Despite its progressive reputation, New York State has been mired in corruption, scandal, backroom deals, machine politics and dismal voter participation for decades. An entrenched party establishment, especially at the state level, has sent an unmistakable signal to voters: leave politics to the professionals, we’ll make the decisions.

We’re starting to wake up. Longtime incumbents are finally being challenged. Turnout in the 2018 elections nearly doubled from the 2014 midterms (though it was still among the lowest in the country). And we’re starting to see new experiments in electoral reform, from early voting to a robust public matching system in New York City races.

But our electoral process is still terribly antiquated. Big money donors still exert too much influence. It’s still way too hard for working class New Yorkers to run for office. And sometimes it seems like our Governor thinks he’s a King.

Term limits.

  • Assemblyman Joe Lentol has held the same seat since 1973, longer than the majority of our district’s residents have been alive.
  • Incumbents who hold seats for decades discourage young people from getting involved in politics and increase the likelihood of corruption and back-room deal making.
  • We support instituting a cap of three, four-year terms (12 years total) for all members of the Assembly and State Senate.
  • Two terms of four years each (8 years total) should also be the limit for New York State Governor.

Voting reform. 

  • Automatic Voter Registration will simplify how New Yorkers register to vote. It nearly passed in the last session. It needs to be a top priority in 2020. 
  • AVR means that eligible voters are registered to vote by default when they interact with any government agency, unless they opt-out. 
  • We also need to codify voting rights to all New Yorkers with past convictions.

Real campaign finance reform. 

  • The recommendations recently adopted by the Public Campaign Financing Commission are a sham. They do next to nothing to reign in big money influence or make it easier for working class candidates to run for office.
  • We need to increase the power of small donors by matching every $1 raised with $8 in public funding for state races. This will limit the power of wealthy donors and amplify the voices of working New Yorkers.
  • New York’s donation limits are among the highest in the country. They should be capped at $2,500 per election cycle. 

Budget reform.

  • The budget is the most important policy document produced each year. It is a moral blueprint for our state.
  • New York’s constitution gives the Governor nearly unilateral powers over this process, effectively cutting out the democratically-elected legislature from amending the budget. 
  • The legislature must explore constitutional and political remedies to exert greater democratic influence over how the state raises revenue and spends money. 

A people’s office. 

  • I want to make my Assembly office a hub for local organizing and civic participation.
  • We’ll plan frequent, dynamic and relevant public town halls on key issues facing our community.
  • Create a rotating youth advisory council of high school and college-age residents and a community advisory council open to all to discuss, craft and lobby for important legislation.