Who am I?
My name is Howard Leib and I am running for the New York State Senate from the 51st Senatorial District. I am writing to introduce myself and to ask for your support.
I am taking on Jim Seward, a 26 year incumbent. Many have told me this is an impossible race. I do not agree. I know this is not going to be an easy fight, but I do not think it is impossible.
I believe both my story and my background have much to offer. I am a lawyer, but I am an entertainment lawyer, not a corporate lawyer. I specialize in childrens entertainment, so my law background is wholesome. I have fought for years to protect the vote of all voters, not just those of my party. I am also an educator. I teach college and graduate students, as well as students looking for a career as a paralegal. I have taught in the classroom for schools such as New York University and online for Kaplan University and National Paralegal College. I have assisted hundreds of students to achieve their dreams, helping them get into law school by showing them how to score higher on the LSATs.
I am a union member (UAW), the child of teachers, the grandson of immigrants and shopkeepers, and the great grandson of farmers. My wife is native to this area, as are my in laws. My father in law is a renowned hunter and outdoors man. My wife owns her own massage studio and creates jobs for others. I have been a manager for a test prep company, responsible for hiring others. I have lost a job due to downsizing, and know what it means to worry about health insurance and paying the bills. I feel I can relate to the problems of our fellow voters better than someone who has worked for the government all his life as part of a dysfunctional legislature.
As I said, this will not be an easy race. Seward has money on his side, fueled by major insurance companies who accounted for almost 45% of all categorized contributions to his last campaign (he is chair of the Insurance Committee). So far this election cycle, Seward has raised over $165,000, nearly half of it from the insurance industry and nearly a quarter of it from Albany addresses.
Why am I running?
To find myself running for office is a surprise. I have never been someone who desired to spend half a year in Albany, working in a dysfunctional legislature. I am running because my district deserves better representation than it gets, and because no one else is willing to take on a well funded, 26 year incumbent.
Two years ago, when I went to vote, I saw there was noone running against the incumbent in my State Senate District. This offended me. I am a big D Democrat, but I am also a small d democrat. I believe no election should be a coronation. There should always be a choice. I said at the time that there had to be a candidate in the next election, even if that candidate was me. Two years later, it is going to be me.
One of the problems with challenging the incumbent is the nature of the district. The 51st Senatorial is a poster child for gerrymandering. The district, 3.5 hours from end to end, encompassing parts of 9 counties, was hand drawn by the incumbent specifically to ensure his reelection. Prior to redistricting, the district had been described asAbe Lincoln riding a vacuum cleaner. Since redistricting it has been referred to as George Washington projectile vomiting. I actively worked to change the embarrassment that is New York State redistricting. I sued the governor of my own party, as well as the legislative leadership in the federal court action that resulted in fair and impartial Congressional districts. We were, however, thwarted s to the state legislative districts through a middle of the night, backroom deal.
I believe that the residents of NY 51 deserve better than a career politician funded by special interests who actively avoids leading. Whether people agree or disagree with me, they will know where I stand and I will actively work to further important issues. We have had 26 years of go along to get along. 26 is enough.
1. Single payer health insurance. If Vermont can do it, there is no reason New York should not. It will never happen,however,with my opponent, who receives up to half his campaign funds from the insurance industry, chairing the insurance committee.
2. Adoption of Medical Marijuana - In my largely agricultural district, this is a jobs bill. This would provide jobs for farmers, a revenue source for the state, and much needed relief for millions of people suffering from a variety of ailments. It is a win win win proposition. As a voter said to me, we have never needed price supports for marijuana. My opponent's position is that he would be for it if Washington was for it. That is not leadership, it is just another example of refusing to take a stand and stand up for the needs of the district.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
My campaign could not be more grassroots. I have no consultants, no paid staff. We will win or lose based on whether we catch fire with grassroots citizens in a district hand drawn to re-elect the incumbent.
My website is being designed locally by a very creative Ithaca street level entrepreneur. The State party has already stated it cannot fund this campaign. My petitions will be carried by ordinary people, local activists. I write and send out my own press releases. In short, this campaign is not just grassroots, it is "My dad's got a barn, let's put on a show." We are operating on a shoe string in the hopes that people will see the justice and importance of our message. IF that happens, and the grassroots finds us and supports us, we can win. If not, it will be at least two more years of the same "go along to get along" political insider representation this area has suffered from for over a quarter century.