Randy Credico, a celebrated political satirist and activist, who made a run for Senator Chuck Schumer's seat in 2009 but failed to get enough valid signatures on the ballot because his campaign had been infiltrated, has succeeded this time and has made the ballot for NYC Mayor.
Credico who can be pretty funny at times is dead serious in his campaign to become the mayor of NYC. Recently he was interviewed on NY1's award winning political talk show Inside City Hall with Errol Louis. In that interview Credico revealed his platform which represents the most progressive voice in politics today which includes calling for the end of the war on drugs, ending the racist stop-and-frisk police policies and taxing Wall Street.
Sometimes in life you meet people that will change you forever. This is what happened to me when I met Randy in 1997. I don't know if it was destiny or by chance that our lives crossed paths. All I know is that our partnership gave birth to a street movement that challenged the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws which put me and hundreds of thousands of low level non-violent offenders in prison for many years. I had served a 15 to Life sentence under the Rock Laws and was granted executive clemency after 12 years.
One night as Credico was flipping the channel of a television in a sleazy motel in Florida as he was drying out from a cocaine binge he stumbled upon me on C-Span television talking about the Rockefeller Drug Laws and the conditions of imprisonment I faced. He was so moved and impressed with what I had said he vowed to get involved to fight the injustice of New York States drug laws. Credico tracked me down and invited me to the "Monkeys Paw," a famous west village bar where he regularly performed comedy. I soon discovered that not only was Randy funny but he was also a brilliant political activist. He was born and raised in Pomona California who became involved with show business at an early age. He was influenced by his father Bill who ran a multi entertainment complex in Southern California which featured world renowned entertainers like Louie Armstrong and Bobby Darin. Bill also did a ten year stint for bank robbery which influenced Randy to become a fighter for justice. Credico had performed on the comedy circuit for twenty years making regular appearances in Las Vegas and his career reached critical acclaim when he appeared on the "Tonight Show" at the age of 27. At that point he decided to combine his love of comedy and activism and began to fight for justice on behalf of those less fortunate. He spent much if the 1980's in Central America with the peace movement and organized and led a group of comedians through the region. He returned and was credited with catapulting the son of teamster Jimmy Hoffa into the teamster presidency though "Humor for Hoffa."
His political activism was cultivated when he became friends with the legionary civil rights attorney William Kunstler. Credico met him when he asked for Kunstler's help for Credico's then girlfriend singer and actress Joey Heatherton got in trouble with the law. A strong friendship developed and after Bill had passed on Randy founded the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice along with Bill's wife Marge Kunstler. As director he targeted issues of injustice that affected communities of color. One of the issues he concentrated on was the nation's war on drugs.
When I met Credico I just had gotten out of prison and I was hell bent on going on a rescue mission to save others I had left behind. Fresh out of the gulag I started making trips to Albany New York along with other activist organizations to talk with politicians about repealing the laws that put me away. But most of the time I talked to them I saw that it was a typical reaction for them to yes me to death and almost always do nothing in following up when they did agree to help out. When the novelty of meeting with politicians wore off I saw that all I was really doing was spinning my wheels in trying to get something done with them. This was not working for me and I knew that the problem would have to be approached from another angle. And it seemed that Randy could provide me with one. When I met him he wanted to know what his organization could do to fight the drug war in New York. This went hand in hand with what I wanted to do. Some might call it a match made in heaven. Whatever it was I knew that my friendship with him would lead to my dream of changing the horrible laws that had put me away along with tens of thousands of low level non-violent drug offenders.
After several meetings where we racked our brains to come up with an idea how we could challenge New York's drug laws we finally hit pay dirt. We came up with the idea of organizing family members of those imprisoned under the Rockefeller Drug Laws in a manner modeled after the 1970's Argentina mothers of the disappeared - who regularly took to the streets, protesting against the government's "Dirty War" of torture, murder and disappearance of accused left-wingers. We figured we could start a street movement that would convince politicians to do away with these horrible laws.
On May 8th 1998, the NY "Mothers of the Disappeared" staged their first rally at Rockefeller Center in NYC. About two dozen family members held signs with photos of their loved ones who had disappeared because of New York's drug laws. This simple but dramatic gesture led to amazing media coverage. We knew at that point we had given birth to a street movement that was able to reach out to citizens, because it put a human face on the war on drugs. We chronicled amazing stories of courage from our members, including a ten year old girl whose mother was sentenced to 15 to Life, who became the "Shirley Temple" of our drug law movement. Numerous advocates have joined our ranks. They included celebrities like comic actor and TV host Charles Grodin, religious leaders such as Cardinal O 'Connor, and former politicians.
Together we battled the laws and forged a partnership that brought us a multitude of rich experiences which led to the release of many of the prisoners we advocated for. With a small group of about 25 dedicated individuals, in five years we managed to shift public opinion and brought about meaningful change to the Rockefeller Drug Laws.
I know Randy Credico. I think he would be a great mayor and serve the residents of New York City very well. To learn more about him and his campaign please go to his website.