This week, I traveled to Albany for Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address. It was a rewarding experience for two reasons.
First, it offered a chance to see many friends and colleagues in State government. A striking number of New York’s leaders are Westchester residents, and our region’s influence in Albany is only growing. David Buchwald and Steve Otis are both newly elected to the Assembly. George Latimer won a tough race in November and now sits in the Senate. And long-standing representatives like Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Jeff Klein have assumed much more significant roles in the current session. (Of course, the man of the hour — Andrew Cuomo — is also a Westchester resident, as are many of his chief aides.)More importantly, Governor Cuomo’s presentation was a vivid reminder that leadership matters. He offered serious, practical, and necessary new gun legislation, an increase in the minimum wage, and a forward-looking approach to alternative energy and greenhouse gas reduction. Cuomo is moving aggressively to invigorate the state’s economy and to better link our intellectual resources with entrepreneurial innovation. He offered bold suggestions for improving public education. And the Governor made a powerful appeal for gender equality, calling for a comprehensive push to erase barriers that continue to limit opportunities for women.
Reasonable people can disagree about specifics, but few would deny that the Governor has completely transformed the culture of Albany during the past two years. For those who believe that public service can improve lives and strengthen communities, it is encouraging to see a leader prepared to use every tool in order to effect positive change. Cuomo has proven that New York is governable, and that ambitious goals can be pursued successfully.
The far-reaching agenda presented this week in Albany presents a stark and dispiriting contrast with the complete lack of an agenda here in Westchester. Trapped by an ideological mindset that reflexively opposes public action, Rob Astorino and his team have simply washed their hands of any responsibility to offer forward-looking solutions to our regional challenges: energizing the economy, preparing for the future, and creating opportunities for all residents to succeed.
The capacity to act brings with it the duty to act. Governor Cuomo is making the most of his leadership position. We need to hold our leaders in Westchester to the same high standard.