New York gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe speaks at UB

Candidate addresses audience at town hall event

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New York gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe talked about his “no ground rules” approach during his latest campaign stop on Monday. 

Sharpe, a self-proclaimed businessman, teacher, and veteran, talked to roughly 75 students and community members in Student Union 228 on Monday night. The event, hosted by the Student Association and UB’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter, was billed as a “town hall” stop for the candidate, who is running in the upcoming New York State gubernatorial election on Nov. 6. His running mate for lieutenant governor, Andrew Hollister, was not in attendance. 

Sharpe spent the evening tackling audience questions about Democrats and Republicans, the school system, taxes, infrastructure and family court. He often brought up running on a platform of “freedom, plus accountability, plus transparency.”

Without introduction, Sharpe walked around the room and struck up conversations with audience members. He shook their hands and asked them why they came to the event.

Sharpe also shared his ideas on how he would change the state’s education system, including giving every student $20,000 and five years to use it, much like a G.I. bill.

Sharpe said he wants to encourage college enrollment, but “is against forcing people into college at 18 years old.” 

Those who don’t feel that a two-year or four-year college is right for them, Sharpe said, should go to a trade school, get a job after graduation or start a business.

He said he would get rid of grades 11 and 12 and instead make grades K-10 because “People know that the last two years of high schools are study halls, gym, and smoking weed. That’s what it is.”

Sharpe also touched on the legalization of marijuana, and said cannabis should be “regulated like onions.” Through this, Sharpe said he anticipates success for farmers, less people in chronic pain, less opioid addictions and less people in jail.

“Take a law with ‘onion’ in it, scratch it out [and put] cannabis. We are done...let’s make something happen,” Sharpe said.  “No one should go to jail for having a plant in their pocket.”

“My desire to be righteous is very low, my desire for happy New Yorkers? Really high, pun intended.”

Mike Shul, a junior business administration major, said he watched Sharpe talk on “The Joe Rogan Experience” and wanted to see Sharpe speak in person. During the question portion of the event, Shul asked Sharpe how his military background has affected his viewpoints.

“He definitely gave me way more information than I probably needed, but he was very thorough and didn’t beat around the bush,” Shul said.  “He was direct in all his points and didn’t blow smoke. … I thought he said a lot of interesting stuff.”

David Ross, a junior business administration major, is the president of YAL. Ross said YAL was able to get Sharpe to speak at UB through club connections with the New York gubernatorial candidates and the help of the libertarian himself.

“We reached out to the third party [gubernatorial] candidates and Larry Sharpe was really the only one interested in coming [to UB],” Ross said.

“I think [the town hall] went wonderfully and I agree with pretty much everything [Sharpe] said,” Ross said.  

Ross said he was “particularly” interested in Sharpe’s views on fathers’ rights and liked how Sharpe “wants to make family court less corrupt.”

“If you agree with me 80 percent, you should consider voting for me. Anything less, vote for someone else,” Sharpe said. “If you want change in New York State, there is only one option: voting gold in November. If you vote red or blue, I promise you, the same thing as it has been the past 16 years will happen again.”

If Sharpe wins, he said he “will change what it means to be a New Yorker overnight.” 

If he loses, he said he “will keep talking because [he] will need to, and other people will pick up the ideas because they will have to.”

Sharpe is running on the Libertarian ticket against incumbent governor, democrat Andrew Cuomo, former county executive of Erie County, Buffalo city comptroller and independent Joel Giambra, the Working Families Party’s Cynthia Nixon, republican Marcus Molinaro, independent Stephanie Miner and the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins.

Kirsten Dean is the assistant features editor and can be reached at kirsten.dean@ubspectrum.com and @KirstenUBSpec