An open invitation to the media was sent out by the Abdelazim campaign to attend a fundraiser held at SPOOL MFG in Johnson City, NY on October 13, 2012. The event was an art auction, and the guest speaker was Dr. Sandra Steingraber – a noted anti-fracking advocate. We took up the invitation and went to the event. No other members of the media attended to our knowledge, making our video coverage an exclusive.
The event started at 7pm and was scheduled to end at 10pm. We arrived slightly before 7 and had the chance to look around before the event got underway. Lost Dog Cafe had 2 bartenders serving beer and wine made in New York. The food and desserts had a vegetarian bent, with all desserts clearly labeled for all their ingredients, and were prepared by local residents. The theme, like the artists, was New York with an emphasis on Broome County.
There was also a broader theme to the fundraising event, anti-fracking. That was the subject the guest speaker, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, was to talk about and a major component of Tarik Abdelazim’s campaign for Broome County Executive. While the art did not reflect this, it was a clear emphasis made in the press release we received.
Like most political events, things ran a touch late with the guest speakers actually talking at about a half hour after the target of 8pm. Considering that we observed supporters arriving right up till the time that the speakers began, it all worked out well. At our last rough count some 100 supporters were in attendance.
The first speaker of the night was actually Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan. An outspoken opponent of hydrofracking, who recently suffered the setback of having the courts reject the City of Binghamton moratorium on fracking, gave the introduction of Dr. Sandra Steingraber. Dr. Steingraber is also a large voice in opposition of fracking.
Dr. Steingraber spoke at length about her efforts to prevent waste management incinerators into southern Illinois farmlands. She spoke in the most dire terms in describing the ills of such an enterprise, and thus compared hydrofracking as its equivalent. Her views and comments were well-received by an audience that was already accepting of an anti-fracking stance. Dr. Steingraber also made clear that she would provide the profits derived from sales of her book that night to the Abdelazim campaign.
This was followed by what we assume was a live-art/satire performance. The “Clows for Tarik” bit lost us. We are rather sure from the reaction of the audience and the Abdelazim campaign that whatever may have been expected was either translated badly or just didn’t play as well as the initial idea seemed to indicate.
Finally, Tarik Abdelazim spoke about his campaign and the efforts of his family and supporters in this election cycle. He spoke on his opponent, incumbent Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, and made several allegations about her actions in office. It seems likely that each of the items spoken about will come up at the October 25th debate between the candidates. Mr. Abdelazim also spoke about his opposition to fracking.
The event was a success for the Abdelazim campaign, and the supporters that came out to hear a comrade voice in opposition of fracking. It was a success for the artists that were able to have their art auctioned. It was a success for Dr. Steingraber in selling her book and supporting a candidate that shares her views of the woes of fracking with the profit of the book sales that night.
The question that remains, is if the success will follow to the election. But then, that is the question facing all candidates in November.
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