I approached the press conference expecting to learn more about the group of people advocating for a constitutional convention and why they believed that this was the best option for New York. I didn’t expect to be so quickly convinced that not only was this the best option for New York, it’s the only option to save our state.
Evan Davis, the former President of the Bar of the City of New York and former chief counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo made the case that our legislature is unable and unwilling to reform itself. With all of the corruption scandals that have happened over the last few years, I was horrified to learn just how bad our system is!
Claire Del Mar Chapman, the president of Forward March NYC, told me that I didn’t have equal rights under the New York State Constitution because I’m a woman. I didn’t believe that it was possible in this day and age that I wasn’t seen as an equal in the eyes of the government simply because of my gender. Not only that, members of the LGBTQ+ community and the disabled also aren’t granted equal rights. Our state Constitution currently only provides equal protection under the laws based on race, creed, or religion, but equal protection is not equal rights. Equal Protection is subject to judicial interpretation and therefore not permanent. We need an expansive Equality for All Amendment to truly have equality for all New Yorkers.
Brandon West, the Vice President of Policy for New Kings Democrats, discussed the serious corruption that plagues our government today. He explained how a constitutional convention would allow us to make our political system, and therefore our government, more accessible and accountable to the people. I hadn’t realized how much this meant to me, I always feel that my local, state and federal representatives have nothing to do with me as if they don’t even care about me or their other constituents. I had no idea that there was a way to fix this!
Bill Samuels, the founder of New York People’s Convention talked about the many shortcomings of our current Constitution. He has spent years studying a policy agenda that could lower property taxes, give local towns greater control over their finances, reduce health care costs, expand education, reduce recidivism, and ultimately save the state $500 million a year.
It was disappointing to hear just how little the New York State Legislature has done to fix any of this. We cannot continue to rely on the same politicians who fail us year-after-year to enact these changes when they have proven year-after-year that they don’t want to. But there is a way to fix all of these problems, and now that the campaign has launched, there is a way for all New Yorkers to take action. The Constitutional Convention is our way to have our voices heard and change NY for the better!