Bi-Partisan, Grassroots Support Continues Building For A People’s Convention To Reform New York

Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
August 28, 2009

In the opening of my legislative column last week, I asked readers if they believed it was time to change state government. I also asked whether they felt state government had stopped working for them. Based on the latest independent survey research and, more importantly, the direct feedback I have been receiving from citizens across our community, the answer to both questions is a resounding “yes,” meaning a People’s Convention to Reform New York is another step closer to becoming reality.

When the Siena College Research Institute surveyed voters on this topic, it found 63 percent of them in favor of a People’s Convention to Reform New York, which is a clear and compelling mandate for change. However, don’t merely take my word for it. Siena New York pollster Steven Greenberg said that support for a People’s Convention to Reform New York included “a majority of voters from every party, every region, every religion, every race, and every age group.” You can review the Siena Poll results at their Web site.

This latest research arrives on the heels of a Quinnipiac University Poll I highlighted last week showing 64 percent of voters in favor of the People’s Convention to Reform New York. Clearly, as these two separate polls have shown, the voters of New York desire change in how State government operates and, most importantly, how it serves their needs. I could not agree more – and judging by these poll results, I am not alone!

Greenberg also described how support for a People’s Convention to Reform New York was especially powerful at the most important level in our democracy: the grassroots. Toward this end, Greenberg said the following, “While the issue of a convention is not popular with many elected officials, it is with their constituents.” Greenberg’s statement underscores an urgent need for voters wanting change to get involved and raise their voices in support of a People’s Convention to Reform New York. If the people speak, their elected representatives will listen.

This past Wednesday I launched an on-line petition where people could support the growing, bi-partisan effort to bring real reform to state government. Since the petition’s launch, several hundred people from across New York have added their name to the cause of reform. After you finish reading this piece, if you haven’t done so already, please visit the Web site and support a People’s Convention to Reform New York. Invite your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and anyone else you know who wants real change in state government to sign the petition.

Besides raising awareness of our on-line petition, one point I will continually stress throughout this grassroots effort is that a People’s Convention to Reform New York cannot be a vehicle for elected officials – of any political party – special interests, or anyone else with a stake in maintaining Albany’s broken status quo. Accordingly, the typical political insiders and party officials need not apply. I believe that a People’s Convention to Reform New York has to be about the people and their needs.

As such, I will continue calling on the media and good government groups to urge elected officials and special interest agents to abstain from running as delegates or serving in the convention and publicly expose any who try to do otherwise. This effort must be about reform and fixing state government. Partisan politics and special interests have been part of the problem – they will not be part of the solution.

I have been pleased to see prominent politicians publicly endorse a People’s Convention to Reform New York, chief among them former Governor Mario Cuomo who championed a similar effort back in 1997. Likewise, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who has been, and continues to be, supportive of a People’s Convention to Reform New York. Much like former Governor Cuomo, in 1997 Assemblyman Brodsky editorialized in favor of the reform push. It is my hope that other Majority members will follow their courageous lead and publicly endorse this growing reform effort. This effort also has Minority support, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Congressman Rick Lazio. Building support – from the grassroots up – among voters of all political affiliations, ideologies and geographic regions of New York State is essential.

This week I began circulating my legislation for establishing a People’s Convention to Reform New York to all my Assembly colleagues. I also will be calling upon the State Senate to introduce companion legislation in support of my bill. Each week I will update you on the progress of the initiative’s sponsorship from legislators, as well as organizations that are committed to advancing the cause of real solutions and reforming our state government.

Without question, the “spark” of reform has been lit and with continued bi-partisan, grassroots support it will ignite the spirit of countless New Yorkers who are ready, willing and able to take their government back through a People’s Convention to Reform New York.

As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at