Ballot Recommendations for the November 7th, 2017 New York City General Election
Jed Holtz
October 28th, 2017

Dear New York City Voters,

We are facing the first “Age of Trump” election in New York City.

You might think that the daily outrages generated since January’s inauguration day would find some response in our upcoming electoral arena, since the looting of the national treasury and presidential belligerence compound and amplify all the problems we have in NYC. To name a few: racist police violence and attacks on immigrants, unlivable wages, homelessness, collapsing infrastructure and healthcare, and an all-out assault on women. However, solutions to these life and death issues won’t appear on the ballot with pro-Big Business parties running the electoral show.

Responsibility for these problems lies at the feet of our local 1 percent — the mega-developers and Wall Street. But the blame rests just as much with the Democratic Party, which does big money’s bidding no matter how much it talks a “for-the- people” line.

NYC’s working class pays a steep price for not having an independent political voice. While a few progressives are running on the Green Party line, the Green Party as an organization doesn’t take on capitalism as a system, and for this reason we can’t support their candidates. Working people need big solutions for the big problems before us.

What type of force can take on our corporate-rigged electoral system? Only a party that harnesses the power of unions and the yet-untapped power of the unorganized U.S. working class. The Freedom Socialist Party believes we need a labor party that is completely independent from the Democrat and Republican parties and names the enemy: capitalism.

The formation of a labor party could play a role in revitalizing the unions, bringing millions of unorganized toilers including undocumented immigrants into labor’s fold, and uniting the left. It could fight for a program that champions the survival needs of the majority, especially people of color, women, and others targeted by the profit system for special oppression and exploitation. It could demand tax hikes on U.S. corporations and the wealthy to fund infrastructure and full employment. It could mobilize workers to use our power on the job to win reforms like these locally and nationally.

No such party is yet organized, but there’s no substitute for the way it could fight both at the voting booth and beyond it. FSP therefore continues to call for a labor party.

What anti-capitalist alternatives do we have in this election? There is one candidate running on an openly socialist platform for mayor as a write-in candidate: Osborne Hart, on the Socialist Workers Party ticket. His program challenges the incumbent capitalist parties, and offers socialist solutions and demands, including that the government fund a jobs program to build housing and schools, stop deportations, grant citizenship to undocumented workers, increase the minimum wage, and defend abortion rights. We extend critical support, as his SWP campaign doesn’t connect enough with local issues affecting workers, or address racism and sexism as extensions of capitalism. And, once again, this is a very lackluster SWP electoral campaign as illustrated by minimal street and internet presence. Still, voting for Hart is a genuine protest against capitalism.

We recommend that you write in OSBORNE HART for Mayor.

For the rest of the ballot’s list of candidates, we recommend you to leave it blank. Refusing to pull the lever is a protest vote. It says, “We won’t vote until we have a true alternative that champions a break with the entire rotten system.”

On the same ballot there are three proposals for which you can vote yes or no:

Proposal 1: Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?

Vote NO

This question by law has to be sent to New York voters every 20 years. The last time the state constitution was amended was in 1938. It passed at a time when the labor movement was strong and on the upswing, and it added protections for workers and social safety net protections including free public education and healthcare rights to the constitution.

While in the abstract, the idea of electing a body to re-write or update the constitution could be seen as an exercise in democracy, the reality is that the deck is stacked in favor of established politicians and well-funded capitalist interests. The union leadership overwhelmingly opposes having a state constitutional convention now, because they know that the right wing has put state workers’ pensions and the right to organize, the public school system, and environmental protections on their hit list.

We have to agree that at this point there is more risk than likely benefit to a major makeover of the constitution. The situation would be very different if we had an independent labor party that was willing to go full tilt in championing our rights against the corporate class and their henchmen. Then we would have a real opportunity to fight for things that really matter: a universal healthcare system in New York; safeguards for workers’ rights and pensions; mechanisms for police accountability such as elected civilian review boards with the power to implement decisions; preservation of public education, in danger of being gutted in favor of private schools; state protection for women’s right to abortion; guarantees for prisoners’ rights; and more.

We are recommending a NO vote, but if the proposal does pass and create a state constitutional convention, it will be critical for organized labor to lead the charge in a campaign to use this as an opportunity to expand our rights and social safety net rather than watch them be destroyed.

Proposal 2: Allowing the Complete or Partial Forfeiture of a Public Officer’s Pension if He or She is Convicted of a Certain Type of Felony.

Vote YES

This amendment would allow judges to reduce or revoke the state pension of an elected or appointed government official who is convicted of a felony related to his or her duties. It was triggered by the huge number of corruption charges brought against state legislators and various officials appointed by the governor or in top city jobs. Currently, their pensions are protected under the state constitution. With this amendment, judges could decide whether a convicted official’s pension should be revoked or reduced, taking into account how their dependents might be harmed.

We recommend voting YES, though it’s only a small step in combating the corruption of Democrats and Republicans. There need to be much stronger mechanisms of transparency and accountability, including the ability for voters to recall elected officials.

Proposal 3: Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes.

Vote YES

Currently, if roads or bridges are on “forever wild” lands and need repairs or improvements, the municipality involved has to get approval from both houses of the legislature during two consecutive sessions, and then it goes to the voters as a constitutional amendment. This process is costly, results in needed repairs being delayed or abandoned, and sometimes alternatives are used which are even worse for the environment.

This amendment would allow towns to use small pieces of protected areas (mostly in the Adirondacks and Catskills) for crucial public projects. The municipalities would be drawing from a “land bank” of 250 additional forest preserve acres to be purchased by the state. Environmental groups collaborated in the development of this proposal and support it.

We recommend “Yes,” to insure the “forever wild” lands remain protected while allowing for safer roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvement.

Your feedback on any of these positions is always welcome. Please reach out at nycfsp@gmail.com or call 212-222-0633. We hope you can join us in the ongoing fight to build working-class power in New York City, specifically in our campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board to bring accountability to police here in NYC.

Jed Holz

Jed Holtz
Organizer
Freedom Socialist Party
New York City