A coalition that includes former independent candidates for governor in New York on Monday called for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers to back a reform plan that would allow voters to cast ballots in primaries regardless of party affiliation and put term limits in place for the office of governor.
The platform from the group Unite NY has the backing of activists like Howie Hawkins, the fomer Green Party candidate governor, and former libertarian nominee Larry Sharpe.
At the same time, the ethics platform calls for an expansion of ballot access, revise the state's ethics and lobbying commission so it has more independence from elected officials and place a strict ban on lobbyists serving in senior government roles.
Calls for ethics and election law changes have grown in the last week after Hochul took office as governor following the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid a series of increasingly damaging scandals rocking his administration.
“New York prides itself as being a national leader in many ways, but this continuing string of corruption has us leading in one category we’d rather be last," said Martin Babinec, the founder of Unite NY and a former independent candidate for Congress. "Andrew Cuomo’s resignation is another black eye on the state of New York but unfortunately the problem runs so much deeper than just one or two bad leaders."
Third party or independent candidates in New York have long decried the difficulty of getting elected in New York, where ballot laws are considered more restrictive than other states.
"For far too long, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few elected leaders and Party bosses – to the detriment of the interests of the people of the great State of New York," Babinec said. "If we want real change, from the governor’s office on down, we need to enact reforms that allow the voice of the people to be heard. We need to open our political processes and make sure that the voice of the voter is the one driving policy in our great state.”