Q&A: Libertarian Party candidate for governor lays out how he'd fix New York state

Connor Hoffman/StaffZach McClanahan, left, and Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian Party candidate for New York state governor, met with local voters at Tom’s Diner in Lockport late last week.

LOCKPORT — Larry Sharpe is the Libertarian candidate running in the upcoming gubernatorial election. During a recent stop at Tom’s Diner in Lockport, Sharpe answered some questions about how he would change New York state if elected.

Sharpe said he’s running because he’s a fixer and he’d rather fix the problems in New York than be forced to leave.

He grew up in a Democratic family, and shifted more to the right when he joined the Marine Corps as a teen. But he eventually become a guy who just wanted the other guy to win. Sharpe was ready to not vote in the 2012 election, but became a Libertarian after hearing 2012 candidate Gary Johnson speak.

QUESTION: What do you say to the argument that a third party candidate is a vote splitter?

ANSWER: Let me give you two sides to it. The first is, people say ‘Larry, I can’t vote for you because you’re taking votes away from the Republican, the Republican might win.’ That’s a fantasy. The Republican Party hasn’t won a statewide election in 16 years and it’s not going to do it now. That is a lie they have been telling you for 16 years. You’re going to believe it now? Stop. Locally, the Republicans win all the time and they’re very viable candidates, locally. But they’re not viable at all in a statewide election ... And last time at this point, Astorino had raised three times as much as (Marc Molinaro) has raised. And now he is going to win?

But not just that. This is a different Libertarian party. Libertarian candidates in the past three elections have not raised $10,000, combined. I’ve raised $300,000.

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Q:How long have you been fundraising for?

A: About a year ... Not just that, I’ve made more stops than all three of them combined. This is not your daddy’s Libertarian party. It’s a different Libertarian party. And on top of that, this is actually a five-way race, maybe six.

His majesty King Andrew (Cuomo) will run, Republican sacrificial lamb placeholder will run, Howie Hawkins will run, Stephanie Miner will run and Cynthia Nixon may stay in. So that’s a five- or six-way race. New York is a plurality state — what does that mean? I need more than the rest, not 50 percent. So 30 percent can win this thing. If 30 percent wins this thing, this is the chance to actually win. So the Republican Party cannot win, it is impossible. But I can because I get Democrats. I get Republicans. I get independents. But more importantly, I get the youth. I get people who don’t vote or haven’t voted.

•••

Q: What are some of the most important issues that you are running on in the campaign?

A: There is many of them. The biggest one without question is taxation. I mean the issue is we have 100,000 New Yorkers leaving every single year ... They’re basically cutting us to extinction ... Taxation is such a burden that it is breaking up families. There are people who leave and they lose their families, or they have to come back because the parents are getting old and don’t want to leave. It’s a terrible place to retire. People take their pensions and give them to Florida or North Carolina or South Carolina.

•••

Q: What would you do to fix that?

A: So many things. One of them is trying to raise money through ways other than taxation. If you saw my Joe Rogan interview, I talk about using our infrastructure and leasing out naming rights. You lease naming rights to infrastructure, which means you have a bridge with someone else’s name on it. Verizon, Sprint, 3M, Kellogs, Apple, Pepsi. These are all companies that dropped billions of dollars every year on advertisements and advertisers and marketing. You drop $20 million on a stadium that’s used on weekends. Drop $100 million on a bridge, $50 million on a bridge, sure.

And not just that. They also take care of maintenance, which means now we’re not just paying for maintenance. We have low costs. But not just that, we still own the bridge, so we inspect the bridge. We have a safer bridge. Right now, bridges fall and collapse. But now we have an actual recourse. The bridge goes down from an A to a B or a B to a C, you gotta to fix it. You don’t fix it, you lose the contract. So you have safer bridges, less maintenance, gain extra money without taxation. Here’s the best part, no tolls. Tolls go away. Win, win, win. This idea of changing how we tax, changes everything.

The idea of not having to have federal funds with every single things because with federal funds we have federal strings. Federal strings means administrators. It means more costs ... We can make lots of changes in this case.

•••

Q: What is your general take on the Buffalo Billion story?

A: He is grossly corrupt. It is obvious. We just keep finding other ways to show that he is corrupt. Ever single time we do this it fails. The Buffalo Billions is another failure. They are so many of them. Why do we even talk about them anymore? Here’s the reality. All of the economic development should be eliminated. They are the reason and the root cause of all this corruption. Get rid of them ... The economic development corporations the whole concept is horribly bad. It’s stupid ... That the government knows where everything should go. Wow, that’s dumb ... They should just go away tomorrow.

•••

Q: What would have been your alternative to get WNY going.

A: Treat small farmers like small businesses. Number one. You do that, it will change the entire landscape. Several things. Number one, a lot of these small businesses they get loans like small businesses. They get insurance rates like small businesses. They don’t get hammered with workers comp, which is is hard for small businesses. Take the workers comp rule that is both work- and non-work related, and remove the non-work related part. Disband the insurance board we have in New York state. Not just that, make a rule, if you are a small farm or a small business and you agree to only sell your product or service locally, not across the border, you are immune from all federal regulatory bodies.

Then, legalize hemp and cannabis. So that these guys can actually go out there and create craft growths. Hemp plastic, Hemp cloth, cannabis for medical, cannabis for recreation ... Cannabis and hemp should be regulated like onions. Only exception, is ID card 18 years or older. That’s all.

Next, no more bribing big business to come here.

We do the same thing. We give them $10 million, $20 million, whatever it is in tax breaks or tax write-offs ...They show up, take advantage of our bribes, so that whatever benefit that they give goes away because of the bribes ...They leave. Ghost town.

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