Amsterdam News Primary Endorsements, Part 1

EDITORIAL | 8/23/2018, midnight
Check out the candidates the New York Amsterdam News is endorsing.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Jumaane Williams and Letitia James Pat Arnow/Flickr, Bill Moore photos

Lt. Governor

The official duties of the lieutenant governor according to the State Constitution are as follows: serve as president of the State Senate, serve as acting governor when the governor is out of state, incapacitated, unable to serve or to become governor should the governor die, resign or be removed from office via impeachment. Additional duties include serving on the New York Court for the Trial of Impeachments, on the State Defense Council and on the Board of Trustees of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry. And lastly to take on duties assigned by the governor. In the primaries, the lieutenant governor and the governor are elected independently, but they run together in the general election.

Kathy Hochul has been lieutenant governor of New York for more than three years.  Robert Duffy preceded her. And for most of the editorial board, it was the first or second time meeting her. Certainly the first time to have a substantive conversation. Hochul is experienced and faithful and has primarily been in the background as is expected from a lieutenant governor. She told the editorial board that her job is to be the eyes and ears of the governor and to champion his signature issues. Although that might be what the governor wants in a lieutenant, we are not sure that is what the state needs. 

Jumaane Williams who is her opponent in the race and a current New York City Council member sees the office differently. He would make the lieutenant governor’s office into that of a public advocate and an ombudsman of sorts. He believes that the office could be so much more than what it is and that from the seat he could hold the legislature and the governor accountable. Although technically those roles do not fall under the purview of the job, there is no reason that a lieutenant governor could not take on issues for themselves. As the council member put it, if he is elected, the only power the governor will have over his office will be his budget, and he is perfectly capable of using his MetroCard, Metro North and other means of public transport to get around the state to do the job that he plans to do. Although that might not make the governor happy, if he chooses to work with a lieutenant governor like Williams, all New Yorkers could be the better for it. 

Although many politicians are quickly jumping on the progressive and activist bandwagons, Councilman Williams has more than a decade of a proven track record of working on behalf of his community, district, Brooklyn and New York City residents. Essentially, Williams will be the “eyes and ears” of the people throughout the state, not just for the governor. 

It is for this reason and for the dedication to the people of New York that we endorse Jumaane Williams for lieutenant governor.

Attorney General

Very few people thought there was going to be a contested race for attorney general in this primary election cycle if you had asked them just a few months ago. No one was expecting Eric Schneiderman to resign and for the position to become open. But this resignation has left an opportunity for several people to get into the race—in particular, three dynamic women, all highly qualified, all fantastic lawyers. Each one comes from a different place: Leecia Eve, comes from Buffalo, N.Y. and a family of public servants; Zephyr Teachout, born out west and raised in Vermont; and last, but not least, is Letitia James, born and raised in New York City. First we must say that New York will be a better state having any of the three serve, as all of them are highly qualified and would do a great job. But when it comes down to choosing one, we went with experience tenacity and grit.