Governor hopeful Cynthia Nixon engaged New Kings Democrats (NKD) members Thursday night as she vied for and obtained the progressive political club’s endorsement.
City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood), running for lieutenant governor and, his incumbent rival, Kathy Hochul, also shared their platforms with potential voters.
“One of the biggest disasters of the Cuomo administration has been the defunding of our infrastructure,” said Nixon. “Whether you’re talking about trains, public housing, or about the CUNY and the SUNY system. We have these major institutions here that are crumbling because of the disinvestment.”
Nixon also looked to job creation and noted that working-class roles typically occupied by women, immigrants, and people of color must be upheld and paid a livable wage.
“If we would invest in our infrastructure not only would be burnishing these institutions but we would create jobs that go with them,” said the former Sex in the City star, who also was the only representative to include marijuana decriminalization in her platform.
“This is a campaign about legalizing marijuana as a racial justice issue and just a good idea across the board. This is a campaign about ending mass incarceration and stopping the over-policing of communities of color,” she said.
Hochul, whose platform includes campaign-financing reform, believes the governor’s office is already doing the work it set out to do.
“You can help change the dynamics in this state to give us what we need. And that is a full Democratic senate, full Democratic assembly. The governor and I have very progressive goals and we need to get it done,” said Hochul.
In comparison to other states, Hochul thinks how progressive New York is, is something New Yorkers take for granted.
Although the NKD endorsement went to Williams, Hochul only had good things to say about her opponent.
“I respect him for answering the call of public service and I respect the fact he’s willing to put his name on the ballot for any position he wants,” she said.
Williams’s platform also includes campaign finance reform, but couldn’t have been more different on how he plans to interact with the governor’s office.
“I don’t want to be a rubber stamp for the Governor,” said Williams. “ It’s unfortunate that people think the governor and lt. governor are together. But that’s not what we need. We need someone to work with whoever the governor is going to be. When he or she is doing what is right, but when he or she isn’t, someone has to be able to stand up and say ‘the emperor has no clothes’.”
Williams wants New York state residents to feel represented and see themselves in the administration.
“Identity in politics is important. I’m not saying vote for me because I am a black man. I say vote for me because of all the things I’ve done up to this point,” said Williams referring to the 48 laws he has authored and passed in his tenure as city council. “I am a black man, I am an immigrant, and I have Turrets, that’s critically important.”
There were fresh ideas about how state representatives could work together as well as newcomers running for public office.
NKD members were not able to reach a decision on who to support in State Senate District 22 (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Marine Park, Bensonhurst, Gerritsen Beach) where former journalist Ross Barkan and attorney Andrew Gournardes are battleing it out in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary for the right to face State Sen. Marty Golden (R) in the general election.
Barkan assured NKD Members he was up for the fight. Gounardes ran against Golden in 2012. He said losing with 43% of the vote taught him lesson that would make his current campaign a success.
Genesis Aquino, running for Democratic Female District Leader in Assembly District 51 (Sunset Park, Red Hook) highlighted the importance of civic engagement and why she chooses to run.
“The county committee has failed us. It has allowed someone like [State Sen.] Jesse Hamilton to be our senator and that is unacceptable,” said Aquino.
Hamilton is a former member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) a group of Democratic State Senators who formed a ruling coalition with senate Republicans.
Aquino’s district is home to the largest public housing project in Brooklyn [Red Hook Houses], and large Mexican and Chinese immigrant populations. She wants to give voice to people who may have legal status but may not be able to vote. Aquino would also like to change the judicial housing court nomination process to make it more transparent.
“I want my people to be represented well by the judges in housing court, and to have a fair system. That’s the reason that I’m running,” said Aquino. “I’ve been doing the work already. I think I will be a better district leader than the person who has been there for 14 years, doing absolutely nothing. My people need a seat at the table now.”
Aquino is facing incumbent Democratic district leader Arelis Martinez.