GLOVERSVILLE — After becoming increasingly involved in the community over the past year, city resident Lashawn Hawkins has announced plans to take the next step in her immersion by launching a campaign bid for a seat on the Common Council as councilwoman-at-large.
Hawkins, while announcing her candidacy on Monday at Dorn Space on North Main Street in a socially distanced public event attended by roughly a dozen locals and members of the media, recalled that she used to be among those residents who said of Gloversville, “I just live here.”
Hawkins moved to the city with her three children in 2012 from Florida to be closer to family and became devoted to working with people in need. Hawkins initially took a position with a non-profit working with people with disabilities that became a family affair as her children became involved with her work. Her expressed dedication to people has also seen her working in the fields of domestic violence and mental health and volunteering her time in various ways.
But it wasn’t until after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25 that Hawkins saw an opportunity to bring about change in her community.
“Over this past summer, my life has shifted. I was able to take part in a movement that took part across our nation, in our communities, in our counties,” said Hawkins, recalling the protests against police violence that swept across the country.
As some demonstrations saw individuals turn to looting or rioting, Hawkins sought to give locals a peaceful way to have their voices heard and organized a series of silent demonstrations across Fulton and Montgomery Counties.
“With so much pride, so much dignity, we stood out and represented our cities, towns and villages so beautifully,” said Hawkins, pointing to the silence as ensuring that no voice was drowned out.
In the months that followed, Hawkins founded the non-profit organization I Can Breathe and I Will Speak Inc. with a commitment to creating positive change in the community and a mission of seeking justice and equality for all races.
Hawkins through the non-profit organized a series of support efforts to aid families and individuals in need amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Those initiatives included hosting a local job fair, giving away backpacks filled with free school supplies in the fall, the contact free distribution of Halloween candy and the distribution of Christmas gifts to the children of families in need who were ineligible for other holiday support programs.
After working for months to help lift up city residents, Hawkins now says they “deserve better.”
“I believe that we all want change, we all want better for our future, for our children. You know if you look back in the history of Gloversville, this was one of the best cities in New York at one point in time. We can still be that place,” said Hawkins. “I am a fighter, and I will fight for what I believe in. I believe in Gloversville … I believe in the people in Gloversville.”
Hawkins pointed to the lack of opportunities for children as one of the biggest problems facing the city.
“Our children don’t even have a decent place to play within our community,” said Hawkins. “Our future is in the children, so if we don’t have anything for them, we don’t have anything to go forward for.”
She also described the city as facing a mental health crisis that has additionally burdened local law enforcement with responding to issues that they have “no clue” how to handle.
Hawkins as a political newcomer acknowledged that she is new to powers and role of government, while pointing to addressing these issues as priorities if elected. Already, Hawkins as a member of the Gloversville Police Department Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Committee has had a chance to weigh in on how and when city police should respond to calls related to mental health issues and whether other agencies should be involved.
Planning to file for the democratic primary, Hawkins said that she decided to launch her first campaign bid for councilwoman-at-large rather than running for the Common Council position over her ward, as she is “for all people.”
“I’m for the whole city, I didn’t want to put myself in a limited space when I know that I care about the entire city the same way, so I decided to take on a bigger responsibility and be a voice for all the people in Gloversville,” said Hawkins.
In that vein, Hawkins added that she wants to hear every voice if elected.
“I am a strong believer in listening to people, not just hearing, listening to people. Even people who don’t agree with what I have to say, even people who are against what I have to say,” said Hawkins. “Large change, large hope and large love will be the change that we will need. So, I ask all of you listening and watching me this afternoon to stand with me as I announce that I will be running for councilwoman-at-large for Gloversville.”