After we obtained ballot status in 1995, I asked the party’s co-founders Thomas Golisano and Laureen Oliver, “What do we do now?” I needed answers so I called my friendly neighborhood member of Congress, Thomas Manton for help and he graciously agreed.
We met at his Queens Boulevard office in Woodside to chat. We actually spent the entire afternoon talking. Since there is no manual on how to create a major political party, and thereafter maintain and grow a successful political organization, I wanted to learn from the best. And he was one of them.
I have since learned from the best Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Conservatives, Right-to-Life, Green Party members, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, reporters, real estate tycoons, media barons and religious leaders. I needed them all to help to construct my vision of a cathedral of good government and political reform.
Building a modern day political party was not an easy task. You may remember me, and our other party founders: Joseph Tiraco, Benjamin Fischer, Bill Struhs, James Struhs, Gloria Sharpe, Jason Chen, Lee Cheng, Gloria Correa and our members who passed away: Jimmy Sharpe, Gerald Whintrop and my Dad manning our big red, white and blue pop-up tent throughout Queens’ many festive local street fairs registering new voters, recruiting volunteers, and promoting our candidates.
Tom Manton suggested we do street fairs for party building, and as of April 1, we have 23,014 registered active Independence Party voters in Queens. We are now the largest ballot status third political party in Queens and New York State, thanks, to good old school early advice from Tom Terrific . . . I miss him.
Michael N. Niebauer is the President/CEO of Spindoctor, Inc. a media and advocacy agency;
Founder of the Independence Party of Queens County; and, QPTV Producer of “The Independent”, a popular, Time Warner, RCN, and Verizon Vios live cable talk show.