I am a physician who has long served the Harlem community. I am also an independent and an advocate for the equal voting rights of all – regardless of their party affiliation.
On so many issues across New York City and State the voices of ordinary people are shut out of the political process. The political parties keep voter turnout low with closed primaries and noncompetitive elections. Mayor Bill de Blasio easily won the closed Democratic Primary in New York City whose voter turnout was 14% at a time of growing poverty, displacement and homelessness in the City which is implementing plans to privatize public housing. Issues of concern to the lives of ordinary people and of the poor which should be at the center of our democracy are pushed to the sidelines.
We the people must open up the political process and bring new meaning to our elections. We must open the primaries to all voters including independent and non-affiliated voters. We need direct democracy to give every voter an equal vote and all people a real voice to make a difference in their communities. The politicians will never reform the closed process that maintains the status quo and their control.
We have the opportunity to begin a process of reform by voting “yes” on the Constitutional Convention. This “yes” vote is the first step to begin a Constitutional Convention process and the election of delegates from across the state. If a majority of voters vote yes on Prop. #1 this November then the next step is for delegates to be elected in November 2018 based on what reforms they want to bring to the State Constitution. Then the elected delegates: three from each State Senate District and 15 statewide, would come together in a Constitutional Convention to propose changes to the state constitution, changes which if passed by a majority of the convention delegates would then be voted up or down by the voters of the state.
A convention of people from across the state to discuss and debate proposed reforms of our highly partisan political system would itself be a positive development. Start the process of reform this November 7th vote yes on Proposition #1 for a Constitutional Convention.
Dr. Jessie Fields