By Nayaba Arinde, Amsterdam News Editor
The morning after the night before Freedom Party supporters hit the ground running.
“Oh we got the win!” beamed Councilman Charles Barron, who up until Tuesday night had been the Freedom Party gubernatorial candidate. “We are having a press conference on Thursday to announce our founding convention on February 22 and 23rd; when we are going to hammer out our platform, our issues, develop our strategy for our political empowerment, and build our membership. The Freedom Party is here to stay. We are on the move.”While they did not get the mandatory 50,000 votes to become a state-recognized party on Election Day; the impact of this little-grassroots engine that could had had the lead candidates, Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino, swerving to avoid strategically placed political roadblocks and community-issue barricades. The Democrat and the Tea Party-backed Republican had to reverse, re-route and include new destinations in their campaign detours when Barron and his hardy team of supporters, petition signers and potential voters started raising the issues of health disparities, the deficit reduction plan of taxing the rich, the miseducation of the state’s children, and state-wide institutionalized racism.
“Look at what we achieved in just four months,” said Barron. “The Freedom Party is an idea whose time has come.”
With one percent of vote, in a field of seven gubernatorial candidates including Cuomo and Paladino, Barron got 20,718 votes.
Four months ago a couple of hundred people met at Siloam Presbyterian Church in Bed Stuy Brooklyn. There in the sweltering basement, a seed was germinated, democracy took hold and the Freedom Party was born. The crowd, infused with the notion, marched in an impromptu rally down Jefferson Avenue and declared December 12th Movement’s Sista’s Place their HQ.
The rest is New York State politic-altering history.
Gracious and grateful was Barron’s mood as he stood before supporters at Sista’s Place as results came in. “We have to be very, very proud of all of us who worked hard to get to this moment. This was a grassroots effort with little money, but rich in the resource of commitment and vision. Fifty percent of New Yorkers just don’t come out to vote. Even those with a $20 million campaign can’t bring them out, so we with no money and few resources did really, really well. We got 43,000 petitions and 20,718 votes state wide. Four months ago, we were just an idea, then just last month we are there at Hofstraofstra winning the gubernatorial debate, and bringing our issues to the forefront.”
In an election bestrewn with larger-than-life characters, caricatures of an already disturbing stereotype, and those wishing to merely re-invent themselves, Tuesday’s General Election was big on distractions and headlining soundbites, which turned some people off, brought others out (protesting the fallacy of the process), and enabled some serious topics and possibilities to get lost in the biased media shuffle.
Freedom Party co-chair Jitu Weusi thanked “All those who believed… Thanks to the more than 20,000 who voted for the Freedom Party. We are serious and strong and realize ‘Rome was not built in a day.’ We urge you to stay involved and build with us collectively and before long, ‘We Shall Win.’”
Effervescent is the mood of the Brooklyn councilman who went about his district thanking the voters and answering the big question on everyone’s mind, “What’s next?”
“I am so ecstatic and exhilarated,” Barron told the paper. “A movement has been launched with over 20,000 people saying that they want the Freedom Party to exist. Now we have to put Cuomo in check because this state is in dire trouble with his election. All the unions and Black leaders who are surrounding and supporting him must bear the responsibility of holding him accountable and protecting our community from his vicious Draconian budget-cutting hatchet that is coming down the pike.
“Andrew Cuomo is a political coward when it comes to taxing the rich but a political bully when it comes to balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and the unions.”
However, “There were a lot of irregularities on Election Day, and our office was flooded with complaints,” said Colette Pean, working at the Freedom Party headquarters. “We were told of numerous attempts to discourage people from trying to vote. It was very frustrating, but we told voters that they should not let these efforts stop them from trying to exercise influence where they live.”
Barron agreed, “Our people could not find our name, and Democratic Party inspectors told our people that they could only vote straight down the line, and some machines didn’t work. But in spite all of that we prevailed and we were winners. I am proud that we stayed the course. We are here to stay and to build. I’m very exhilarated and excited about what we are building. I especially want to thank my colleagues: educator/historian Eva Doyle, our candidate for Lt. Governor and attorney and former judge Ramon Jimenez, our Attorney General candidate. We are very grateful and very fortunate to have Eva and Ramone with us, and our Latino brothers and sisters, to have made our election day a victorious one. We made history. Let’s keep building. Forward ever, backward never.”