I’ve said this before about feminism, but it’s applicable here, too. It’s never too late to start caring. It’s never too late to start learning. I didn’t know shit about feminism – not really – until I had kids. I just wasn’t a very mature adult; mostly lazy and with a pretty self-focused worldview. But I started to care a bit and then as I learned, I started to care a lot. It became a circle – the more you learn, the more you care. I think that’s what makes people take a step back and say “too big” – it takes a lot of intensity and ugh whyyyyy.
Well I’ll tell you why! Because it actually directly affects you! Same for voting! These people get to make ALL the choices. They don’t care about what their constituents want – they care about getting elected. So we need to vote based on how people have actually acted.
You can Google both who the candidates in your area are, and what they’ve been up to.
For Western New York, there’s a list of local candidates, as well as New York State candidates. Let’s start at the top.
Kirsten Gillibrand – Senator. Gillibrand replaced Hilary Clinton and is the Junior Senator from New York. She’s a democrat, and she’s way on the left. She supports Planned Parenthood and Human Rights. She is fighting the rhetoric against transgendered people, particularly in the military. She’s worked to expose and address sexual assault in the military, and to support 9/11 survivors. These are issues that actually matter to me – women’s rights are my top issue, coupled with equality for all humans. Tied in closely is reducing sexual assault, particularly for our women and men in service to their nation, and to getting continued support for people who have been victimized by terrorism.
House of Representatives
Tracy Mitrano – NY 23rd Congressional District. Mitrano is for a women’s right to choose, as well as ensuring that comprehensive healthcare for women isn’t limited to those who can pay. She also has set the Civil Rights Act in her sights – a lofty goal – to include language to protect LBGTQ people as well. She understands that human rights means all humans. She is deeply pro-net neutrality, which is an incredibly important issue that people don’t pay enough attention to; she has a history with working on internet advocacy groups, too, which lends credibility to her aspirations here. She has promised to take no funding from the NRA, and to listen carefully to responsible gun owners in finding a path forward. Of her goals and ideals, these resonate the most strongly with me, and align closely with what represents my own views.
Andrew Cuomo – Governor. The current governor may or may not be corrupt. He seems to take advantage of his position, but nothing sticks. Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion, but not so for NY State Governor. That said, his perhaps casual approach to the rules is not particularly new or inventive. I feel a little bit shrug about the potential for future scandal because of his actual record. He’s been solidly left, supporting women’s right to choose, legalized gay marriage, prohibited discrimination against LBGTQ people, developed the country’s most comprehensive paid family leave, decreased the wage gap (NY State has the smallest wage gap in the US), and has guaranteed contraceptive access. His approach to drugs is focused on treatment rather than prosecution, and he passed the SAFE act to restrict access to guns.
Letitia James – Attorney General. She has a history of protecting a women’s right to choose. She also fights for women in the workplace, as well as workplace equality. She has worked on equal pay for equal work. She has targeted access to reproductive healthcare – something that not everyone can get. She plans to investigate the NRA’s legitimacy as a charitable organization, and work to close loopholes for gun purchases. Her already-strong history with women’s rights and her stance on gun control make her a serious candidate.
Thomas DiNapoli – State Comptroller. Comptroller is a bizarre word. It’s an accidental combination of the English “controller” and the French “compte” meaning “calculation” – and the job is basically state CFO. Not all states have these! New York State has a massive pension plan, which the comptroller must manage, among other duties. They’re also responsible for auditing state processes, and presumably ensuring we’re not hemorrhaging money. DiNapoli has been the Comptroller since 2007, and has publicly criticized state budgets if they are not sustainable. Having a strong track record with keeping New York State solvent is important to me.
New York Senate. There is no democratic State Senator running for district 57. Currently the state senate has a 32-31 Republican majority, with 12 battlegrounds. Obviously, district 57 is not one of them. The incumbent senator for district 57 has voted against a bill that would prohibit convicted domestic abusers from purchasing firearms. She voted against the DREAM fund, which would have provided tuition assistance to DREAMers. She voted for using public school buildings for religious meetings and worship, and against marriage equality. She voted against suspending fracking in the state, and she voted against allowing unmarried partners to adopt a child. This is not a candidate that reflects my values.
New York State Assembly. Similar to the above, there is only an incumbent Republican running for state assembly district 148, and again, this candidate does not reflect any of my values. He voted against prohibiting convicted domestic abusers from purchasing fire arms. He voted against requiring employers to provide paid family leave (aka, anti-maternity leave). He voted against increasing the minimum wage. This one is confusing so read closely – he voted against prohibiting the state from prohibiting access to abortion services (he thinks he should decide what women can do with their bodies). He voted against prohibiting workplace discrimination based on reproductive health decisions. He voted against prohibiting sexual orientation conversion therapy. He voted against the SAFE act. He voted against prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Basically, this person would rather all New York State residents be like him, rather than actually try to represent our actual diversity – and any diversity he sees, he would rather stamp out. Fortunately, the state assembly has a democratic supermajority.
State Supreme Court
Supreme Court Justice – district 8. It looks like both candidates are incumbent and are looking to fill their own seats.
Cattaraugus County Coroner. Say that three times fast. The coroner is another incumbent, and local funeral home owner. There isn’t much more to say here – there’s no other candidate.
City Wards. My ward isn’t being elected this term.
So there you have it. In an hour, I was able to look up everything that actually matters to me in the upcoming election, and will be able to go to the polls fully informed.
Now get out there and be the Mark Ruffalo you want to see in the world.