Cuomo Campaigns at Cornell University

April 19, 2002
By Marc Zawel
Sun News Editor

Andrew Cuomo, New York state gubernatorial candidate, spoke to a crowd of Cornell students and local supporters yesterday afternoon at the A.D. White House.

Cuomo was at Cornell on day three of his four-day, twelve-city Announcement Tour, which covers much of upstate New York.

“This room is filled to the brim with supporters, but this is only a fraction of Andy’s support at Cornell,” said Jason Conn ’03, director of Cornell Students for Cuomo, in his introductory remarks. “There is a lot of support and excitement here. Andrew inspires us and makes us believe that public service is the most honorable profession,” he added.

Prof. Ronald Ehrenbeg, labor economics, echoed Conn’s remarks.

“I am delighted to introduce Andrew Cuomo because of his strong concern with education,” Ehrenberg said.

Cuomo began his speech by addressing students in the audience.

“You see the world differently. You are more willing to take risks. You should be involved and bring your energy to politics and public service,” he said.

“Politics and government is about energy,” Cuomo said. “It takes energy to change the system and willingness to take risks. Your involvement is key because you relate to a world in ways that even I don’t,” Cuomo added.

Cuomo then stressed how his age allowed him to relate better to the needs of students.

“At 44, I’m relatively young. That’s the way I see the world,” he said.

Cuomo also commented on how his platform and campaign would differ from ordinary politics.

“Normal politics is not working in New York. Does anyone know or care about what they are arguing about in Albany?” he questioned. “My campaign will be fun; our politics have failed and we need a change,” he said.

In addressing the economy of upstate New York, Cuomo drew on statistics hypothetically showing upstate New York as a separate state from New York City. Without New York City, upstate New York would have the slowest economy in the United States, according to Cuomo.

“It would be the 51st state,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also stated that upstate New York would also be tied for last with West Virginia for population growth.

Cuomo also addressed the issue of education.

“Public education makes the American experiment work,” he said. “If you improve yourself, society will be enhanced.” Cuomo then presented three proposals to help fix the current education system.

First, Cuomo proposed creating the New York Parental Education Leave Act, modeled on the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act. The act would encourage parents to take a proactive role in the education of their children by allowing them to take up to 16 hours of unpaid leave each year to attend parent-teacher conferences or other school-related activities.

Cuomo also proposed replacing failing schools as soon as possible. Under the current system, it takes an average of nine years for a failing school to be closed down. Cuomo proposed immediate intervention and closure within two years at which time, “the school must close and be reconstituted,” Cuomo said. “It’s wrong to sacrifice a child on the alter of bureaucracy,” he added.

Cuomo then offered not to accept a salary after March 31 each year unless, and until, the State budget was passed and signed.

“The budget will not be late,” Cuomo said. “If it is late, I will forgo my salary. If I don’t get the budget done, don’t pay me,” he said.

Cuomo concluded by appealing to voters to “take the risk,” he said. “Take the risk. I’m going to fix the problems. If I can’t perform, fire me and find someone who will,” Cuomo said.

Recent polls have shown Cuomo, who has never run for office in New York state before, and McCall, twice elected comptroller, in a close heat for the Democratic nomination. The same polls have shown Pataki well ahead of both democrats.

Michael Moschella ’02, president of the Cornell Democrats, was outside of the A.D. White House holding “McCall for Governor” placards.

“Cuomo is a better candidate than Pataki, but McCall is more qualified that Cuomo,” he said. “McCall has been fighting for students for a long time and is just a more qualified candidate,” he added.

Russell Miness ’02 disagreed.

“Carl McCall represents the old state government. Cuomo can bring a fresh face,” he said. “I felt Cuomo used statistics well. Upstate New York is facing a crisis and Andrew Cuomo knows what needs to be done,” he added.

“The question is, which candidate will help New York state?” asked David Chipurnoi ’00. “Andrew Cuomo is simply a better choice,” he said.

The New York state Democrat primary election between Andrew Cuomo and State Comptroller H. Carl McCall will take place on Tuesday, Sept.11.

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