Tag Archives: Charles Barron

Freedom Party makes the ballot

2 Sep

By CYRIL JOSH BARKER: Amsterdam News Staff

It’s official. The Freedom Party is now a recognized political party and will appear on the ballot during this fall’s election. After combating an attempted challenge about the signatures collected, the Freedom Party’s focus now is to get votes for the upcoming election.

“We are ecstatic and exhilarated,” said Freedom Party founder and gubernatorial candidate Charles Barron. “We did a top-notch, professional job. Many of the people volunteered because they believe in the Freedom Party.”

The Freedom Party was founded earlier this year in protest against the Democratic Party’s lack of nominating a candidate of color in this year’s state elections. Barron said that Blacks and Latinos have joined all-white parties for years and that the Freedom Party is a Black and Latino-led political party and that anyone is welcome to join. Continue reading


Freedom Party Ballot bound

19 Aug

By NAYABA ARINDE: Amsterdam News Editor

’Twas a glorious celebration on Monday morning at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Anyone would have thought it was Election Night in November, rather than a joyous gathering delighting in the accumulation of 43,000 signatures for the Freedom Party petition to get on the November ballot in New York State.

“No longer are we going to allow the Democrats to take the Black vote for granted, the Republicans to ignore us or the white progressives on the left to use us. We are here to say that the Freedom Party represents dignity, self-respect and self-determination,” declared gubernatorial candidate Charles Barron. “The Freedom Party is for all the people of this state, but we will absolutely be led by Blacks and Latinos.”

According to election law, anyone wanting to establish a new political party in the state must both run for governor and collect 15,000 signatures to get on the ballot, and later garner 50,000 votes at the polls to be officially recognized as a party. Continue reading

Andrew Cuomo attempts to squelch fears about real estate ties, Barron not buying it

11 Aug

By STEPHON JOHNSON: Amsterdam News Staff

When Andrew Cuomo announced his gubernatorial run back in May, he said that he was going to reduce the influence of lobbyists and special interests in the process. He advocated for limits on campaign contributions and complained about big-time real estate and construction companies dominating the political landscape.

But according to information obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics (both organizations track money in political campaigns), the real estate industry has been the largest contributor to the Cuomo campaign. Law firms and security firms are also among his biggest contributors.

Cuomo has raised nearly $27.5 million for this campaign and more than $10 million this year, according to Board of Elections filings. Also, back in June, the New York State Building and Construction Trades Council, a major private sector construction industry group, endorsed Cuomo.

This is not the first time Cuomo has raised big bucks for a campaign. In 2006, he raised $11.5 million for his successful attorney general race and $12.6 million for his failed 2002 race for governor, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

During his failed bid for governor and successful bid for attorney general, Cuomo drew similar proportions of money from the real estate industry, lobbying groups and the health care sector.

Three years ago, Cuomo said that he wouldn’t take more than $10,000 in donations during an election cycle. According to public disclosure reports, Cuomo has received single donations of up to $25,000, $45,000 and $50,000 numerous times.

With the past decade of gentrification and land grabs by development companies in New York City still vivid, critics are questioning whether real estate developers and other special interests will have undue influence on him and his administration. However, Cuomo campaign spokesperson Josh Vlasto says that Cuomo can be trusted to do the right thing and that Cuomo’s contributions from real estate developers won’t affect his ability to prosecute those that violate the law.

“Andrew Cuomo has demonstrated his independence from special interests and others who have contributed to his campaigns,” says Vlasto. “Anyone who thinks they are getting anything other than good government is flat-out wrong.”

But New York City Council Member and gubernatorial challenger Charles Barron sees only trouble down the line for Cuomo because of his close ties to the real estate industry.

“This is the biggest problem with Andrew Cuomo’s campaign,” says Barron, who’s running on the Freedom Party ticket.
“He is the candidate of the realtors, and they are the biggest contributors in New York City to the land grab that occurred under [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg. They prioritize profits over people. That leads to gentrification. That leads to big tax breaks for developers.
“He’s about greed and not about protecting the people,” Barron said. “He will not protect the people from corporations. He is their man and we need a man of the people.”

Cuomo’s camp countered by pointing out the Vantage Properties case, where they had pushed the real estate company to pay more than $1 million in damages to tenants and not-for-profit organizations after an investigation from his office found that Vantage had harassed tenants.

But Barron says that voters should still beware. He pointed out that one of Cuomo’s first decisions after getting the Democratic Party nod was to pick Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy as his running mate.
“Duffy’s a former Republican,” said Barron, “a conservative who believes in balancing the budget on the backs of the poor in order to protect the rich. He’s anti-union. Cuomo has sent a clear signal that he is going to be in the pocket of the rich and vulnerable families will be devastated under a Cuomo administration,” he said.

Surveying New York’s political landscape: The Race for Governor

29 Jul


While most political pundits have been focusing on the federal elections and whether or not the Democrats can retain both the House and the Senate, New York State politics are also heating up.

Statewide, there are battles for the governor’s mansion, attorney general and state comptroller. And the Democrats would like to increase their slim, two-seat majority in the State Senate, and the Republicans want to take back the body they controlled for more than 40 years.

The stakes are high.

Election Day 2010 may shape the next decade-plus of city and state politics for better or worse. The AmNews highlighted some of the more important races and what they mean to our communities in New York City and throughout the state.

The gloves have been thrown in the gubernatorial election between the Democratic and Independent Party candidate, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and the Republican candidate, former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio. Cuomo chose Rochester Mayor and former Police Chief Robert Duffy as his running mate for lieutenant governor, while Lazio has chosen Greg Edwards.

With hopes to follow his father, former Gov. Anthony Cuomo, polls indicate that Cuomo is beating all Republican challengers interested in running for the seat. Waiting until late May to make his announcement to run, Cuomo previously served as secretary of housing and urban development under former President Bill Clinton’s administration. He ran unsuccessfully in 2002 against former State Comptroller Carl McCall.

New York City Councilman Charles Barron also plans to be on the governor’s ballot for the fall under the Freedom Party banner.

New York County Leader Assemblyman Keith Wright said that Democrats are still cleaning up problems in the state after 12 years of Pataki rule and more than 40 years of Republican control of the Senate.

While jobs are at the top of the list for issues, affordable housing is also a top concern for Democrats living in New York County, according to Wright.

“People are not leaving the Democratic Party,” he said. “People are angry at the BP oil spill, no jobs, education and college tuition. When people take out their frustration, they take it out on the people who are in charge.”

As Gov. David Paterson leaves office and ends his tenure as New York State’s first Black governor, Black voters are concerned about their issues being heard in Albany. Quietly, some Black elected officials are voicing their concern about whether a Cuomo administration will in fact be diverse if he is elected.

For many longtime political watchers, despite his rhetoric, Cuomo’s father’s administration was a disappointment to many African-Americans. And there is the issue of the lack of Blacks running for statewide office in the Democratic Party in this year’s election. Wright blames the lack of color on the failure of Blacks to step forward and run, rather than a lack of recruitment by Democratic Party officials. He said, “In order to be a part of something, it’s like the lottery. You have to be in it to win it.”

But Wright believes that Cuomo will do the right thing and make sure that he has a diverse and demographically representative government if he wins. “Andrew Cuomo is bright and has a history and current sense of public service. I have no doubt that his administration will be diverse,” he said.

Malcolm Smith stares into the Democrats’ crystal ball

29 Jul

By STEPHON JOHNSON : Amsterdam News Staff

Two years ago, the New York political landscape for African-American politicians looked better than it had looked in our history. David Paterson was governor of the state, and after more than 40 years of Republican rule, Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith was the majority leader of the Senate. African-Americans finally had two powerful seats at the decision-making table. It was a heady moment in politics for the Black community. But the celebrating would be brief.

Forces in the state would begin the attack against those who were not supposed to hold such power. First, there was the attack on Gov. Paterson that came from so-called friends. Late in 2008, millions were spent in a media campaign by Local 1199 complaining about cuts to hospitals. Then two renegade senators, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, left the Democrats to join the Republicans and only agreed to come back if Smith was stripped of much of his power.

And the attacks continued. The paper of record, The New York Times, set up a tabloid attack on Paterson over allegations against one of his aides, which forced him to end his run for governor. Additionally, there were tabloid attacks against Smith and his minor involvement in the Aqueduct deal that further weakened his standing.

Now the state’s politics are at another crossroad. Following a brief moment of inclusion, the New York State Democratic Party’s presumed candidate is planning to run on an all-white slate. And with the Assembly firmly in the grip of Sheldon Silver, the only potential area for real Black participation lies is in the State Senate. So the question for Black New Yorkers is whether or not the Democratic Party is on the right track for its political interests.

Smith spoke with the AmNews last week from Albany and painted a picture of victory for the State Democratic Party in November. Smith highlighted what he felt were several key races and spoke on the strength of the party Smith mentioned a State Senate race on Long Island between Brian Foley and Lee Zeldin. “I believe Brian will be able to pull it out. That seat helped us take a majority [in the Senate] and it’s an important seat to Republicans,” said Smith. Foley recently acquired the endorsement of the Working Families Party while Zeldin recently earned the endorsement of the Independence Party.

Another race important to the Democratic Party is between Republican State Sen. Frank Padavan and City Councilman Tony Avella (Queens), according to Smith. “Padavan barely won his election in 2008 after a recount by 500 votes. [Avella is] a very good candidate.”

Padavan is one of only three Republicans representing New York City and was lambasted by Democrats recently for introducing a bill that would deny illegal immigrants health care in state hospitals. But despite Smith’s optimism, there has been a lot of talk about dissension between Black state senators from Queens and Brooklyn. The deal that Smith agreed to forced out much of the team that he had put in place when he became Senate majority leader and president when the Democrats first took over the Senate, and he has been in a power sharing situation with Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson. Smith claims that they are working well together and that rumors of inter-caucus divisions have been driven by outsiders trying to divide the party.

With five white Democratic candidates for attorney general, Democratic front-runner Andrew Cuomoís choice of white Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy to run for lieutenant governor, and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli running for his own term after replacing Alan Hevesi, who resigned in disgrace, the lack of potential color choice for state-wide office in more than a decade is quite apparent. Charles Barron has joined the race with the Freedom Party and hopes to address many of our issues, but Smith acknowledges the importance of our voices being an integral part of state politics. “We can’t take the election for granted. That race is critical. The governor drives the agenda,” Smith said.

Smith says that he plans to support Cuomo, but he says with the lack of diversity in statewide races, it will be critical to have real and not just token diversity inside a potential Cuomo administration. “I believe he’ll have a diverse cabinet,” he said. “[But] we can’t sit back and just assume it. I think that’s an issue we have to pay attention to, but I think, knowing him, he’ll address that,” he said.

In addition to addressing issues of diversity, Cuomo and the Democrats will also have to address some daunting issues that are on the minds of all New Yorkers, including jobs, the economy and the state’s struggling budget, which, once again, is late. Smith remains optimistic that a carefully orchestrated budget can be devised.

“There’s noise about our budget not being done on time. A good budget is better than an on-time budget,” he said. “These are people’s live we’re dealing with.” Smith believes that the people want the state to control spending and use money for infrastructure. And while the state needs money, Smith said they can’t afford to tax the people any more than they’re already being taxed. He mentioned the proposed sugar, soda and cigarette taxes as examples of the state pushing people to the limit.

With so many issues surrounding the Democrats, how will they fare on Election Day 2010? Smith thinks they’ll be fine.

“Ideally, the best case scenario is that we have 40 members of the State Senate,” Smith said while chuckling. “The realistic picture is that we believe we’re going to have 35. That’s still enough to move our progressive agenda in housing, education and health care.