Howard Leib is running for the 51st state Senate district in New York this Nov. 6th. Leib is an entertainment lawyer and teacher who hopes to unseat 26-year Republican incumbent James Seward. Ithaca Now spoke with Leib about his campaign, how his previous experience could serve him in the New York State Senate and the biggest issues affecting New York and the 51st district.
Leib describes his experience so far in the campaign.
I am an unlikely candidate. I never really expected to be running for New York State Senate. I’m not somebody who woke up every morning going, ‘Wow, I’d like to spend half my year in Albany.’ But two years ago I went to vote and there was nobody running against the incumbent, and I didn’t like that. I believe democracy is best when everybody gets to participate and know election should be a coronation. I threw my hat in the ring, and I’ve been going around the district.
What I find around the district is a lot of different issues that people are interested in, but more than anything else, people want to be listened to. They feel that Albany has stopped listening to ordinary people, and that all Albany hears is the ka-ching of the cash register, special interest show up and make campaign contributions. I have gotten my campaign contributions from ordinary people, and I listen to ordinary people. I am an “ordinary people.”
On his plan for the local economy:
I would use both the economic and the buying power of the state to stimulate new industries in this state. So I say the buying power, I mean, we need to be buying locally. We need to be encouraging businesses that are here. The industries that I would look to first are alternative energy. I don’t believe that fracking is the answer to our energy needs…. We also could be stimulating and helping people create the infrastructure — the factories that will build wind turbines, the factories that will build batteries for alternative energy. Our farmers can benefit hugely from the biofuel industry. There’s a lot of research going on in this area and next to this area in biofuels. We are perfectly situated for things like that. We need to find new industries. We both officially as a State Senate and unofficially as a representative need to be reaching out to people and bringing them here.