Tim Dunn with Unite NY opens up the meeting at Rock City Centre.

by Dave Warner

On Tuesday night, Unite NY held an informational session at Rock City Centre for interested parties. Unite NY is an organization dedicated to electing candidates who will support policies that enable and encourage private investment in New York to grow the innovation economy and create more jobs.

Their website states, “For far too long, New York’s political system has been a clear example of all that’s wrong with politics. Party bosses, special interests, dirty money, and lobbyists call the shots and the result is one of the least transparent, least ethical, and least effective governing structures in the US.”

Executive Director Tim Dunn stated, “We are an organization that is sort of flying outside the norm. Most people that are involved in politics are either Republicans or Democrats, and we found that while most voters live in the middle, they’re not as inclined to get involved.”

Dunn said that it was dangerous to let those on the left and right make all of the decisions for us. “We’ve been working on building a team across the state with strong regional strength,” he said.

Martin Babinec, Founder of Unite NY said, “We’re making progress, but one has to play the long game whenever you’re trying to do something that is major change.”

He went on to say that the process for getting candidates on the ballot is not well understood and a lot more complicated than most people realize.

“We have a few basic principles and they include trying to get more people engaged as voters. The numbers of voters turning out reflects a declining rate of voter participation and that is ultimately giving us less attractive choices that discourage people from turning out in the next election,” Babinec stated.

Understanding how to change that is a large undertaking according to Babinec. “We’re creating awareness about the potential for change that many voters had not realized was possible. So change is first brought about when awareness gets people’s attention, followed by their willingness to engage.”

Dunn said, “We are affiliated with a much larger group called Unite America. They’re a national organization focused on pro-democracy reform. In this cycle, they’ve committed to investing more than $55 million nationally for that reform.”

Babinec said, “Today we’re at that stage of continuing to drive awareness and yet to achieve the goal that we’ve set of getting a statewide ballot line through this election cycle, we have to get additional engagement, and that’s gauged by petition signatures.”

“It’s an impossibly high bar, but that does not deter us from persuing this challenge,” stated Babinec.

One of the products that the organization has created is the Voter Empowerment Index, which tracked voter sentiment on a variety of vital reforms such as open primaries, term limits, campaign finance reform, and more.

You can read more about the index and the group at https://uniteny.org/