BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Seeking to identify a unifying campaign issue that could attract the support of all New Yorkers, the Rob Astorino gubernatorial campaign has started the process of creating an independent ballot line based on the “Stop Common Core” movement. The goal is to collect at least 15,000 valid signatures from all over the state in time to permit the line on this November’s election ballots. Candidates firmly supporting the repeal of the federally funded Common Core standards could then run as a “Stop Common Core” choice, permitting voters to show their support for that position by casting their ballots for the candidates so designated.
Mike Lawler, campaign manager for Republican nominee Astorino, explained that the campaign committee had from the start intended to create an independent ballot line on an issue that could unite New Yorkers. After talking with anti-common core advocates and grassroots leaders, they settled on the “Stop Common Core” theme.
“We decided to choose an issue that cuts across political and geographical boundaries,” he states. “We think it is essential that faceless federal bureaucrats not be allowed to dictate state education policy. We are offering an opportunity for voters across the state to support Rob and at the same time express their opposition to federal common core.”
The petitions circulated by the Astorino campaign will contain four names to be placed on the Stop Common Core line: Rob Astorino for governor, Chris Moss for Lieutenant Governor, Robert Antonacci for Comptroller, and John Cahill for Attorney General. These candidates are also Republican nominees; however, Lawler explains, the Stop Common Core movement cuts across party lines, and any local Democrat wishing to run on that line can do so upon collecting the appropriate number of valid signatures for his or her campaign.
Otsego County GOP Committee Chairman Vince Casale will be coordinating the statewide collection and submission of the petitions to the state Board of Elections. He has also been on the frontlines of contacting anti-Common Core groups around the state to circulate petitions and collect signatures.
“I was surprised at how well organized the Stop Common Core groups are around the state,” he says. “It made implementation of the petitioning go really smoothly. It was like they were waiting for something to finally be done about it.” He claims that there are already hundreds of volunteers around the state working on collecting signatures.
“We want the Common Core completely removed, and replaced with better, stronger standards that are the product of local control and input, and which will afford teachers the opportunity for proper training and implementation,” he adds.
Chris Day, Republican candidate for U.S. Representative, 17th Congressional District, has also joined forces with the Stop Common Core movement. He supports the creation of the separate ballot line, and intends to make “uncoupling the federal connection” between Common Core and federal education funding a main focus of his time in Congress.
“I believe we need to cut the federal funding link to common core,” he explains. “States need to be able to withdraw from common core without paying a penalty in losing federal education money.”
Locally, community activist Lynn Teger is heading up the petition effort in Rockland County.
“The response to the petition has been unbelievable,” she states. “People are downloading and circulating the petitions on their own, as well as through local organized efforts.” She notes that the Rockland County Republican Committee is also participating in carrying out the petitioning. She cautions, however, as do Lawler, Casale and Day, that individual activists must keep in mind that the petitions are legal documents and those interested in distributing them must adhere to strict requirements as to how that can be done.
Copies of the petitions, along with instruction sheets, can be downloaded from http://www.stopcommoncoreballotny.com or http://stopccssinnys.com. Rocklanders can also contact Teger at 845-709-0929 for instructions on how to circulate the petitions, as well as information on dropping off completed sheets. Petitioning started on July 8; the last day to return petitions to local representatives is August 8.