Posted by Kellie Ryan on March 06, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Meet the millennials working to enact open primaries in New York: Jason Martinez
Meet Jason Martinez, an independent activist for the Independence Party of New York City who has been braving the cold weather these past few months acquiring signatures on our petition asking Senator Charles Schumer to urge the New York Democratic Party to open the 2016 Presidential Primary to independent voters. Jason is 34 years old and was raised in the small country town of Las Piedras, Puerto Rico. During his early teenage years he was relocated to Bronx, New York. He and his family have been residents of Co-op City since 1991. He was enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and resided in central Florida for most of his 20's. He is a master barber by profession, and an entrepreneur. He receives all of his motivation from his two beautiful children.
How long have you been involved with the Independence Party of New York City?
I have been involved with the Independence Party since early 2013. Shortly after registering as an independent in late 2012, I received opportunities to not only learn more about the independent movement, but to witness daily activities on what it takes to reach out to to other independents like myself.
Why did you get involved with this campaign?
Opening up the primaries is a very difficult subject to discuss with someone when you only have a few minutes to explain the issue. But, it is the most important topic! We saw the numbers in the 2013 NYC mayoral race. Less than 10% of registered voters are electing our government officials. This is unacceptable. I became involved with this campaign hoping to witness a change, and to know that an average independent citizen, like myself, was able to help.
What has been the best part about working on the campaign?
Seeing and listening to all the different views of people you get to meet. Having fun, random conversations with all different people of all ages. Traveling to different sites and witnessing how quickly views change according to demographics and location. But, my favorite part of all is engaging in healthy debates with registered members of the two major parties.
Why should the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary be open to independent voters?
First of all independents are growing at an impressive rate, here in New York and nationally. There are 2.9 million independents in the state of New York. The Democratic Party cannot ignore these numbers. In order to have adequate democracy, we have to acknowledge and adapt to change as it comes.
What have you learned from talking with New Yorkers about closed primaries?
Now this is interesting. Unless the person is active and up-to-date with politics, they really do not know about the issue! Even most registered Democrats, when informed of the damage of closed primaries, support opening primary elections in an incognito way. I found this so beautiful, because it shows how tight the grip of the two major parties on its members really is. There was not a single voter that I met that was truly against opening the primaries.
What will you do once this campaign is over?
After a few years, I can truly say I'm an independent activist. So there will always be new projects, campaigns, petitions and phone calls to make. I have my own personal projects that I'm working on, but for the most part I will always dedicate time to helping the independent movement. It has been an honor thus far to work with such great people in the NYC Independence Party Clubs.