Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feature Guest Post -- Mike Sutton's Interview with Howie Hawkins

The following is a guest post by Mike Sutton.  Mike has been a candidate for the Onondaga County Legislature's 9th district seat, and also recently contested for the City of Syracuse Republican Party Chair.  He's very active in civic affairs in his Eastwood community, and also finds time to write on a wide variety of topics.  This is a piece based on an interview he conducted with Howie Hawkins.

I recently was granted a interview with the one and only Central New York "Green Warrior", Howie Hawkins. I asked the L.A. native about everything from his 6 years of service in the U.S.M.C., to his run for Governor, to his future campaign plans,and just about everything in between. 

Though most of family are Republicans (especially his Grandmother who is staunchly so), Howie leans to the Left on most issues. He also tries to bring a common sense and practical approach with him, where ever he goes. What impresses me about Howie is not only that he genuinely cares about his fellow citizens, but that he always modifies his message to match the position he is running for. Though many local third party candidates like David Gay seem to struggle with pounding federal issues when they run for city, county, or state office, Howie does not. He easily made the transition from running for U.S. Congress, to City Common Council, to New York State Governor in consecutive years. Each time, his message match the level of government he was running for.

Another thing that attracts people to Mr. Hawkins is the fact that he will not compromise his values or message or "sell out" to get votes. He always seems to stay true to himself as he addresses the issues and presents his solutions. Though Howie does not seem to be a vote thief or a politician, he is very involved in the local political process and pounds his message, while standing up for the rights of the less fortunate.

Being that he is a rank and file member of the Teamsters Labor Union and works the third shift, Hawkins has plenty of time to campaign during the day and has turned politics into his social life, as well as his life's mission. He genuine enjoys meeting people and addressing their concerns.

Before I reveal his opinion on a few celebrities that Howie met along the campaign trail, I will summarize my views on his political past and future.

It is clear to see that he is an anti war protester and activist, even though he was a faithful U.S. Marine for six years. Howie favors a non-military approach to social justice around the world. He believes that protesting, demonstrating and changing legislation is the more effective approach. I do feel that he has had an impact on New York State as a whole and will continue to do so for many years to come!

Here are his answers to a few of my questions. 

Me: What is your opinion of the following people and what comes to mind when you hear their names?
Jimmy"The Rent is too Damn High"McMillan Howie: " Jimmy was quiet,and polite when I met him. I think his passion is real and he feels for the poor in our state. However; he doesn't seem to understand the political process and did not have a viable solution to the problems that face New York. His speech was a distraction from the real issues that Warren Redlich and I actually addressed and proposed solutions for." Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis. Howie: "I knew Al well and spent a lot of time with him when he ran for Governor on theGreen Party Line. He was a great man and cared more about his politics and social justice than he did his acting career. His only drawbacks were that he was very loud and scared the media at times, and went a little overboard once in a while. One time when he was talking about a toxic plant in New York State, he said" I want to take the chemicals in that plant, pour them into a glass and make George Pataki drink them". Our party didn't need that. But overall Al was great! He was a terrific "street speaker" and drew big crowds at his appearances.He was more of a character in real life than he was as Grandpa on The Munsters. Al was passionate and genuine" Carl Paladino - Howie: "Carl was friendly, but didn't remember people. Even though I was running for the same position, Carl introduced himself to me twice at the same event. I do think his anger was real and though he told Fred Dicker what many politicians want to say to Fred, Carl went too far. He didn't have the right temperament to be Governor. I think the loss of his son has had a lasting effect on Carl"

Me: What did you want to accomplish in your campaign for Governor of New York?
Howie: I had three goals: 1. Get the line back for the Green Party in our state, so it will be easier for other "Greens" to run for local offices. 2. Strengthen the Green Party by raising enrollment and awareness. 3. "Expose Andrew Cuomo's real position or lack there of, on important issues like tax reform, hydro-fracking, and the unethical practices on Wall Street." Howie expressed a common sentiment that "Andrew would gloss over many issues, was very vague and would not tell us his true intentions with regards to hydro-fracking in our state."

Howie had stated that Andrew said that he was against unsafe measures to extract natural gas. The problem is, you can make something sound safe before you do it without seeing to it that it does not harm out water and the valuable resources that we have to offer new businesses in New York State. Howie told me that he believes that hydro-fracking should not be allowed in our state because it will provide a temporary "boom" to our economy and leave us with long term problems. "The companies that come here to drill will bring their own crew of workers, rather than hire locals. Therefore when they leave the area again to drill in another state, the benefits will leave too. The problem is that we have great natural resources here that will draw lasting corporations to our area. Why would we jeopardize out resources for a short term fix?"  Mr. Hawkins also told me that he believes that within a year, Andrew Cuomo will be pushing to legalize and will welcome hydro-fracking in New York State.

I also asked Howie what the 2 most frustrating things about running for our Governor were. He told me that the worst part was the fact that the media ignored him and followed Jimmy McMillan everywhere, and often would not take statements from Howie at all. In fact, when most media outlets quoted him they would say "the Green Party Candidate" said... without mentioning his name. He stated that in a forum in harlem the media followed Jimmy everywhere and even a German news outlet would not talk to Howie. "I asked the reporter if he wanted a statement from me since Germany has a Green Party too. The answer was no."  He also said that is was frustrating trying to generate support when the Green party only has a strong core of members in 5 cities in N.Y. "There are too many area's that we are weak in. Now that we have our line back, that should change."

Howie also stated that though he is not a native to Syracuse, he enjoys our University's sports programs especially basketball. "Our kids are fun to watch because now, they play together as a team.


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