Tom Suozzi is a representative from Long Island. He was a Nassau County executive and a mayor of his hometown, Glen Cove, on Long Island Sound.
This interview with Mr. Suozzi was conducted by the editorial board of The New York Times on May 23.
Read the board’s endorsement for the Democratic gubernatorial primary here.
Kathleen Kingsbury: So we’re just going to launch into questions, if that works for you.
I would like to say a couple of things first, if I can.
Kathleen Kingsbury: You have one minute.
Wow. So I’m a lifelong Democrat. I was the environmentalist of the year for the New York League of Conservation Voters. I was the person of the year for the New York Immigration Coalition. I have a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood. I have a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign. I have an F rating from the N.R.A. I’m the chair of the labor caucus in Congress,The House’s Labor Caucus was formed in 2020 to help expand union power for American workers. It has 120 members and six co-chairs, including Mr. Suozzi. and I’ve been getting elected over — in, in difficult areas for Democrats over many, many years.
And I was very influenced by The New York Times in a couple different things: Your editorial board editorial on Nov. 4 had a very big impact on me and persuaded me to do one thing, that persuaded me to run for governor, because of the fact that the Democrats need to recognize the politics of what we’re doing.
OK, this is the November — for the people on the screen — this is the Nov. 4, 2021, editorial by The New York Times.Last fall, Virginia Republicans swept statewide offices, shifting the state to the right and revealing the broader Democratic Party’s weaknesses ahead of the midterms. The board wrote that Democrats badly needed to energize voters with moderate policies as they have before.
Kathleen Kingsbury: It’s the editorial in wake of the Virginia election.
“Democrats Deny Political Reality at Their Own Peril.” And what’s needed is an honest conversation with the Democratic Party. The results of Virginia, the results in New Jersey, Bill Clinton’s mantra.
We better stop knocking bipartisan deals. We have to look at many blue enclaves like Buffalo, where I got involved in.
I actually went up to Buffalo based upon something else in The New York Times, which was written by Ezra Klein about David Shor’s polling. And it talked about how defunding the police and other Democratic messages are killing the Democratic Party. And I’m the only Democrat in New York State who went up to campaign for Byron Brown against India Walton after she had won the Democratic primary, even though Kathy Hochul’s from Buffalo, did not get involved in that race. Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a whole bunch of others campaigned for India Walton, even though she was declared socialist in that campaign.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Well, you’re getting into one of my first questions. In light of what we see as a national crisis around democracy, how will you rebuild trust? How will you rebuild voter trust in government and the democratic process in New York State after what has been a long list of failures on Covid but also corruption scandals?
Yeah, the most important thing we need to do is listen to what the people want and give them — the purpose of democracy is supposed to be that the elected officials represent the people and you need to do what the people want. That doesn’t happen in New York State.
It hasn’t happened for 30 years because it’s an insider’s game and everybody keeps on getting re-elected, no matter what they do. And the only way people lose their jobs is by scandal, whether it’s Cuomo or Spitzer or Paterson or it’s Alan Hevesi or it’s Eric Schneiderman or it’s Dean Skelos or it’s Joe Bruno or Sheldon Silver or Brian BenjaminIn April, Brian Benjamin, Ms. Hochul’s running mate and lieutenant governor, resigned after being arrested and charged with bribery and fraud. Ms. Hochul appointed him despite potential concerns about his use of campaign funds and suspicious donations while he was a state senator that were raised in his background check. or it’s dozens of other lesser figures.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Quite a list.
And we were declared the most corrupt state in the United States of America by The Washington Post last August.
And Kathy Hochul has continued that trend, doing the stuff that your paper talks against all the time. She raised $20 million in a shorter period of time — more money than Cuomo ever did or Spitzer ever did or Pataki ever did. And she didn’t get it because she’s inspired people.
People are not inspired by the Buffalo Bills deal. They’re not inspired by Brian Benjamin. They’re not inspired by the most secretive budget process in New York State in 30 years, according to Blair Horner, who’s been up there for 30 years. Eleanor knows Blair Horner well, I’m sure. Every other outside observer said this was the most secretive budget process in 30 years.
They’re not inspired by the fact that she’s not even making crime a priority. Forget about what I think we should do or what she thinks we should do or anybody thinks we should do. Let’s at least make it a priority and talk about it. But it’s not even a priority for her.
She didn’t even talk about it even after the cops were killed in New York City and she laid out a plan — and it’s not even a plan; it’s a half-baked press release she did 10 days before the budget was due — and she leaked it,In a March statement to City & State New York, a spokesperson for Ms. Hochul denied releasing the public safety plan to The New York Post. and she told everybody: I’m not going to talk about it. I’m not going to negotiate in public.
It’s been a secretive insider game the way it’s always been in Albany. And we need competition, and we need The New York Times to help make this race more competitive by endorsing Tom Suozzi.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Mara, do you want to jump in?
Mara Gay: We had this horrific killing yesterday in which a 48-year-old man was shot to death on a Q train. What would you do as governor right now to help make the subways safer? Obviously, that’s partially a city responsibility, for the most part —
It’s my No. 1 priority.
Mara Gay: What would you do?
I have a 15-point crime intervention and prevention plan that I’ve talked about every single day. It’s not like Fox News crime prevention, OK?
It’s giving judges the discretion to consider dangerousness. And couple that with technology using a CompStat for justice proposed by a Yale professor, Phillip Atiba Goff, that suggests that we should use statistics to monitor the behavior of police officers the way we monitor the behavior of criminals. Use that — I’m proposing, you can say this — use it for judges as well to monitor their behavior.
Martin Luther King used to say, you can’t legislate morality, but you can regulate behavior.
Use statistics: It’s accepted by the police through CompStat. Use statistics. How often is this police officer using use of force? Is he using it in particular neighborhoods? How often is this judge remanding somebody? What kind of bail are they giving? Use statistics to analyze the behavior and look for those outliers that are ruining the reputation of law enforcement and hold them accountable for their bad behavior.
But my 15-point plan is not just about intervention — all the stuff that the mayor is talking about that I support 100 percent. I endorsed the mayor very early. I campaigned for the mayor. I raised money for the mayor. The mayor asked me to be his deputy mayor. I said, “I’m not going to be your deputy mayor. I’m running for governor. I can help you more as governor than I can as deputy mayor. And help New York City more.”
But there’s a 15-point plan that includes intervention — stuff right now, stuff that I did as Nassau County executive, when I ran the 12th-largest police department of America, bigger than Detroit or Boston. I had the lowest crime rate in the United States of America when I left — to prevention, long-term prevention, the thing that I’m most passionate about, that I — one of the reasons I really want to be the governor of New York State is to take all of our health and human services and bring them into our schools. Because the problems that exist in our schools — we already spend more per student than any state in the United States of America. Our results are below average. We need to take social services, health, mental health, veterans, seniors, youth, physically challenged, drug and alcohol, every federally funded, state funded, locally funded and not for profit and bring them into our schools.
So when you look at test scores for third grade, kids in the good school district and kids in the average school districts are pretty similar in third grade. But by eighth grade, kids in a good school district are skyrocketing. The kids in average school districts have fallen off the face of the earth. All the problems of life are emerging at that time.
The teachers can’t deal with the volume of problems. It’s impossible in average school districts. Good school districts, you know, they got private health insurance. They got their families. They got school psychologists, school guidance counselor, school social worker. They can help them deal with their volume of problems. But if you’re in the Roosevelt school district or some of the New York City school districts or the Buffalo school district, 70 percent of the kids bring a problem with them. You can never get the resources to fight — do more programs. We have to change the mind-set and take our existing programs and bring them into our schools so that when a kid has a problem, the teacher says, “Boy, this kid is falling asleep and getting in fights. They’re being disrespectful. Their life is falling apart. Let’s bring in a social worker to help navigate the bureaucracy with the existing programs that exist all over the place.”
But right now, they’re designed for somebody to show up at the window when they’re an adult and they’re in crisis and they got to get help now or that everything’s over.
Bishop Desmond Tutu used to say — Eric Adams uses this line a lot — we spend a lifetime pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and stop them from falling in the river in the first place. We have to change the whole mentality of health and human services towards prevention.
Nick Fox: Do you think there’s evidence that existing programs are underused?
No, I think that they’re inefficient, and I think that they’re spread out all over the place and they’re designed for reaction, as opposed to prevention. And we have to change that mind-set. It’s the same thing with health care, quite frankly. But this is for mental health and drugs and alcohol. Seventy-five percent of people in jail have a drug or alcohol — when they’re at schools …
Nick Fox: You’re saying —
The problem —
Nick Fox: You’re saying we don’t need more resources in the school; we just need to reallocate resources, and I’m saying, aren’t those resources —
I didn’t say we don’t need more resources. I’m all for increasing state aid and moving away from property taxes towards state aid ’cause property taxes are a regressive tax.
But the answer is not going to be just more spending, because we already have the highest taxes in America, highest state and local taxes in America, and we already spend more per student than any state in the United States of America.
There has to be a complete rethinking of taking our existing resources on the outside, floating out here in the ether very ineffectively and very inefficiently — I’ve been doing this for 30 years — and bring them into the schools and stop the silo between education, health and human services and law enforcement and bring them together. ’Cause 75 percent of people who are in jail have a drug, alcohol or mental health problem. Fifty percent of people at Rikers IslandThe Times was unable to confirm this figure for incarcerated people at the Rikers Island jail complex. have a learning disability.
Kathleen Kingsbury: We have a whole list of questions for you. Lauren, do you want to jump in?
Lauren Kelley: Sure. Hi. Thanks for being here. So I wanted to ask about reproductive rights. You know, obviously, we are very likely headed into a post-Roe America. So I’m curious what your plan is to protect New York in this coming future without Roe v. Wade, very likely. And specifically, if you have thought about a plan for the massive influx of patients that we’re — that abortion clinics here in New York are very likely to see once abortion is banned in a number of red states.
I would support what the governor is proposing right now, by putting more money into the programs and making that available to women who are trying to come to New York State. As I mentioned earlier I have a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood.
I think that abortion must remain safe, legal and accessible. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that New York State is a standard-bearer, as far as abortion rights and abortion access. I also think that New York State should be a standard-bearer, as far as trying to prevent unintended pregnancies by increasing education and contraception.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Binya?
Binya Appelbaum: The New York area is — you’re not going to be surprised by the topic of this question — one of the hardest places to find affordable housing in the United States. One big reason for that is that New York’s suburbs have been extremely resistant to new development. What, if anything, do you think should change in order to make it possible to build more housing in counties like Nassau and Suffolk?
So, as The New York Times said in its 2016 endorsement of my congressional campaign in the general election, “He’s been a national leader in the battle to limit urban sprawl and revitalize aging suburbs.”
And part of that was to create a concept called cool downtowns that I started talking about 20 years ago, which is about going up in our downtowns around our train stations, building apartments, building office, building restaurants, building shops, making the downtowns of places like Long Island much more attractive for young people and increasing transit-oriented development. We’ve had some successes.
If you look at the Mineola train station on Long Island, if you look at Patchogue, if you look at my hometown in Glen Cove, if you look in Rockville Centre, if you look at Long Beach, if you look at Farmingdale, those things are starting to happen. It’s a big fight.
It was a very difficult fight to start 20 years ago, when the Republicans campaigned against me saying, “Tom Suozzi wants to make Nassau County the sixth borough.” And they attacked what I — the complete urbanization I was bringing to Nassau County.
And I laid out a plan that said that: Listen, 95 percent, maybe even 99 percent of our landmass should stay the same. Single-family houses, parks, open spaces. But 1 percent of our landmass, we need to go up and build these cool downtowns, and we should be providing much more robust incentives for that to happen, because it’ll be — you can’t ram it down people’s throats.
The governor proposed Hochul control, not local control, where she said it was mandated that you had to build accessory dwelling units. It would have been a revolution. And it was a revolution not only from Long Island and Westchester and other places throughout the rest of the state but also in parts of Queens and Staten Island and Brooklyn as well.
So we need to do a better job of persuading people as to why this will make people’s lives better by attracting young people into communities that are aging out, by creating affordable housing for people, as well as expanding our tax base and making life more enjoyable and improving the quality of life. So I’ve been working on this for a long time. I know it very, very well, and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to try and affect that as governor.
I really have some stuff I wanted to talk to you guys about.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Don’t worry. We’re going to get to it.
Alex Kingsbury: We have stuff we want to talk to you about, too.
Kathleen Kingsbury: We have plenty of time.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Alex?
Alex Kingsbury: Yeah. In the wake of this shooting up in Buffalo, I wanted to ask if you’ve thought at all about what the state can do about domestic extremism, white nationalist terrorism and the ideologies that are motivating in that sense.
A lot of it has to do with the conversations that we’re having. You know, I’m the vice chairman of a group called the Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, 29 Democrats and Republicans who meet regularly to try and find common ground. We need to be encouraging those Republicans, quite frankly, to stand up to their party, to help us with this issue, because everybody is so — under Trump right now. We need to actually be building partnerships and building trust, which is very difficult to do in this environment between Democrats and Republicans that care about their country and that see this as a scourge on the nation.
Can I just say, one thing specifically related to Buffalo is that we have — three years ago, we passed a law in New York State called a red-flag law. One of my 15 points in my crime prevention and intervention plan is that we never implemented it.New York State’s red-flag law has been in effect since 2019. Although it’s not well known in many parts of the state, judges in some counties have used it to take guns away from people who appear to pose a threat to themselves or others. In Suffolk County, judges have used the law to seize more than 160 guns. We should be out selling the red-flag law. It’s one of the best laws in the country.
We should be — there’s such a long journey between making a speech and passing a law and implementing something. I’m good at running government. I know how to get things done in government. And the red-flag law — I said back in January after the two cops were shot, because the mother was talking about how, my son has had these problems all these years. He’s been in and out of institutions.In January, a gunman shot and killed two New York City police officers in Harlem. The officers were responding to a call about a domestic incident involving the gunman, Lashawn McNeil, and his mother, who said that her son’s mental condition was “very distorted.” It is not clear whether he spent time in and out of institutions. If she knew there was a red-flag law and she knew he had a gun, she could have had the gun taken away from him. Because under the red-flag law, family members, social workers, cops, teachers can say, go to the courts and say: Listen, this person shouldn’t have a gun. Take this person’s gun away from them.
And in the case of this guy that did this awful racist massacre up in Buffalo, the cops knew about it. His teachers knew about it. He was in a mental institution for a day and a half. And his family probably knew about it. And he was the prime candidate for somebody who should have had his guns taken away from him.
I’ve talked to many cops who talk about — before the red-flag law — how they would go into a domestic disturbance or something going on in somebody’s house and they’d see this crazy person or they’d see someone with a drug and alcohol problem who had these guns right there in the house and they’d take them away and they had to give them back because no crime had been committed. The red-flag law was a way for them to take guns away from people. But we haven’t implemented it.
I was so angry when the governor made such a big deal about Washington, D.C., about need for gun control and the need to attack gun violence at the — they should be ashamed of themselves, they said — she said, after Sandy Hook. She was in Congress in 2011, 2012. She was endorsed by the N.R.A. She had a 100 percent rating from the N.R.A. right at the same time that Sandy Hook took place. And she said Congress should be ashamed, and she’s pushing it off over there, when right in front of her is the red-flag law that we did. It didn’t escape her lips, the word “red-flag law,” until I did a press conference that morning, and she brought it up as an afterthought at her press conference with a B.S. executive order.
Nick Fox: If, in this case, the cops seemed to have ignored the red-flag law, what more do you think needs to be done?
The state police need to be trained on the red-flag law. They’re the ones who are investigating. The teachers need to be educated. The administrators need to be educated. The mental health experts need to be. The public needs to be educated. There are family members right now who are living in fear at their homes with some person who’s mentally unstable or has a drug and alcohol problem, and they have a gun in the house, and they know it’s a problem. Let them know that there’s a way to deal with this.
How can it be that after this massacre took place, this wasn’t — the governor wasn’t talking it about every single day to try and promote the red-flag law? Because she hadn’t done it, and she didn’t want to admit that she hadn’t done it. So instead, she’s made it all about Washington, D.C. We — yes, Washington, D.C., needs to be fixed. But it’s the height of hypocrisy that when she was in Washington, she had a 100 percent rating, an A rating, from the N.R.A. And she was boasting about the fact that she was endorsed by the N.R.A.
Jyoti Thottam: Can I follow up on the first part of Alex’s question, on domestic extremism? How would you address that part of the challenge here? Building bridges with Republicans? What —
I think a lot of it just has to do with basic education of people. I mean, there has to be a constant — leadership matters. And what the leaders talk about matters. What the governor of New York talks about matter, and how they talk about it matters.
You know, if you read the New York Times editorial from Nov. 4 of last year or David Shor’s article from October — I’m sorry, Ezra Klein’s article about David Shor — how we talk about things really matters in politics. It really matters as far as being leaders. And if it’s just the constant attacking, attacking, attacking, people are just going to shut down. They don’t even listen. They don’t even open up their minds.
And there’s a major educational gap that exists in America. Sixty percent of Americans, 66 percent of New Yorkers, do not graduate from college.Nearly 40 percent of Americans age 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree, a Pew analysis found. In New York City, about 40 percent in that age group have a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. They are not like the people in this room or on this call. And we have to start talking to them in language that they understand.
When Tom Suozzi is campaigning on crime and taxes and affordability, I’m trying to speak to the people about the issues that they care about. Ninety-one percent of New Yorkers say that crime is a serious or very serious issue. Sixty-eight percent of New Yorkers say that Kathy Hochul is failing on crime, failing on the economy. So she’s not even talking about the issues. And people say this is their No. 1 issue.
If you want to get the trust of the people and tell them that this extremism, extremism is happening and domestic terrorism is happening, they have to trust their leaders to speak to them about it. If it’s just me attacking Donald Trump every day and attacking the Republicans every day, I’m not — they’re not even going to listen to me. Because it’s the same old shit that they hear every day. Oh, I’m on the record. There we go again, Pat Healy.
Patrick Healy: Watch it. Got to watch it.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Nick?
Nick Fox: M.T.A. ridership has plummeted. M.T.A. revenue has plummeted. Federal funding has kept it afloat. That’s going to end soon. How do you increase ridership? How do you increase revenue? And how do you continue to make the improvements that need to be done after decades of neglect?
You have to reduce crime. People are afraid to take the subway. Crime must be reduced. The idea that a guy got shot on a Sunday morning, yesterday, on his way to work, is terrifying to people.
I was out campaigning all day in Queens on Saturday and the Bronx on Sunday. Everywhere I went, people were saying: The Democrats, you Democrats, you’re not doing anything about crime. People are afraid to take the subway. We have to reduce crime in the subway. People have to feel safe. Leaders have to be taking the subway and showing people that it’s safe. But right now, it’s not credible, because it’s not.
Eleanor Randolph: How do you make it safe?
You have to make it safe by giving the mayor what he’s asking for, which is to address the bail reform problem that we have in the state.
By doing my 15-point crime intervention and prevention plan, which goes everywhere from giving judges the discretion to consider dangerousness to red-flag laws to helping people who have mental health issues to doing prevention long term for the schools. That’s going to take a lot longer time to address. But it’s a [inaudible].
What I would do as the governor of New York State, if I was elected governor of New York State, maybe even if I won the primary, I could do this. If I tried to do it now, nobody would come. But if I was — won the Democratic primary, I’d have a meeting with 100 people in the room. I’d have the mayors, I’d have the police commissioners, I’d have the judiciary, I’d have the mental health experts, I’d have the legislative leaders, I’d have the parole and probation, I’d have education experts, I’d have community activists, and we’d have a 100-person meeting. And I’ve done these meetings my whole career.
And I’d say, “Listen, we’re all against crime. We all want to make the subways safe. Nobody’s for crime. Nobody’s for the subways not being safe.”
Some people say: Well, we have — the biggest focus has got to be protecting Black and brown people that have been treated so badly by the injustices of our systems. And other people are saying: Lock them up, lock them up, lock them up.
The answer is somewhere taking both of these ideas together and finding a comprehensive plan. And then the job of a leader is to go sell that plan, sell it to the public and then sell it to the legislature. And if the legislature won’t make a deal with you, then offer them something and say: I’ll give it to you if that.
And if that doesn’t work then do FixAlbany.com and defeat people who will not listen to what the people want and kick people out of office. So I’m referencing FixAlbany.com because when I was a county executive in Nassau County, Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno wouldn’t give us a cap on Medicaid. And it was killing the counties. It was killing the city in New York. It cost us hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
And I said, “I’m going to defeat a Democrat in the Assembly. I’m going to defeat a Republican in the State Senate until they start listening to us.” And I defeated the Democrat in the Assembly, defeated David Sidikman and Chuck Lavine, and I defeated Nancy Larraine Hoffmann up in the upstate and Syracuse area with David Valesky. And I became the president of the New York State County Executives Association. And Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno gave us what we were looking for. So I know how to push things over the finish line with politics.
Kathleen Kingsbury: I wanted to push back a little bit because I don’t think there’s anyone in this room that disagrees with you that crime is a major issue. Safety is a major issue in the New York City subway right now. But the subway issues run much deeper than that. It’s making sure the train runs on time —
So I was the New York City — I was at the N.Y.U. Rudin Center Person of the Year for when I was the chairman of the New York State — what’s it called now? N.Y.M.T.C., New York Metropolitan Transportation Council — I understand transportation issues, regional issues very, very well. I transformed how N.Y.M.T.C. worked [inaudible] the way it was before. Stupid bureaucracy, the politicians didn’t know what was going on.
But I got everybody to work together throughout the entire region on transportation when I was the county executive in Nassau County. In Congress, the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal, the only big bipartisan deal that has happened in Congress over the past many, many years was negotiated, the framework of it was negotiated by the Problem Solvers Caucus, of which I’m the vice chairman of. I went to a meeting down in Maryland with about 20 different members of Congress, about 10 different senators, a few governors. We laid out the framework for that $1.2 trillion deal. And that was, that was bipartisan.
Mitch McConnell voted for it. That guy doesn’t vote for anything, OK? He voted for it.
And then, you know as part of the subject of your editorial is how it got stuck with the Democrats fighting amongst themselves, and it didn’t happen until after the election, which killed us because we didn’t deal with it. So there’s going to be enormous amounts of money coming in for infrastructure, for the M.T.A., for mass transit that I fought for, as well as the rest of the New York delegation fought for to be included in there. So that’s a very important thing.
I believe in congestion pricing. I ran on congestion pricing in 2006, when I ran for governor against Eliot Spitzer. I got killed by it. It was before Bloomberg even talked about congestion pricing. I think that right now it should not be implemented within the next year or so. It’s just not going to be, anyway, because of the stupid bureaucracy you have to go through. But people are suffering so much right now from cost that it shouldn’t happen right now. But it should happen in, in about a year or so, assuming that things are better financially for people.
Nick Fox: Do you think New York State needs to change any sources of revenueThe M.T.A. is funded through a combination of fares, taxes and state aid. for the M.T.A.?
I think there should be a dedicated source of revenue. I’m not opposed to that. I don’t have the answer for you right now. I got 15 people working for me on my campaign. I got 15 people working in [inaudible] County. I have 20,000 people working for me in the government. I can give you a more detailed answer. But I think we should have a dedicated source of revenue.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Jyoti?
Jyoti Thottam: Yes, Congressman, we’ve talked about a lot of different issues, and I understand they’re interconnected, but if you were to take office as governor, what would you make your first priority on Day 1?
Crime. Crime is No. 1. Crime is No. 1. Taxes and affordability is No. 2. Helping our kids and troubled schools is No. 3, and corruption is No. 4.
I’ve said that since Day 1, and I challenge anybody to tell me what, Nancy with the — what’s her name? — Kathy Hochul’s priorities are regarding the State of New York. She’s been governor for eight months. You tell me. You’re The New York Times. You follow everything. You’re the smartest people in the world.
What is Kathy Hochul’s priorities for the New York State? What is her big focus? The Buffalo Bills deal? To-go drinks?In April, Ms. Hochul legalized to-go alcoholic drinks if they are purchased with food. The measure will last for three years; after that, state legislators can decide if they want to make it permanent.
Jyoti Thottam: So crime is your No. 1 priority, just to follow up on that. A lot of the issues that you pointed to around crime and public safety, they’re long-running issues. But clearly there’s a worsening of public safety just in the last couple of years. So are you saying that bail reform would be the thing that would improve —
No, I’m saying that would be a 15 — I have a 15-point plan that I would use as my outline, but I would have a comprehensive meeting and bring all the players together and develop a more fulsome plan based upon the outline that I have that goes from everything from giving judges the discretion to consider dangerousness to helping change Kendra’s Law — to give people ability to take mentally ill people who are not taking their medication and are a danger to themselves and others and get them the treatment that they need — to implementing the red-flag law to doing a thing called ShotSpottersShotSpotter is a gunshot detection system that uses surveillance and artificial technology. While police departments in a number of large cities in the country use the technology, its methodology and effectiveness have raised concerns among experts. and gun buyback programs to doing a more effective job with the interstate commission — to lobby for changes where there’s trafficking of guns going on throughout the region — to working on mental health to working on schools to — I mean, there’s no one answer to this. It’s a comprehensive plan that has to be done.
The difference is, is that I’m a proven executive. I’m trained as a C.P.A. and an attorney. I was the mayor of a small city for eight years. I learned how to run government. I did my 10,000 hours. I turned the place around. I got national awards for this little, small city. I became the county executive in Nassau County, one of the biggest counties in the country, bigger than 11 states, bigger than Bill Clinton’s budget was when he was governor of Arkansas, which he and I have joked about.
And I know how to run government, and I would build a comprehensive plan, working in conjunction with the mayor of New York City, who I have a pretty good relationship with, to try and accomplish a reduction in crime.
Nick Fox: You haven’t mentioned increasing the number of cops on the streets.
I would support increasing the number of cops on streets, and I would help to direct funding towards that.
Eleanor Randolph: Can you just talk —
And I would try to increase the amount of community policing that’s done. You know, we’ve, we’ve gotten away from community policing. Community policing, the concept of it is that the cops actually know the people in the community and the people in the community know the cops. And there’s a level of trust that exists between the two. There is very — that trust has been completely destroyed. And we have to rebuild that trust.
Nick Fox: Why do you think it’s been destroyed?
Because of abuses by cops that have been highly publicized by a marketing campaign against the cops. You know, some of it justified, a lot of it not justified. And because of — the cops are afraid of people, quite frankly.
Alex Kingsbury: Does it have anything to do with cops not living in the areas that they patrol?For the past half-century, police officers in New York have been allowed to live in the five boroughs of the city or in the suburban counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Orange.
I don’t know the answer to that.
Eleanor Randolph: You’ve talked about this a little bit, but what did you think about the relationship between Cuomo and de Blasio —
Eleanor Randolph: And, yeah, we can talk about Cuomo as well. But how would your relationship with Adams be? I know you said that he — you liked him, he wanted to give you a job. But give us a genuine assessment about how you think he’s doing and how you would be as governor, your relationship would be with him.
I’m excited about the idea of him being the mayor and me being the governor and us working together. I think that we would be a great team of people to work together. It would be a great symbol for people of us working together.
I think that you know as well as anybody at this table what happens in Albany, with the governor or with any elected official, is that they dangle things over your head so that they control you. They try and control you. They’re trying to control the mayor the way they try to control me as county executive, the way they’ve tried to control everybody. He wants mayoral control. The governor says she’s going to go for mayoral control, but they don’t give him mayoral control.
Eleanor Randolph: Do you think he should have control?
Absolutely should have mayoral control —
Eleanor Randolph: Permanently?
… No question about it —
Eleanor Randolph: Permanently?
Eleanor Randolph: Permanently?
I would like to see it permanently, but I’m willing to settle for less than permanently.
I believe that the chief executive should be accountable, and it would be better to have, you know — my whole thing about no wrong door and tying together education, health and human services. This comes from my experience as county executive. I ran health and human services, but I didn’t run the schools, so I couldn’t bring my health and human services into the schools without a lot of cajoling and begging and pleading.
But if you had a chief executive, like the mayor of New York City or another of the big five,The “big five” are New York State’s five largest cities: New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. where they have control of both, you could integrate these services much more effectively. There’s something else I want to say, and I forget now. The —
Eleanor Randolph: Would you —
Oh, so they try to control the mayor by not giving them what they want. So he wants bail reform. That’s, like, his big thing that he wants, to help with crime. But how come he hasn’t spoken out against the governor?
Because he loves what the mayor is doing to him? Because she’s sitting there at the press conference and said she was going to deal with mental health in the subways and she didn’t put the R.F.P. out for two weeks until Michelle Go is pushed in front of a subway station? Did a big press conference: We’re going to do mental health in the subways. Didn’t even put the R.F.P. out.On Jan. 6, more than a week before Michelle Go was pushed to her death in front of a moving train in the Times Square subway station, Ms. Hochul announced she would issue an immediate request for proposals to help support a subway safety plan. The request for proposals was released on Jan. 21, six days after the attack.
So I would help the mayor, as a person who understands what it’s like to be the chief executive of a local government, and other mayors throughout the state and county executives and help them to run their municipalities instead of just holding things over their head. This is a game that is played by the State Legislature and by the governors to try and control the local officials to stop them from campaigning against them.
And quite frankly, if the mayor couldn’t get what he wants and I couldn’t get what I want, which is pretty much the same as what he wants, I would try and persuade the mayor that he and I should team up together to clean out Albany. Because it’s a broken system. There’s no competition. The problem that exists in our country, in Congress, the problem that exists in the New York State Legislature, is everybody’s seat is safe. And when a seat is safe, they don’t listen to the people. The only way they can lose their seat is by losing a primary. And very few people, as we know, vote in the primaries. The far right votes in the Republican primaries, and the far left votes in the Democratic primaries. So the Democrats pander to the left, Republicans pander to the right, and nobody listens to what the people want in the middle.
If the people want you to do something about crime, how can it be that the government is not working on crime? How can it be the legislature is not — why isn’t there a hearing every day on this? It’s the No. 1 issue. How can that be? How can it be?
We have the highest taxes in the United States of America. We lost the SALT deduction.The SALT deduction, or the state and local tax deduction, allows taxpayers to deduct eligible state and local taxes on their federal returns. In 2017, Republicans passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which capped the deduction at $10,000 per year. People are leaving the state, despite what Mr. Appelbaum says. People are leaving the state in droves. Everybody knows somebody that moved to Florida, moved to North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Philly. How can it be that they’re not talking about this stuff?
Because they’re not afraid of the people. Democracy doesn’t work. People are dying in Ukraine for freedom and democracy. What is democracy? It’s politics. It’s supposed to be that the people get what they want from the elected officials and if they don’t get it, they kick them out. But they’re not afraid of getting kicked out. They don’t lose. Nobody loses.
So you need competition. You need people who are going to come in and say: We’re going to do what the people want. So I’m fighting for the people. I have a heart for the people, and I have the skills to get the job done. And I need The New York Times to help me win this race.
Nick Fox: You think you’d have a better shot at Hochul if you were running in a general election? Obviously if —
I’d have a great shot if she wasn’t the sitting governor. Could you imagine if Kathy Hochul was the lieutenant governor who just was running for office? She didn’t have access to this money that she’s raised. It’s an enormous amount of money. I mean, what is she running on?
All she’s got is a huge bunch of money that was given, that — in campaign fundsAs of late May, Ms. Hochul has reportedly raised a $31.7 million, largely from real estate and other special interests, including building trades, hospitals and labor unions. that she got from — $250,000 from every lobbyist, every cannabis provider, every nursing home, every developer, which has a huge pile of money. Then she’s got all this money that came from the federal government and all this money that came from Wall Street. She’s giving it away. She’s not dealing with [inaudible] we’re going to see a downturn in the economy.
Are we going to be prepared for a downturn in the economy? We already have the highest taxes in the United States of America. We have massive amounts of debt. We have spent Medicaid two and a half times the cost to the national average. We spend more per student than any state in the United States of America. Why aren’t we using this money to, like, fix this stuff, to be ready for the long term?
Instead, it’s this one over here, that one over there. Buffalo Bills, Kensington Expressway. I mean, it’s just — $350 million for Long Island legislators to get their votes, with no hearing? We don’t even know what the $350 million is for yet. Just to get their votes, you get $350 million. Wasn’t even part of her budget, wasn’t part of the State Senate budget. It wasn’t part of the Assembly budget. This is happening all over the place. That’s just the ones what we know about.
Mara Gay: We’ve got a lightning round for you.
Where is the lightning round? I still got all my stuff I wanted to share with you guys.
Kathleen Kingsbury: We still have 25 minutes.
Mara Gay: It’s just to break things up. It’s actually supposed to be fun.
Mara Gay: What’s the cost of a single subway or bus ride?
Mara Gay: $2.75. Under what circumstances are abortions allowed in New York past 24 weeks?
The life of the mother. Health of the mother.
Mara Gay: And also if the fetus is not viable, yes. What is the average cost of SUNY tuition, including room and board, for one year?
I don’t know. $12,000?
Mara Gay: $23,350.
Mara Gay: Where did you go on your last vacation?
Hmm. I don’t know. Florida? Florida?
Mara Gay: What’s the median sale price of a home in Rochester? A guesstimate is fine.
Mara Gay: 180,000. In White Plains?
Mara Gay: 730,000. In Staten Island?
Mara Gay: 640,000. What about the median rent in Brooklyn?
2,500? 3,000? 2,500! 2,500.
Mara Gay: It’s 2,998. And what was your favorite class in high school?
Math, probably. It’s very straightforward.
Mara Gay: Great. Thank you.
Kathleen Kingsbury: You’ve touched on, several times today, questions about the economy. As you mentioned, we are perhaps headed toward a downturn. What do you think the single most important thing to be doing right now, in terms of economic growth, is for the State of New York?
Lowering taxes. And I’m a Democrat. But that’s — we can’t survive. People are leaving. They’re just leaving.
I know that you’ve got — Mr. Appelbaum says the data doesn’t prove it, but I see it. I hear it every single day. You hear it every single day. People are leaving.
Kathleen Kingsbury: So not jobs? You’re not hearing —
We need that to create jobs. We need to — I believe that the biggest opportunity for New York State is north of Putnam and Rockland County. There is huge opportunity there.
I just was up in Buffalo the other day with the Bangladeshi community. I had a meeting with, like, 300 Bangladeshis. They left Queens. They bought foreclosed homes in Buffalo, and they’ve completely transformed neighborhoods.
I believe that there are huge opportunities to take the power and energy of the diversity of New York City and provide opportunities for people to move to different parts of the state to try and create centers, you know, tech centers. See, but right now, if you go north of Putnam and Rockland County, if you don’t have a college or a jail or a hospital or a major tourism destination, you’re dead. You can’t possibly make it. There’s no shot that you can make it.
We pass all these rules in New York from New York, that emanate from New York City. And New York City can take it because it’s the financial capital of the world. We have Wall Street. We have insurance. We’ve got real estate. We have tourism. We have entertainment. We can take it.
And the downstate suburbs, they’re feeding off of the mother ship. And we can take it, you know, except the property tax, but we can take it, for the most part.
You go upstate, you have all this oppression coming down on small businesses and on families and people who can’t afford to live here. They can’t take it. They’re crushed. It’s the poorest place. Spitzer said this is Appalachia. And he’s right.
Patrick Healy: Which taxes would you cut, and what would you give Democrats in the legislature to get a deal?
We’d have to cut property taxes by increasing state aid. We’ve been increasing state aid enormously. We should be tying increases in state aid to reduction in property taxes because the property taxes are regressive.
The first thing I would do, as far as property taxes, would be to give a break for senior citizens, people that are house rich and income poor. People on Long Island that moved there 50 years ago and bought their house for $50,000 and now they’re worth $700,000.
Or people that moved from Bedford-Stuyvesant. When I worked in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1986 at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Housing Project and the whole place was derelict and bombed out, people bought places for $10,000 or $20,000 or $30,000. Now they’re worth a million or $2 million, but they can’t afford to pay the property taxes because they’re house rich but they’re income poor.
Senior citizens on a fixed income shouldn’t have to pay above a certain percentage of their income in property taxes. It’s the most regressive thing.
Patrick Healy: You ran on property taxes before, though. It didn’t work. Why is it that New Yorkers —
Because I was running against Eliot Spitzer. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And he was the sheriff of Wall Street.
Patrick Healy: Right.
And he had an enormous amounts of money, and —
Patrick Healy: Why doesn’t it resonate, though? Like, in terms of going up against —
No, no. It did resonate. It resonated with Eliot Spitzer. He appointed me a year later as chairman of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, and David Paterson reappointed me as chairman of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. And I wrote the report as to why property taxes are so high in New York State and what we needed to do, which was a property tax cap, which we got outside of New York City.
We need an increase in state aid, and we need to do a circuit breaker. Fifteen years ago I wrote that report, and it’s still the same problem.
Patrick Healy: Can I just ask one other question on the economy, just about inflation. A lot of voters, a lot of people who might be attracted to Tom Suozzi just see themselves getting whacked in so many different ways on inflation. I mean, what is an idea that you, as governor, could execute on? Is there anything that doesn’t involve legislature?
I proposed a gas tax suspension back in January. And the only reason I — and listen, let me say it very clearly, OK? In Congress I’ve spoken out very strongly. I’m in favor of increasing taxes at the federal level. That’s increasing taxes at the federal level so that wherever you go in the country, you’ve got to pay more in taxes.
And I’d love to go back to revenue sharing, whereby you increase the taxes at the federal level and we get back the money that we sent you from, from New York so we can use the money to fix our own problems here in New York State. But I’m against increasing taxes at the state level because we’re pushing people out of New York State.
When I was 1,In the early 1960s, when Mr. Suozzi was 1, 43 House members represented New York State. The state’s population has increased since then, but other states have grown far more rapidly, which accounts for the reallocation of congressional seats. there were 45 members of Congress from New York State, based on our relative population. Today there’s 27 members of Congress. It’s going down to 26, and it’s going to keep on going down.
So I would only propose a gas tax holiday in the context of, No. 1, we’ve got all this money coming in for infrastructure. I said publicly, in Congress, many times, on Ways and Means, “I will vote for a gas tax increase in Washington for infrastructure.” I’ve said that publicly. Everybody [inaudible] talks about infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. We’re going to pay for it. I said, “I will vote for a [inaudible] tax increase.” Who else will do it? I knew we would do it, obviously. So I’m all in favor of increasing gas taxes at the federal level, increasing income taxes at the federal level.
But New York State is dying. We cannot go this — it’s climate change, OK?
I was a New York State environmentalist of the year for the League of Conservation Voters. Al Gore gave me awards for cleaning up polluted sites when I was mayor of little Glen Cove, for cleaning up Superfund sites and hazardous waste sites. I did all kinds of programs. I’m on the Green New Deal, OK? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and I are like this in a lot of things, but I’m with her on the Green New Deal.
I’m all for the federal government investing massive amounts of money in addressing climate change. But we can’t just do it in New York State by ourselves, because we do it by ourselves in New York State, our utility rates are going to continue to go up, and the people who can least afford to pay utility rates are the ones who hurt the most. They can’t afford to pay increased utility rates.
I do these telephone town halls, about 120,000 people, registered Democrats on telephone town halls. Every call is the same — crime, taxes and affordability, which is often utility rates. People can’t take it.
So we can’t do this stuff in New York where we push the businesses out of New York. They leave the Southern Tier, and they go to Pennsylvania. They’re continuing to do the same exact pollution they were doing when they were in New York. It’s still contributing to global warming. It’s still bad. But we lost the tax base in the jobs in the process.
Nick Fox: What services would you cut to compensate for the tax cuts?
No, they would not pay for themselves. Medicaid is the main thing you have to do. Two and a half times the cost of the national average. We spend more than Texas and Florida combined on Medicaid, even though Texas and Florida are both bigger than New York State. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this. This is a little bit longer, but I fought for the Medicaid cap. New York State’s the only state in the country that used to be 50 percent was paid by the feds, 25 percent by the state, 25 percent by the local governments.
I was out in Nassau County — it was the worst-run county in America — transforming it, technology, fighting with the unions, doing all this stuff to try and change things. And the cops support me now, just so you know, even though I used to fight with them about their pay out of Long Island. “It’s way too high,” I said. I’m doing all these things to try to reform.
I raised taxes 19 percent my first year as a county executive. I’m doing all this stuff to reform Nassau County, but my Medicare costs were going up 13 percent a year. I had no say over it whatsoever. So I did this thing, Fix Albany, where I said, “We’re going to defeat a Democratic Assembly, Republican State Senate, [inaudible] Democrats until you get us a Medicaid cap.”
I won the elections. I became the president of the County Executive Association, and I got a Medicaid cap of 3.5 percent a year. It then went down to 3 percent a year. When Cuomo came in, he reduced it as a big favor to the cities and the counties, the City of New York and the counties. He reduced it to zero. But now there’s no accountability whatsoever by the cities and counties.
New York City spends 90 percent of the money in the entire country on home health care aids, on long-term care.In 2020, Medicaid spending, which funds home care and long-term care programs, was roughly $5 billion in New York City, about 5 percent of the city’s budget. There’s so much fraud going on where people literally say: I’m going to send my parents to go to this adult day care facility. Nobody really goes to these adult day care facilities. Some people sign the paperwork saying that they’re there, then the provider gives them a kickback, but nobody actually goes.
It’s a cottage industry of fraud that’s taking place every day. And there’s historical fraud. It’s always been going on in the nursing homes. And so I have a bill in Congress to actually deal with long-term care, called the Wish Act, which is to take care of catastrophic care. So long-term health care insurance could actually be affordable for people again.
Mara Gay: Can we talk about your path to victory?
Yes. New York Times has to endorse me.
Mara Gay: What are you doing to build your winning coalition, and where are those voters, and who are they?
Long Island is very important to me. Westchester is very important to me.
Latinos are very important to me. Diana Reyna is my running mate. Twelve years as a city councilwoman in Brooklyn, four years as deputy borough president to Eric Adams, first Dominican woman elected in the history of New York State. When she’s elected lieutenant governor, she’d be the first Latina elected statewide in the history of New York. Freddy Ferrer, Fernando Ferrer is the chairman of our campaign. Latino voters are very concerned about crime. I’m working very hard to cultivate Latinos.
Muslims are very important. They’re a huge growing population. They never vote. I’ve been spending a lot of time going to iftars and different events and just giving attention to the community. There’s some African Americans, mainly Caribbeans, that I think I have a very good shot with.
So I got to do very well in Long Island, in Westchester. I’ve got to do better in Queens than the other boroughs. I’ve got to do better in Staten Island, but I haven’t really put much attention into it yet. And I got to well in the Bronx. I think that there are anti-crime voters all over the state that are looking for someone to actually just hear what they’re saying and do something about it. And so I’ve raised $8 million so far. I’ve got to raise about another $2 million. And if I raise $2 million and I get The New York Times endorsement, I can win the race.
Kathleen Kingsbury: You’ve been pretty critical of Governor Hochul in this meeting. What’s one thing you think she’s done well so far as governor? Is there anything?
She’s a very hard worker. She works very hard. I think that she lacks the executive experience to do this job. And I think she lacks the political experience to do the job. She’s good at politics, as far as, you know, making speeches and going to visit people. And as far as, you know, she’s getting a lot of groups to support her.
But as far as negotiating with the legislature, she got the Buffalo Bills. She did the whole process to get the Buffalo Bills. A billion dollars to keep the Buffalo Bills that nobody wanted. And she gave up everything for that. She’s giving the money to the Buffalo Bills so that they don’t leave. What does she do to stop the people from leaving New York State?
Eleanor Randolph: Wait —
I talk about the four Bs with the governor. I’m going to continue to be critical, I’m sorry, but: the Buffalo Bills, Brian Benjamin — her first decision that she made, blindly went into it.
There was all kinds of report about his ethical scandals that were going on. It came up again in November that he didn’t fill out his, his questionnaires properly about being subpoenaed, and she still continued to double down and then tripled down on him, even after he’d been called in by the F.B.I. a week before. It’s just gross mismanagement and, and bad judgment.
So Brian Benjamin, the Buffalo Bills, the budget — secretive, most secretive process ever, not addressing the long-term fiscal problems — and bail reform. But really, crime overall. Just not making it a priority.
Eleanor Randolph: I mean, to bounce off that —
Oh, just another thing. Can I say one more thing?
Eleanor Randolph: Of course.
So she has a 37 percent job approval rating. If you don’t want Lee Zeldin to become the governor of New York State, you should endorse Tom Suozzi for governor, because she could lose the race. I won’t lose to him. He can’t beat me on Long Island. He can’t beat me on crime and taxes.
But if you’re worried about the progressive agenda that we care about, if you’re worried about choice, if you’re worried about any of the things that we — that The Times cares about, she could lose the race.
Eleanor Randolph: So you haven’t said anything about Jumaane Williams. How would you feel if you split the vote with Hochul, and he actually got the primary?
I just don’t think that’s going to happen. He doesn’t — first off, he’s got a lot of volunteers and a lot of grass-roots support. And I have tremendous respect and admiration for him as a person. He does not have any money. And I don’t think that, unlike the previous race, we had Cynthia Nixon at the top of the ticket, which we had money and celebrity to, to run the race. I don’t think he has any chance of getting over 15 or 20 percent. So as a matter of fact, in my polling, his numbers actually went down from 14 percent down to 12 percent.
Kathleen Kingsbury: So assuming you win the primary, we’ve seen in several recent gubernatorial elections across the country that issues, curriculum issues like C.R.T. and book banning, etc., have become major issues. Are you concerned about those issues here in New York? But also, just more generally, if you look across the state, what would you change in terms of education? I know you’ve talked about bringing health and human services into schools, but is there anything else that you would want to do right away?
I’d like to move away from mandates to guidelines. And for school districts that — because I think the school districts spent an awful lot of time trying to comply with the rules. And the state spends a lot of time checking the boxes and filling out forms on a lot of the different rules. And if a school is performing well, based upon graduation rates, test scores, whatever we decide we want it to be, we should be giving teachers and administrators more freedom to run their schools.
And for those schools that are troubled schools, where the kids are failing and they don’t have a shot, you know, I’m very sensitive to this because in Nassau County, we have the best schools in the United States of America in different places. We’re also home to Hempstead and Roosevelt, which have left these kids behind for generations.
So we should be focusing our resources from the state level to help troubled school districts and leave the other school districts alone and let them just, you know, use guidelines. And if they’re performing well, leave them alone.
Patrick Healy: But is there a mandate you specifically dislike?
Yeah, but I’m not going to get into that.
Patrick Healy: Come on.
Eleanor Randolph: And curriculum?
Alex Kingsbury: Competitions encourage leadership, right?
Yeah, we’re not stupid, though. I’ll lead when I’m the governor.
Eleanor Randolph: So are there —
We have more mandates in New York State than any other state in the United States of America.
Patrick Healy: Yeah, you can pick one.
Eleanor Randolph: Curriculum mandates or no?
No. Really, special education mandates are really very, very onerous and ineffective. And these kids are getting left behind because of all these rules that are put in place that stop people with good hearts who are trying to do their job to help these kids, and they’re, they’re, this is —
Mara Gay: What do you think of the rules that govern religious schools? And do you think that they should be strengthened, as some advocates in ultra-Orthodox communities say their children aren’t being educated? Or do you that think we should just let those kids get the education that those schools —
You know, in the case of the yeshiva schools, for example, or even Catholic schools, you know, 99 percent of them are very good.
Mara Gay: And those who aren’t?
And those who aren’t, you should be calling them out and trying to send a task force in there to try and persuade them to change.
Mara Gay: That has not worked. What would you do to fix it?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know that it hasn’t worked. I don’t know if anybody’s effectively tried to do that.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Jyoti?
Jyoti Thottam: I just wanted to follow up. Since you raised this idea a few times that people are fleeing New York —
Jyoti Thottam: — because the taxes are too high. Do you have any data of your own to support that?
Just things that I read here and there. Eighty thousand people applied for a Florida driver’s license from New York State last year.More than 60,000 New Yorkers applied for a Florida driver’s license in 2021, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. We have 315,000 — we have the largest net out-migration of any state in the United States of America in 2021From mid-2020 to mid-2021, New York experienced a larger net domestic migration outflow than any other state relative to its size. According to the Empire Center, the state lost more than 300,000 residents, many of whom left New York City. This is part of a broader trend of people moving out of large metro areas and is largely consistent with prepandemic trends. — 314,000 person net out-migration, more than New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois and four smaller states combined.
We’ve gone from, as I said, it’s been going on for a long time, which Mr. Appelbaum likes to talk about all the time, but we went from 45 members of Congress down to 27 members of Congress. And it’s going down to 26 next year. So as far as what the cause is, I believe that SALT was a big factor. But I’ve abandoned that quest. And we have to reduce the taxes in New York State. And we have to improve the quality of life by addressing crime.
Kathleen Kingsbury: Greg?
Greg Bensinger: Hi. In another lifetime, I was a member of the campaign finance board. I’m curious what you think about these reports about your running mate and her obligations, her past obligations to the C.F.B.Diana Reyna reportedly owes the New York City Campaign Finance Board more than $138,000, stemming from a City Council campaign in 2009, when she spent less on qualified expenditures than she received through the city’s matching funds.
She’s got to pay the money back. She’s got to pay it back.
Greg Bensinger: Why is that not a concern when you picked her as a running mate?
Because of the fact that it’s not like she did something wrong. She was in a race against the machine, against Vito Lopez. And her treasurer quit in the middle of the campaign, and she’s always said that she will pay. If she’s elected, she’ll pay the money back. She doesn’t have the money otherwise, Greg.
I’ve proposed a couple of different things regarding campaign finance. I have a six-point government accountability plan, of which one is that the state limit should be reduced from what is now $67,000 for the statewide candidates. We should just adopt the federal rules of $2,900.
I’ve also suggested that we should have quarterly reporting requirements, because right now the last report was in January and the next one’s not due until the end of this month. I also believe in public finance. But I’m not campaigning on that.
In law school, I received the New York State Bar Association’s ethics award for the work that I did on the New York State Commission on Government Integrity, I think it was called, with the dean of my law school, Dean Ferrick, wrote that report, and I did the pro bono work working on that.
Kathleen Kingsbury: We’re just about out of time, but we haven’t actually talked about Covid yet. We’re still in the middle of what is right now an upswing in cases. What needs to be done in terms of looking ahead? What do you think the state needs to be doing in terms of trying to bring Covid under control —
The state needs to do it.
Kathleen Kingsbury: And help the public live with Covid from here on out.
Sorry, not that I want to be Johnny One Note, but I was very critical of the governor when we dealt with Covid before. Right after I announced, literally two days after I announced, my campaign staff was very mad at me.
I noticed that the cases had come from 3,400 to 6,800 cases. Now, what was it? I don’t know if they were reported cases. They seem like such small numbers now, but I can’t remember. The cases had doubled from the beginning of October, I mean from the beginning of November to the end of November. And it was right after Thanksgiving. I was like, wow, we’re about to go through a holiday surge. It’s got to be — you know, Omicron had just been reported, the first, No. 1 case.
I said we need a multifaceted, comprehensive plan to promote boosters, to promote vaccines, to encourage mask wearing, to have more testing sites. To do this thing, where you say this is a hot spot, you know, because with the Times report, which is very valuable that you guys do. But you know, at the time, it was like 15 percent infection rate in Buffalo, but it was only 2 percent rate, or 1½ percent rate in New York City. And we need to be flooding resources as far as marketing, especially, but also other resources for testing into places where the problems are particularly bad.
So I believe very strongly that mandates are such a toxic thing in our culture right now because of Trump and because of everything that the Republicans have done with this and some of the mismarketing by the Democrats that we really need to go out and sell this to people. We need to build.
I’m a very big believer in taking very disparate viewpoints and then trying to find a comprehensive solution that finds middle ground and then going out and selling it to the people. We should be having hospitals and doctors, which have these massive email lists — they should be sending it out to their patients, asking people to get their booster shots and educating people as to what to do. We should be having celebrities. It can’t [inaudible] Dr. Fauci and the C.D.C., and then you had, you know, Trump and the anti-vaxxers.
We need to have some trusted people that people are familiar with out selling the idea of vaccines and masks and the other stuff that people need to be doing. So it’s really a big marketing effort. It’s a leadership effort. It’s an idea of selling to the people what they need to be doing, because if we just try and mandate it, we’re going to have a further fracturing of our society.
Kathleen Kingsbury: We’re just about out of time. I wanted to end on asking you, what do you see as just your greatest accomplishment as a member of Congress? Just one.
I would say probably — I’m going to get in trouble now ’cause I haven’t thought about this. I would probably say the $1.2 trillion for the infrastructure deal. I helped to change the rules in Congress on getting bills on the floor. We had a big fight with Nancy Pelosi when she first got elected and won, and it actually made things much more open. I mean, I didn’t change the culture very much.
I dramatically increased the funding for the Long Island Sound by 5 — 900 percent to clean up the Long Island Sound. Got the money in to clean up the Bethpage bloom. It’s been there for 40 years. It was one of these comprehensive things, when I brought in the E.P.A., the D.E.C. They let local elected officials, the Army Corps, the commissioner — I got a whole list of things I’ve done, quite frankly.
Eleanor Randolph: Just one.
I can’t think of just one.
Nick Fox: Can I just ask one more, please?
Oh, the Congressional Gold Medal for the Harlem HellfightersIn 2021, Mr. Suozzi introduced legislation that awarded the Harlem Hellfighters, an African American infantry regiment in World War I, a Congressional Gold Medal. was a big deal.
Nick Fox: Can you mention any notable endorsements you’ve had?
The I.B.E.W. And my wife.
Kathleen Kingsbury: That seems like a good note to end on.