We are 13 years into this column, which often touches on what’s wrong in New York and how we can at least try to make things better in regard to economic and personal freedoms in hopes of keeping our family and friends here.
On this page I’ve never endorsed a candidate. I’m about policy, not politics. But, I am making a temporary suspension of that and endorsing the sharpest person vying for state office in recent memory — the Libertarian Party’s gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe.
Sharpe’s vision, background and personality represent the the cure for what ails our failing state. Throw in the fact that he’s coming from a third party, he’s a dose of something different, something vibrant. As we know too well, the same old same old hasn’t been working.
Eight years into Governor Cuomo’s reign we’ve found ourselves saddled with policies that have driven a stake through the heart of a dying upstate economy. A cornucopia of failed, or soon-to-fail, experiments from massive minimum wage hikes to the possible end of the tipped wage to 12 weeks of universal bereavement leave to call-in pay standards, to name a few, have done nothing but stifle opportunity.
His long-standing foes in the Republican Party are no better. Remember, the Senate was alleged to be in its glory years when Joe Bruno was in charge of it from 1994 to 2008. If it was, how did an alleged fiscally conservative GOP double state spending under his watch, with a Republican in the governor’s office for most of those years?
Sharpe’s proposed policies and way of thinking can help overcome those failings of both parties.
I’m big on local control. The towns and counties should be your most powerful form of government because they are an extension of you — they are closer to you, they know your needs, you can become a part of the solution. I’d much prefer that my town supervisor is the most impactful governmental executive in my life or that my county sheriff the most powerful lawman. But, that isn’t the case.
Sharpe is the lone candidate who wants to return control of the state to the counties, because each county, each region is different. The needs and wants of Niagara County don’t match those of Nassau County.
All of us in upstate complain of how New York City officials define our laws and foist unfunded mandates upon us. Sharpe would let the counties — which means us — decide what laws, social policies and tax policies work for them. Lifting burdens would encourage insurance and health care reform (a must-have with two-thirds of the state’s population on taxpayer-funded healthcare and the other third paying 14 percent above the national average for insurance), property tax reform (more than half of our property and school taxes go to unfunded mandates directly or indirectly), and policing reform (using it for public safety rather than helping pay for unfunded mandates with speeding and parking tickets).
If you’ve been reading this column long enough you know that I value local control when it comes to education as well. I’ve praised teachers and schools boards while damning the Board of Regents, Common Core, the state forcing teaching to a test rather than actual mastery of a subject, and the devaluation of the trades. Our education system is broken; we aren’t fully preparing kids for the real world.
Sharpe would fix that by empowering schools, giving them the freedom to set their educational curriculum and expectations to meet the needs of the people most directly affected by the institution. He also believes in letting teachers teach with styles, methods and outcomes befitting their students, not the state. Sharpe has also proposed a K-10 program that allows two years of variability to explore further education in that system, trade schools, college and the workplace.
An important part of a libertarian mindset is the advancement of personal freedoms, something Sharpe proposes in spades. He would repeal the SAFE Act and pardon those affected by it. He wants to allow means of and protections for use of self-defense. He would reduce funding for law enforcement programs and initiatives focused on continuation of arrest and prosecution for non-violent drug related crimes. He would legalize marijuana. He wants to change the way family courts are run to actually strengthen families.
That’s just a sampling of Sharpe’s platform. I encourage you to Google him and watch or listen to any of his countless television and radio appearances. I want to scream “preach on!” every time I do. He’s engaging, intelligent and creative, someone you want leading New York especially since he genuinely cares about all New Yorkers from the Bronx to Buffalo.
Vote for Larry Sharpe in November. I will because he offers the best hope for New York’s future ... a future that should feature my kids and yours. As governor, Sharpe will find ways to keep them here.
Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at email@example.com .