Open Buffalo Speaks out as Member of Fair Elections for New York CoalitionBack >
January 7, 2019
Open Buffalo Executive Director Franchelle Parker delivers remarks at a Fair Elections for New York press conference.
On Monday, January 7, Open Buffalo stood on the steps of Buffalo City Hall with local allies speaking in support of the Fair Elections for New York campaign. This comprehensive election reform platform provides a roadmap for state lawmakers to:
- Increase the power of small donations.
- Limit the influence of big money.
- Make it easier, not harder, to vote.
Open Buffalo Executive Director Franchelle Parker delivered the following remarks at Monday's rally:
"I am the founding Executive Director for Open Buffalo. We were founded in 2014 to help build the power and capacity of the Buffalo community to fight for systemic changes and solutions to economic, racial, and social inequalities.
"I have found it to be close to impossible to do community organizing if the very foundation our work is supposed to be building upon is under attack — our democracy.
"It’s not enough for us to continue to rely on an unresponsive government and hope they see our pain, understand our needs, and hopefully take up our causes. No. The people closest to the problem are closet to the solution. We need to continue to empower our communities, train our communities, and help our communities obtain the resources to run for office themselves.
"In order for us to tackle the crises we face in housing, finding living-wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, and climate, we must create a truly innovative, just and progressive campaign finance system that advantages impacted individuals over developers and corporations. A campaign finance system that and gives our communities a fighting chance.
"We must find a way to limit the influence big money has in our democracy. It should be 'one man, one vote.' Not 'one dollar, one vote.'
"Fair elections would increase the power of small donations. By matching small dollar donations 6-to-1, then, and only then, we can amplify the voices of women, of people of color, of the working and middle classes, and of any and all underrepresented New Yorkers in the political process. As we are seeing across the nation, progressive district attorneys with support are running and winning. While it won’t fix everything, if we can influence who is in the DA’s office, it can ensure we are getting dirty cops that don’t value black, brown, and trans lives off the street, off our payroll, and actually indicted.
"In Buffalo, we are on the brink of massive gentrification if we don’t act now. We must limit the influence developers have in our democracy. We need to make sure people that have actually faced an eviction, dealt with a slumlord, or have known the pain of homelessness have space to help create housing policy in our communities. Fair elections are the only way we get there.
"Lastly, if strengthening our democracy is our goal, we must make it easier, not harder, to vote. Including, but not limited to, automatic voter registration, early voting, same day registration, online voter registration, no excuse absentee voting, new party enrollment deadlines, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, full voting access for people with disabilities, and codifying into law New York’s new policy to extend voting rights to all New Yorkers with past convictions.
"When the people we work to empower — people of color, working class, young people, LGBTQ, the formerly incarcerated — have a fair chance in our political process ... then, and only then, will we have leadership in our city, and state that reflects what real Buffalo is made of."
Read more about this event in this Buffalo News story.