Longtime activist and community organizer Howie Hawkins hopes to become the first Green Party candidate in history to win a partisan office in New York State when he faces Democrat Khalid Bey in the race for 4th District Common Councilor in Syracuse on November 8.
Hawkins polled 41 percent of the vote for the same seat two years ago against Democratic incumbent Tom Seals, who is finishing his fourth term and has been term-limited. Last year he garnered 59,928 votes, or 1.3 percent, as the Green Party’s nominee for governor — enough to qualify the party for automatic ballot status under New York election law.
A lifelong third-party activist and veteran of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s 1972 presidential campaign on the People‘s Party ticket, the 58-year-old Hawkins has made jobs a top priority in his current campaign and advocates the establishment of a Community Hiring Hall to guarantee that a fair share of city-funded employment opportunities go to inner-city residents.
Hawkins, a former Marine who unloads trucks at UPS when he’s not fighting for social justice, also supports the idea of a city-owned Public Power utility and a Municipal Development Bank to foster community-owned businesses. He also favors progressive tax reform that requires the wealthy to pay their fair share.
“Howie Hawkins is the most unwavering progressive I think I’ve met in New York State,” remarked Ralph Nader in 2004.
The Green Party candidate’s Democratic opponent, Khalid Bey, is making his second bid for the seat after losing to Seals in a three-way primary in 2005. A former regional coordinator for the state Senate, Bey is also a longtime community activist and political organizer.