RP:Let's start with the basics. Why are you running?
AG:That's probably the hardest question you're going to ask me.
I'm running for the same reason a lot of people are upset, with what's going on in Albany. I'm just taking it one step further. It's a mess, the folks who represent us down there are doing a lousy job. We get polls that come out and 75% 83% of the people say that Albany is failing us. I agree. I'm a small business man, I have a degree in economics, that puts me two steps ahead of the folks that are down there now. They have no idea what their policies are doing to us. It's time to turn it around.
RP:Has it been difficult not being a politician, getting in to politics?
AG:There are good sides and bad sides to it. The people I meet are very receptive to the idea of having a non-politician represent them in Albany. My wife and I, my son and I, or a myself and a volunteer will go door to door, we do it almost every evening and we meet people. They are happy about it. The downside of course is the media, and the party machine kind of thing isn't meshed with someone they don't know. And so we kind of have to fight that lack of recognition.
RP:You are running against Donna Lupardo?
AG:She is the incumbent. Yes.
RP:What are the problems that you see in her administration, and what will you do differently if you are elected?
AG: The biggest thing that Donna does wrong is, she supports Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the assembly. Every session she votes for Sheldon to continue to run the show. Now anyone who has paid attention to Albany understands that there's three men in a room, one of which we have some say over, the Governor. The other two, the head of the senate, and the head of the assembly, we only get to vote for indirectly through our representative. Mr. Silver has been down there for decades screwing the State of New York up. We can't have representatives from upstate New York go down and support the types of legislation he continues to push through.
It's difficult for most people to realize this. The Brennan Center for Justice did a study, where they twice used the phrase 'dysfunctional' to describe the New York State Legislature.In 2007-2008 for example, that session, every piece of legislation that reached the floor of the New York State Assembly, Passed.That's really wild. Mr. Silver does not let anything get to the floor unless 1. He wants it to be there and 2. he knows it's going to pass. There's no fresh ideas, there's no debate. It's very straight forward, we need to change the leadership on top.
RP:Can you tell me what the role of an Assemblyman is?
You are one of 150 people in the New York State Assembly. You have one vote. And than you have to work with the other assemblymen down there to pass the laws, take care of the budget, to make sure New York is going in the right direction. Obviously New York is not going in the right direction so we need to change the people who are going down there and doing things.
RP:The question on everyone's mind is the employment situation, and the lack of jobs. What would you like to do, or could you do if elected?
AG:We're in a vicious, downward spiral. The Assembly spends too much money, the state spends too much money. They raise taxes to cover the spending. The raising of the taxes drives businesses out of the area, we lose jobs. We lose jobs, it calls for more spending to cover the people who are out of work. We raise taxes again. More people leave, taxpayers leave. We raise property taxes because we put mandates on local municipalities, that drives people out.
It's all going in the wrong direction. So we have to start cutting spending and cutting taxes. Attract businesses to the area. Make the area more livable for the folks who are already here.
What's going to drive jobs is not government spending on these massive programs, you know, we'll spend 5 million dollars on something that produces 5 jobs. If that 5 million dollars is in the hands of local people and they are spending it in business, or they are going to restaurants, or stopping at a store, that will produce many many times the number of jobs that the government handling of it does.
RP:What is your message to the people of New York, what do you want them to know.
AG:Well the message is we have to turn New York around now. It's going the wrong way. I think almost everyone believes it's going the wrong way. If you look at some of the polling data 83% said the New York Government is dysfunctional, the other 17% must be related to Sheldon Silver or work for him, or something. If that many people think we are wrong, how can we continue to send the same folks back to Albany who are going to continue doing the same thing? Unfortunately most people get frustrated and they vote with their feet. So they move to North Carolina, or Pennsylvania, or Delaware or someplace else, to get out from under the burdensome taxes and regulations we've go here.
And regulations is another thing. We talked about taxes for a while. Regulations are almost worse than taxes. In theory, at least, you get a return on your taxes. But, if you put really burdensome regulations on businesses you get nothing in return. All you do is slow them down, they have to spend a lot of money getting up to whatever code it is, filing the necessary tons of paperwork that have to be done, with no return. We're one of the most over regulated states in the Union.
Our friends in Albany tend to do that when they have nothing else to do, they start writing regulations for things.
The Marcellus Shale gas(exploration/drilling) is one of those things that we have to pay close attention to. I think most people want gas exploration to move forward. They see that that is going to produce both money for local people, and for the tax base. They see it's going to produce jobs. However if you listen to Donna Lupardo, and you watch between the lines as she speaks, she talks about having the
most stringent regulations in the nation...on our gas drilling.
You and I know that if you get in your car today and you drive home, it's a dangerous proposition. If we put the most stringent regulations on your driving, you'd be driving home at 6 and a half miles per hour because that's safer than driving 65 miles an hour. What happens if you do that sort of thing is, people stop driving. They will take other transportation, or they will stay home, because you can't get anywhere at 6 and a half miles an hour. That's will happen to the gas drilling. If we over regulate it to the point that companies can't make any money on it, they just won't do it here. There are other places that have gas, and they will go there first, we will be way back at the end of the line and we will be left behind again.
RP:Describe yourself in one sentence.
AG:I'm a small business man, I'm a family man. I have a wife and two children and I've gone over a sentence already.(Laughter) My children are the most important thing in my life, and I just want to make this a better place for them.
For more information on Art Garrisons campaign go to: http://www.artgarrisonforassembly.com/