Name: Jason Salmon
Office Sought: New York State Senate District 25
Party Affiliation(s): Democrat
Education: Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford
Occupation/Employer: Community Organizer
Previous Offices, Campaigns and Community/Civic Involvement:
I am a life-long resident of the 25th District, which I seek to represent in the NYS Senate. I am a progressive Democrat whose family history in the district dates back 70 years. My ancestors, Black, White, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, immigrated to the U.S., as have so many, in search of economic opportunities and for some to escape religious and political persecution. I am acutely aware of the sacrifices both my distant and near ancestors made to reach the United States and I am dedicated to ensuring this country remains a haven for those in need.
From an early age I was inspired by music, I am a classically trained violinist and after graduating college I turned my love for music into a career becoming the owner of a recording studio. I worked with many talented, Brooklyn-based artists. However, in the summer of 2014, my life changed dramatically. While we all watched the death of Eric Garner with anger and frustration, one of my childhood friends was killed by the police. He was a gentle and kind human being who joined the Air Force after high school. He served for eight years, only to return home to lose his life at the hands of the police.
These tragedies drove me to become a community organizer and activist. I volunteered for Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), serving as their liaison to Communities United for Police Reform. As an activist and community organizer I assisted to organize support for legislation that strengthened transparency and accountability for law enforcement including the Right to Know Act and the Police STAT Act. I am also a co-founder of JFREJ’s “Jews of Color” caucus.
I went on to work for Senator Velmanette Montgomery (25thDistrict) as a Community Liaison where for nearly three years I was on the front lines serving the communities of the 25th District. From fighting for affordable housing, to criminal justice reforms, to forming partnerships between city and state agencies and the community, I helped craft practical solutions to the district’s everyday problems.
I have been on the front lines fighting for affordable housing and tenant rights and have been a vocal opponent of socially irresponsible developments that put profits over our community. I have organized tenants to demand repairs to their apartments, written legislation that promotes civics education in our schools, and have fielded thousands of constituents cases across the 25th Senate District.
Today, I am running on a platform centered around ending mass incarceration, addressing the affordable housing crisis, fighting for equity in our education system and ending the rampant social and economic chasm plaguing our society. My professional experience as both a community organizer and staffer for Senator Montgomery has provided me with a dual lens and experience- understanding the community I seek to represent along with the knowledge how bills get passed in Albany. Both provide me with the foundation to be an effective legislator and advocate for everyday New Yorkers in Albany.
Please state whether you support or oppose the following reform measures. If you wish to elaborate on your answers, you may do so in the provided space at the bottom of this page.
- Replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the Legislative Ethics Commission with an effective and independent enforcement body (S594A/A1282A).
- Limit outside compensation earned by state legislators and statewide officials to 25% of their salaries and eliminate stipends.
Elections and Voting
- Do you support or oppose the following changes to the state’s current registration and voting system?
- No-excuse absentee voting (second passage of constitutional amendment)
- Election Day voter registration (second passage of constitutional amendment)
- Re-enfranchisement of people on parole automatically through legislation, without requiring a Certificate of Good Conduct or Relief
- Automatic voter registration, unless the potential voter opts out
- Mandating poll sites on college campuses
- No-excuse absentee voting (second passage of constitutional amendment)
- Reform the special election process, utilizing a nonpartisan special election for state legislative seats and eliminate delays in filling vacancies.
- Reduce the vote threshold to become a registered party back to 50,000 votes and keep the gubernatorial election as the qualifying election, and reduce the petition requirement for independent candidates back to 15,000 signatures.
- Amend the state’s public campaign financing system, approved in the 2021 budget, by
- Drastically reduce campaign contribution limits
- Set even lower contribution limits for registered lobbyists and those who do business with the state
- Move the campaign finance matching program to be administered by an independent, nonpartisan body outside of the NY Board of Election
- Simplify the matching system by making both in- and out-of-district donations eligible and by eliminating the three different tiers for matching
- Drastically reduce campaign contribution limits
- Require full disclosure of grants and contracts issued by the state, including the budget lines from which the spending is made and reporting on the results of each grant or contract over a certain amount.
- Provide for effective online disclosure and itemization of spending from elected officials’ lump sum appropriations, including reporting on potential conflicts of interest and how the funds are spent.
- Repeal Civil Rights Law, Sec. 50-a, which shields from public view the disciplinary records of police officers, correction officers, and firefighters.
- Restructure the state Board of Elections to abolish the strict two-party division of governance and operation and put in place professional, nonpartisan administration.
- Empower the attorney general to investigate and prosecute election law malfeasance and cases of public corruption.
- Make mayoral control of city schools permanent, with a governance system that provides for accountability, transparency, parent engagement, and democratic participation.
- Simplify and consolidate New York State’s court system by passing the Chief Judge’s proposed constitutional amendment to modernize the courts.
If needed, you may elaborate below on your positions on the previous questions. You may also provide additional information on any actions that you have taken or plan to take to advance your positions on these issues.
Criminal Justice Reform: A cornerstone of my platform is tackling mass incarceration in the State of New York. To do this we need police accountability and criminal justice reform, to legalize the adult use of cannabis, as well as create a system that inv
RESPONDING TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK
Government under the COVID-19 outbreak
- Adopt technological solutions and provisions that will allow the New York State legislature to convene and vote remotely if needed.
- Provide public access to observe and participate in government proceedings, in meetings that would be public under the New York Open Meetings Law, via live and recorded video available on government Website:
- Implement immediate programs to facilitate absentee voting for all New York voters as long as the widespread contagion risk of COVID-19 continues, under current state constitutional limitations. This includes electronic submission of absentee ballot applications without a wet signature and a public information campaign.
- What are your concerns regarding the use of emergency powers during this crisis, and how do you think NY government can maintain public accountability standards at this time?
I think the New York Civil Liberties Union said it best when comparing Governor’s new emergency powers passed in early March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to the Patriot act passed after 9/11. The NYCLU stated: “We should not repeat the mistakes of 20 years ago. While the legislature should move expeditiously to fund and support the necessary public health response, nothing requires them to expand executive power without adequate consideration for the need or the potential consequences. ”
The governor already had broad emergency powers, the expansion of these powers is unnecessary, suspending many good government requirements such as: the anti-bribery statute, the state’s revolving door ban and the suspension of the law mandating child care providers undergo criminal background checks.
I think the legislature needs to revisit many of the specifics in this statue. Additionally, it should be revisited, changed where needed and renewed (if necessary) every four months and a non-partisan oversight board should be empaneled.
Serving the public under the COVID-19 outbreak
- What are the biggest challenges in your district in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak?
Housing, food insecurity, lack of medical care, testing, and Housing, food insecurity, lack of medical care and testing, and social distance enforcement from the NYPD.
I have been trying to meet the challenge by partnering with a local restaurant, Calexico, to deliver food to NYSHA residents in my district.
- What are the appropriate roles of city, state, and federal governments in a crisis such as this?
The federal government should be coordinating the supply chain, developing, manufacturing and distributing tests and the supplies needed to take the tests such as swabs. It should also be supplying first responders with PPE as well as financially aiding local and state governments to continue providing essential health, education, welfare and safety services.
The role of the states and local governments is to coordinate on the ground efforts to distribute these as well as make policies for the safety of its residents and stopping the spread of the virus based in science and the available data.
All such government policies/actions must insure there is no violation of citizens' constitutional rights and not lend itself to an abuse of power.
- How will you help your future constituents, residents and businesses, access potential funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, or any other future government relief funds?
I would have a Cares coordinator in my office to assist my constituents navigate and access any and all available relief funds. I would also do an evaluation of what types of funds my constituents most need as well as distribute easy to follow instructions about how to access assistance.
CAMPAIGN PROMISES MADE TO VOTERS
What are the top five promises you are making to the voters during the campaign?
Campaign Promise 1
Criminal Justice Reform
Campaign Promise 2
Campaign Promise 3
Campaign Promise 4
Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign Promise 5
Tax Reform (make big corporations, Wall St and real estate developers pay their fair share)
ETHICAL REPRESENTATION OF CONSTITUENTS
Citizens Union believes that all New Yorkers deserve to be represented by officials who work for the public interest and honor the public trust. With the corruption conviction of recent legislative leaders, we seek to endorse a candidate who will demonstrate that she/he will honor the full commitment of the oath of office, and always represent the public interest above all else.
Please tell us how you have and would continue to conduct the political affairs of this office in an upright manner, and maintain the public trust.
I have publicly announced that I will not take and have not taken any such contributions, which I believe separates me from other candidates running for this seat. I’ve seen firsthand how campaign contributions from corporate interests strongly influence policy and how we collectively legislate as a state. In order for us to create a level playing field for everyday New Yorkers, I will also advocate for true campaign finance reform that will eliminate corporate interest and private real-estate money from our political process. New York State should pursue a system similar to New York City’s system and match at a 6-to-1 ratio to bring greater equality to state elections — this gives candidates an incentive to reach out to their own constituents rather than focusing on wealthy, and often out of district, donors. A small donor matching system would bring about more racial and socio-economic diversity in donorship in our political process. At the end of the day true campaign finance reform must eliminate the influence of corporate interest and private real estate money in our political process. Supporting public financing of elections is one major step towards creating a political system that works for the people, not corporations and the real estate industry.
In addition, I learned the power of advocacy groups as s JFREJ’s representative in Communities United for Police Reform where I advocated in favor of city and state legislation including the Right to Know Act and the Police Stat Act, to strengthen transparency and accountability for law enforcement. I learned up close the importance of building grassroots power to lead the fight for reform and if elected to the NYS Senate for the 25th District I will continue to partner and work with these types of organizations as well as with local community groups. I would also actively empower community leaders who are not attached to institutional power but who are influential in their own right. An effective elected official understands the job is best done by partnering with the grassroots- with the people. That is how a legislator remains true to their constituents. Since I am not taking any real estate or corporate money I will not be beholden to corporations.