration movement, one is by going to their Facebook page and "liking" them. Show support for voter registration and the NY Democratic who prioritize voting for all.
[Kingson and Clarke have both endorsed Bernie and are on Blue America's Bernie Congress page. You can contribute to their campaigns here.]