It wasn't a rally with thousands of people in attendance or a high-dollar fundraiser. And that's OK with Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian Party's gubernatorial nominee.
Sharpe held a meet-and-greet last week at Wild's Eats & Sweets on Genesee Street in Auburn. Nearly 30 people attended the two-hour event and listened to the candidate for governor explain why he's running.
Economics is a major reason why Sharpe decided to run for governor. As an entrepreneur — he founded and operates a business consulting firm — he has faced the same struggles as many other small business owners. But he is resisting the temptation to relocate to a more business friendly state.
Sharpe revealed that he lost 50 percent of his income in 2017. This year, mainly due to his campaign for governor, he has lost 75 percent of his income.
"I love this state and if I don't change it, I have to move," he said in an interview before the meet-and-greet. "I don't want to move. I have a wife and two kids. I am bleeding like there's no tomorrow."
To address New York's economic woes, he wants to reduce property taxes, eliminate unnecessary regulations and emphasize skills development in schools that could help students find jobs and provide employers with a better prepared workforce.
One of his top goals: eliminating unfunded mandates. He noted that for most New York counties, Medicaid costs and other mandates are a large percentage of their annual budgets.
Sharpe wants to change that by decentralizing government and giving counties more control.
Aside from his economic positions, Sharpe supports legalizing marijuana — polls show New Yorkers believe marijuana should be legal — and is an advocate for fathers' rights. (He believes the family law system is broken and in need of reform.)
Those positions alone may set himself apart from the major party gubernatorial candidates, incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican nominee Marc Molinaro. But there is something else that sets him apart: his travel.
Sharpe has crisscrossed the state to spread his message and meet with voters. Before coming to Auburn last week, he made a stop in Utica. His trip included several other events in upstate New York.
"When I go to towns, I find people who are shocked that I'm there," he said.
His events tend to be free. While other candidates hold fundraisers or aren't holding very many (if any) public events, he prefers to meet with voters in a setting like Wild's Eats & Sweets.
Before the forum, he engaged in conversations with the restaurant's owner and patrons about criminal justice reform. While speaking with this reporter, he was asked by an early-arriving attendee if he supports legalizing marijuana. (He does.)
For Sharpe, it's the ideal environment.
"Give the guy or gal who runs this shop some money. Eat your thing, drink your thing and listen to me yap," he said.