The top job in New York State is not an easy one. A state with hundreds of thousands of employees, a budget of more than $168 billion and a population of approximately 20 million people is a momentous task to govern. When we look for a leader, we want someone who is strong, honest, caring, capable, hardworking, experienced and compassionate, and who understands the complexities of the job and can work well with others. Although we have not always agreed with the governor we can unequivocally state that he is head and shoulders above his competition. Andrew Cuomo has delivered for New York.
As governor he has gotten things done. He signed into law the $15 minimum wage and championed the Marriage Equality Act, Paid Family Leave and the Safe Act.
He has fought against homelessness and launched a plan to increase access to affordable housing.
He has set the nation’s highest goal for MWBE procurement at 30 percent. And he has launched an infrastructure investment program of more than $100 billion that has created and continues to create jobs across the state, while at the same time modernizing New York’s transportation systems (although the MTA still has a lot of work to do).
We must credit his primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, with pushing him on the issues and making him a better and more progressive governor. But all we can say about his current challenger, Marc Molinaro, is that he voted against the Safe Act, voted against marriage equality, did not support equal pay for women and supports fracking in struggling communities upstate (communities that can least afford the health risks of fracking).
So we know that Andrew Cuomo is not perfect, but we also know that he has our backs. Let’s make sure to have his. With that, we endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo to continue as governor, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t watching.
Very few people actually understand the job of the state comptroller. But in fact, it is one of the most important elected positions in the state, with the responsibility of overseeing and serving as sole trustee of the more than $200 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. Besides that, the comptroller is the state’s chief fiscal officer, who ensures that state and local governments use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently, as well as dozens of other duties, including maintaining the state’s accounting system, administering the state’s approximately $16.7 billion payroll, overseeing all the unclaimed funds in New York State and reporting on state finances.
So it is no small task.
The office of the comptroller invests the $200-plus billion in retirement funds. For far too long the financial industry has been much too homogeneous and male dominated. Under the leadership of Tom DiNapoli, the diversification of the managers and the companies that were used to build the retirement funds skyrocketed. Emerging managers were sought out and groomed to take over more and more responsibility for the ever-growing funds. MWBE firms were finally used as prime managers and not just set asides. There were finally women and minorities getting a fair share of the pie. In addition to that, he appointed not just one, but two women of color to the position of chief investment officer. And under their direction the fund grew more than $100 billion.
In addition to diversity issues, DiNapoli has used his audit authority to examine issues directly affecting taxpayer wallets. He has called out school districts for holding too much in reserves and examined the MTA on wait times and poor service to customers. He has worked on how the state pays its contractors, especially small businesses.
For all that he has done and all that he will do, we endorse Tom DiNapoli for another term as New York State Comptroller.
Very few people would have said there would be a contested race for attorney general in this 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. After a spectacular primary, Letitia James came out the victor. She proved that her tenacity and grit, along with experience, made her the right choice. Now, as the general election comes along, our opinion stays the same. Tish James has served New Yorkers as a public defender, as first assistant attorney general (so she has actual experience in the office), as a City Council person and currently as public advocate. She will continue to fight for the issues already undertaken by the office and push them further. She will continue the battle against Exxon and fighting to protect our environment. She will tackle Wall Street abuses and protect immigrant rights. She will be unwavering in protecting the rights of women and promoting gender equity and reproductive health care access. And she will use the powers that she does have to take on nefarious dealings from the White House occupants. For these reasons and more, we endorse Tish James to be the next attorney general.
United States Senator
When Hillary Clinton became secretary of state under President Barack Obama, a little known congresswoman from upstate New York was appointed to fill out her remaining term as U.S. senator. Not only was she not well-known, but also she was young, she was a woman and she was on the conservative edge of the Democratic Party spectrum. That was nine years ago. Since then, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has won two statewide elections. As the junior senator representing New York, she has championed access to health care, the 911 bill and giving gay couples the right to adopt. She continues to fight institutional racism while pushing for early education and universal pre-K. She also believes that there needs to be a national leave plan and that there needs to be better job training on every level. She wants to push for post offices to become more robust by using them as banks as well as places to get your mail. With a third of the nation unbanked and post offices in every community, there would be a perfect synergy to bring banking to every community. She has fought and won so many battles already and continues to fight for New Yorkers. We need to give Kirsten Gillibrand six more years because she has so much more on her agenda and New York needs her. Therefore, we endorse Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. senator.
New York State Senate 13th Senatorial District
The 13th Senatorial District comprises Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and parts of the Woodside and Astoria sections of Queens. It is a diverse area, with diverse needs. Currently it is represented by IDC member Jose Peralta. He lost to Jessica Ramos in the primary but will not back down. He is still trying to save his seat. He has voted against the interests of the community and of the city and has given the Republicans the votes they have needed to control the Senate. He must be voted out. Jessica Ramos is a child of New York and no stranger to hard work, struggle and perseverance. Born to immigrant parents, she understands the need to protect the rights of low-wage workers, immigrants, students and minorities. As a community activist, public servant and union representative, she is the change that Queens needs. She is what the 13th District needs. That is why we endorse Jessica Ramos with great enthusiasm for the 13th Senatorial District.
20th Senatorial District
IDC member Jesse Hamilton, who has been no friend to our communities, lost in the primary to Zellnor Y. Myrie, a young Brooklynite who has decided that it is time to run for office. Yet Hamilton is running anyway, trying to give this young man another test. Zellnor Myrie was raised in the community. He went to Brooklyn Tech and Fordham University, and later to Cornell Law School. As a lawyer, he used his pro-bono time to fight police brutality, help special education students get the services owed them by the Department of Education, help victims of domestic violence and assist asylum seekers. Before law school, he worked as a legislative director in the New York City Council. Among his top priorities are affordable housing, immigration, education and women’s health. He will be a strong advocate for the people of Brooklyn, and once again a true Democrat. So when you go to the polls, vote for Zellnor Myrie. We endorse him because we know he is the future of Brooklyn.
31st Senatorial District
Robert Jackson is tried and true. He has represented New York in so many ways for so long. He has spent his life as an educator, legislator, activist and progressive leader. Jackson has been at the forefront of progressive causes and has led the fight for decades. He was a leader in the City Council. He stood up for tenants’ rights, student rights, affordable housing and small businesses. Now he wants to go to Albany and Albany needs him. The district needs him. District 31 is one of the most diverse districts in Manhattan and comprises Chelsea, Clinton, the Garment District, Hamilton Heights, Harlem, Inwood, Midtown Manhattan, Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side and Washington Heights. Robert Jackson is a proven entity. He has served the community as a City Council member and did an excellent job, and we believe it is time to send him to Albany so that he can continue to work on behalf of all of us. That is why we endorse Robert Jackson for the 31st Senatorial District.
34th Senatorial District
The name Alessandra Biaggi is probably one you have not heard until recently, when she took on and beat the ring leader of the IDC, Jeff Klein, in the primary for this seat. She primarily worked behind the scenes. Whether it was in the office of the General Counsel of the New York Department of State working on storm recovery or as a director in the Clinton campaign, she has been making things happen. A fourth-generation resident in her district, she knows where she comes from and embraces all that her district has to offer. Biaggi is about the community and real progressive values and reform: fully funding education, fully funding the safe act, passing universal health care, ending cash bail, passing property tax relief for low- and middle-income families. And these changes are just a beginning. Biaggi wants to make a difference, and if she is elected, we believe she will. That is why we endorse Alessandra Biaggi wholeheartedly for the 34th Senatorial District.
60th Assembly District
When Charles Barron initially ran for Brooklyn’s 60th Assembly District, we said Barron, who was known to be a firebrand, does not want to go to Albany to entertain. And he wants to go to Albany to make a difference. And that is exactly what he has done. Barron has been on the forefront of social justice issues, education and health, and he has represented his community in Albany with the same zeal that he did in the City Council. No matter the office, he continues to make real change. He continues to be a voice for the unheard and makes sure the community is part of the conversation and part of the solution. Therefore, we endorse Charles Barron for the 60th Assembly District.
71st Assembly District
Alfred E. Taylor is a consummate professional. And he has served his community since he left the armed forces decades ago, first as a member of the late Assemblyman Denny Ferrell’s staff and now as the current Assemblyman. He brings to the district experience, knowledge, trust, hard work and great ideas. As a pastor, he has been a fighter against guns and violence, and he has been an unwavering foe of hate and bigotry. He is a man who cares for his community and makes a difference in it every day. It is for this reason and many more that we endorse Alfred E. Taylor.
74th Assembly District
The 74th Assembly District is a diverse district with extreme wealth and poverty across the street from one another. With the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side, East Village, Alphabet City, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Murray Hill, Tudor City and the United Nations, you need a person who can really connect with myriad people. Originally elected in a special election earlier this year, Harvey Epstein, a life-long community activist, community board member, PTA president and CUNY Law graduate who has been fighting to protect low-wage workers, diversify public schools and make New York a better place, won with 90 percent of the vote in a four-way contest. Since April, he has made his mark in Albany, sponsoring legislation related to mental health, housing and transportation, just to name a few. He has been busy defending women’s rights, implementing gun control and making NYC more accessible to people with disabilities. Harvey Epstein has made a great running start, and we believe he deserves a full term in the Assembly. Therefore, we endorse Harvey Epstein for the 74th Assembly District.
79th Assembly District
Born and bred in the Bronx, Michael Blake seemingly came out of nowhere four years ago to become a State Assembly member and during his tenure was also elected vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.
A product of the New York City public school system, Blake understands the needs of our youth. Touched by all the issues that affect our communities personally, he took his skills to help elect the first Black president of the United States, and then served in the Obama administration for several years before coming home to make a difference in his own backyard.
Serving the poorest district in the country, Blake understands something different needed to happen here and has been making that difference. From sentencing disparities in the justice system, to breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration, to creating jobs, he has the message and the ideas to make great change. He has sponsored dozens of pieces of legislation and co-sponsored hundreds more. He wants to be and is being a change agent. Therefore, we once again endorse Michael Blake for the 79th Assembly District.