One reason our society is so deeply unequal is because corporations and the uber-rich have worked relentlessly to shape the political terrain to their benefit. They have been so successful, in large part, because our electoral system allows them to invest huge sums of money electing sympathetic politicians (on both sides of the aisle), using their money to corrupt elected officials and erecting barriers to stop working-class candidates from competing in expensive elections.
As a former public school teacher and a working-class candidate, I know how hard it is to run against the political establishment. But I’m running for re-election—and refusing corporate donations—because I believe that all New Yorkers deserve to have their votes counted and perspectives represented in Albany. New Yorkers deserve a truly democratic election system where working-class people—not the 1% and their political consultants—dictate our politics.
This year, we won the fight to extend voting rights to parolees and formerly incarcerated individuals (S830B) and amended the law so that electric and gas utility companies cannot charge the cost of legislative lobbying to customers (S1556). We delivered to the governor legislation that would provide wider translation services for census self reporting (S6777A) as well as the landmark ‘John L. Lewis Voting Rights Act’ (S1046E) to establish the strongest state protections of an individual’s right to vote in the nation. But there is still much more to be done.
As State Senator, I will continue to fight for:
- Establish voting rights for incarcerated people. Disenfranchisement of people because they have felony convictions or are incarcerated is an ugly and stark vestige of chattel slavery and Jim Crow in this country. In New York, one obstacle to eliminating this racist denial of full human rights is enshrined in the New York Constitution. Enactment of S3073 would lead to a state-wide referendum to amend the New York Constitution to eliminate these provisions, which would pave the way to full enfranchisement.
- Level the playing field in elections. A few years ago, New York passed legislation to create a transformational public financing system for campaigns that will match qualifying small-dollar donations to state candidates who opt in. However, under current law, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and spouses of candidates are subject to alternate and much higher aggregate contribution limits, effectively allowing family members to donate close to $300,000. This clearly disfavors working-class candidates, who don’t have wealthy relatives to boost their campaigns. Passing S4729A would set lower limits in place in order to level the playing field and move towards the goal of publicly financed elections.
- Expand petitioning laws to be compatible with ranked choice voting. Under current New York State election law, a ballot petition is only allowed to hold a number of candidates equal to the number of offices to be elected, and no more. In other words, an individual is only allowed to sign one ballot petition for one candidate for one open seat, and no more. In 2019, however, New York City overwhelmingly adopted ranked choice voting, a system wherein individuals can express multiple preferences for the candidates for a particular office. More than 70% of voters in New York City voted in favor of ranked choice voting and the ability to prioritize multiple candidates for the offices of mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president, and members of the City Council. S6213A would amend the election law to accommodate ranked choice voting in New York City, enabling New York City voters to support multiple candidates’ petitions for the same elected office.
- Get money out of politics. New York’s political system is out of balance. Too much time and attention is paid to campaign donors with the biggest checkbooks and not enough attention is paid to the average New Yorker. Businesses, no matter what legal form they take, whether it is in the form of a corporation, limited liability company, or a partnership, have outsize influence on elections, and therefore on the legislation and policies advanced by elected officials because of the donations that they are able to make to campaigns. As a result, elected officials are disconnected from the needs of everyday citizens because of the time they spend courting deep pocketed donors including corporations. Banning contributions by these organizations (S4070) will limit their influence on New York’s politics. With corporate money out of politics, New Yorkers may begin to regain faith that their government is working in their best interest and not in the interest of large campaign contributors.
No real estate money. No corporate donors. Jabari's campaign is sustained by grassroots donors like you.
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