ITHACA, N.Y. — In a visit to Ithaca this weekend, Libertarian candidate for governor Larry Sharpe charted plans which he believes will revitalize New York, emphasizing interests in New York’s business environment, education system and healthcare system.

Sharpe and his running mate Andrew Hollister spoke at an event hosted by Cornell Libertarians on Sunday at Cornell University, which was attended by nearly 60 people.

Hollister, a Rochester resident, was first to take the floor Sunday. He began by asking the crowd if they or someone they know has considered leaving the state of New York in recent years. A room full of hands shot-up.

Hollister said the Empire state ranks low when it comes doing business and for K-12 public school systems. He said he and his wife had considered relocating in reaction to these rankings as they readied to have a family. Ultimately, Hollister said “New York State is home and worth fighting for,” and said he feels it is his responsibility to himself and his fellow New Yorkers to incite change.

Hollister introduced Sharpe, who began by addressing voters’ attitudes that third-party candidates cannot win. In reaction, Sharpe told the audience that the 2016 election is proof that “the can’t wins” keep winning.

“I focus on happiness,” Sharpe said, specifying his mission as governor would be to pass policies that keep New Yorkers building their families, careers and lives in the state of New York.

“Because our country was built on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You should pursue happiness in any way that makes you happy. I focus on your happiness so you’ll stay in New York,” Sharpe said.

He pitched a plan that he believes would accomplish this.

First, Sharpe said he plans to decentralize the state, stating the crux of the state’s issues includes the way in which policy largely intended for residents of New York City and larger municipalities govern the entire state. “Manhattan is not the Southern Tier,” Sharpe said. “We don’t want one city or county running the rest of the state.” 

Sharpe stressed what he believes to be a need to localize and shift power away from the governor and balance it across New York’s counties and localities. The result, according to Sharpe, will be a state of New Yorkers who support and care about their local environments.

Second, Sharpe promised to never raise taxes, saying he has other strategies for securing the funds needed to invigorate government services and programs.

About 60 people attended a town hall at Cornell on Sunday featuring Larry Sharpe (Mitchell Wajda/The Ithaca Voice).

Sharpe outlined a number of the issues he said he would tackle as governor.

Sharpe said he plans to legalize marijuana and decriminalize the possession of marijuana. He foresees the legalization of marijuana to provide safer options for New Yorkers suffering from chronic pain. According to Sharpe, under the current health care system, patients suffering from chronic pain are prescribed opiate medications that frequently serve as a gateway to opioid abuse and addiction. He said patients would be less likely to abuse opioids if marijuana prescriptions were available. 

“No one should go to jail for having a plant in their pocket,” Sharpe said.

Additionally, Sharpe said New York needs prison reform, including more effective reentry programs.

He also said he would reform education, including ending mandatory education at 10th grade. Post-10th grade, Sharpe proposed a system in which students could choose between spending the next two years in college preparatory courses, trade schools or going straight to college.

The crowd’s questions shifted to that of public safety, asking Sharpe what his strategies are to protect New Yorkers from mass shootings, to which he replied, “SAFE Act has to go.”

Sharpe asserts that repealing SAFE Act by 2020 and eradicating Red Flag laws will pave the way for a safer New York. SAFE Act was passed in reaction to the Sandy Hook elementary school mass shooting and serves as gun control legislation that prohibits a number of firearms in New York state. Reg Flag laws grant public school teachers and administrators the legal right to seek intervention from the court system should they identify a student who presents a violent threat to themself or others.   

Sharpe closed his presentation by claiming he is the only candidate with a distinct plan as to how to improve the quality of life in New York state, stating that the other gubernatorial candidates fail to offer a clear proposal as to how they will incite state-wide change.

Sharpe is running against incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat; Marc Molinaro, Republican; Howie Hawkins, Green and Stephanie Miner, Serve America Movement. For more information on Larry Sharpe and his campaign for governor, visit his website.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Sharpe campaign website. 

Mitchell Wajda

Mitchell Wajda is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice and a senior at Ithaca College where he studies screenwriting. Mitchell can be reached via email at wajda.mitchell@gmail.com.