There are many issues facing our communities across the 125th Assembly District. Please review the League of Women Voters' Guide for this race to compare my priorities to those of the other candidates.: http://onyourballot.vote411.org/race-detail.do?id=21388667
As we have seen with this pandemic, health care is an essential human need and a human right. We have the opportunity here in New York to make sure that we cover everyone, and we can do it at a lower cost for all New Yorkers. Passing the New York Health Act would also allow everyone the personal freedom to pursue their interests and passions. Being locked into a job simply out of fear to keep some semblance of high cost health care is not freedom and it is easily lost, as so many Americans have seen in the past few months.
Let me start by acknowledging that I do not know personally what it is like to be black in America. I know that my white skin and privilege means that I do not have the personal experience to know that experience. So without that what I can do to fight for racial justice and change?
I believe this needs to start with listening. Too often I see people jump in believing they have the answers or the voice to shout the loudest. But I know I need to listen, to ask questions, to educate myself, to engage, and then to help lead others. I also know what is right and wrong and believe in the message that Black Lives Matter. From my listening, I have started to put together policy changes we can accomplish in New York to make real change. This is not an exhaustive list and more will be added as I listen more and am further educated.
Our education system works when it is fully and fairly funded, and when our teachers are treated like the professionals they are. Our children learn so much more than facts in school - they learn to be part of a community. Our schools are so much more than buildings - they are the center of our communities. Governor Cuomo - fund our schools like they must be and watch our children flourish. We don't need another experiment.
Broadband Coverage for All is Key to Our Future and Must Be a Public Utility Available to All.
We must expand of broadband and cellular service across our communities. This pandemic has put into high relief for us all, that we have a deep digital divide in New York and in our country. Expanding this critical utility would provide: increased access to higher paying jobs, remote working, delivery of tele-medicine, new entrepreneurship opportunities, expanding education for our children, and so much more. But cannot achieve this through a patchwork network of small pockets of coverage. We must push ahead and reframe our view of broadband access not as a nice-to-have but as the public utility it should be. The Rural Electrification Act provides a tremendously successful template for action.
I completely support Planned Parenthood and other organizations, believe in reproductive rights for all people, support universal age-appropriate mandatory sex education, and affirm that healthcare is a universal right best determine between a patient and doctor.
I have been asked to complete a number of surveys of my views from groups who support these same beliefs and from some who do not. I want to provide clarity in to my views on many aspects of reproductive rights and so have decided to provide my answers to the Planned Parenthood survey.
The legalization of adult-use cannabis in New York is overdue. We have an opportunity to be able to correct a number of past mistakes, invest in our communities impacted by the war on drugs, and to provide our farmers with another way forward with their businesses. We must finally act, as many of our sister states have, to finally legalize adult-use cannabis.
First of all, we need to stop the classification of cannabis as a drug and overturn the years of warring against communities on this substance. We need to legalize adult-use and expunge the records of those caught up on drug offenses simply for the possession of small amounts of cannabis. We need to correct our past wrong. Second, we need to use part of the revenues collected by the state on the sale of cannabis to invest in those communities which have taken the brunt of the war on drugs. We need to help lift them up. We also need to ensure these funds go back to the communities collecting the sales tax in a fair manner. Third, we need to guarantee that our local small farmers are the ones granted the licenses to grow cannabis. We cannot allow large international agribusiness to steal our opportunity from our farmers. We have a chance with this program to right many wrongs and the help grow our economic recovery.
I fully support and accept the science of vaccinations and believe we will continue to need and develop new vaccinations because of emerging diseases caused by new contacts, species jumping, climate change and permafrost melting. As this pandemic has reminded many of us, we are all in this together and providing a healthy environment for all our citizens is absolutely critical, and this clearly must begin with our children. In addition, I support the science, the data, and the public health policy behind this approach which has been developed and scientifically refined over decades.
In my time on the Cortland County Legislature, I have worked with Access to Independence on moving forward the county wide housing survey. I advocated in favor of paying fair wages to individuals with disabilities instead of lower than minimum wage, and I helped get two mobility scooter charging stations installed in the County Office Building in my role as Chair of Buildings and Grounds. I am currently working to make sure the entire County Office Building is handicap accessible (even after all these years there are hallways which are not accessible).
I am thankful that our campaign has been awarded the 2020 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction for my long-standing commitment to gun violence prevention.
I am proud of my record of advocating and voting for common sense gun violence prevention actions. I am one of the few candidates in this race who has directly confronted the scheming of the Gun Lobby and who has voted consistently against their attempts to roll back gun violence prevention laws. I vow to continue this proven, principled and progressive record on common sense gun safety if elected to the New York Assembly.
League of Women Voters asked, NYS recently enacted many election law reforms, but same day registration and no-excuse absentee balloting must be passed again by the legislature. Would you support these proposals and are there other election reforms that you support?
Yes, I support both same day registration and no-excuse absentee balloting. In addition, I believe we need to make our Election Day in November a national holiday to allow everyone the ability to vote and encourage participation.
But more likely to get passed are the following changes to our New York state voting laws:
Allow no-excuse absentee voting for everyone. I support anyone being able to vote absentee for any reason. But this is a short-term solution.
Longer-term, we need to allow vote by mail for all elections, like we have seen other states do very successfully. Anyone should be able to take the time they need or want to fully research the issues from home and cast their ballot by mail. Vote by mail must also include pre-paid postage for all ballots. It should not cost anything to vote.
We should look to lower the voting age in New York to 16 years old. Young people of the age to qualify for a driver’s license should be allowed to vote and have a voice in our future.
Time and again, we have heard from voters about the lack of transparency and public involvement in the important decisions affecting us all. To remedy this problem, I support the following measures for legislative action: Open Government, Listen to the Public, Let the Public Speak, Increase Participation
In addition, the League of Women Voters asked, Would you support efforts to replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and Legislative Ethics Commission with a new independent and effective agency? Please explain your response.
Yes, I support the efforts of the League of Women Voters of the State of New York and the New York City Bar Association, among others, to replace the JCOPE and LEC with the Commission on State Government Integrity. For too long New York has suffered from corruption or the appearance of corruption because the systems in place to investigate and act on this have been intertwined with the people they are meant to oversee. We need a completely independent body with full disciplinary authority over the Legislature. We need to protect whistleblowers who report misconduct. We need a commission where the majority vote determines the outcome. We need to provide more oversight to our campaign finance system. For all these reasons and more, we need to pass the constitutional amendment to create the Commission on State Government Integrity and give it the oversight, authority and independence we need in this critical watchdog group.
I have successfully fought to protect the First Amendment rights of the residents of the City of Cortland. The City zoning code only allowed 2 political signs to be shown at any one time which severely limits our Free Speech. During the Fall 2020 political season, many city residents (myself included) received code violation notices about too many political signs. With the support of members of the City Common Council, these violations were tossed aside and no new violations would be written, and the City pledged to revise the zoning code in early 2021 to remove the limitation language altogether. I appreciate their support in protecting our free speech.
I support the state plan allowing Underdocumented individuals the chance to earn a driver's license. Individuals who apply will still need to provide documentation from their home country and still need to meet all the same requirements for being awarded a drivers license such as testing, insurance, etc. This measure will simply recognize the reality of life in New York that underdocumented individuals drive on our roads and through that recognition help to ensure greater safety for everyone. This measure is NOT a path to citizenship, it is NOT a path to voting rights, it is NOT a path to state or federal benefits.