Caribbean American Legislator Declares Candidacy for NY Lieutenant Governor

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“I want to be the people’s advocate in Albany,” says City Council Member Jumaane Williams

By Nelson A. King / CMC

NEW YORK – A Caribbean American legislator has declared his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor for New York State, the second highest position in the state.

New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, made the announcement at a rally in lower Manhattan on Friday, attended by elected officials, activists and community members.

“Today, I am proud to announce that I am running to become the Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York,” said Williams, representative for the predominantly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

“The Lieutenant Governor position needs to be more than ribbon-cutting and rubber-stamping.

“I want to be the people’s advocate in Albany [the state capital], pushing the governor and the Legislature to enact the progressive policies that are the promise of our state.

“I want to represent the diverse needs of the people of our state, and by the way, our state government could use some diversity.”

Williams, a Democrat, who is currently serving his third term in the New York City Council, announced last month that he would explore a run for the position. Since then, he has visited a number of cities around the state, meeting with local activists and progressive organizations.

Williams cited “the energy and response” that he has seen around the state as one of the reasons for his decision to formally enter the race.

Williams represents a challenge to the present administration from the left; he has long been a critic of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The outspoken councilman said “put on a progressive cloak when it is politically expedient and test the political winds rather than acting on core beliefs.”

By declaring his candidacy, Williams said the state “needs people who will help to create those political winds.

“Since I announced a month ago, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that I was considering this effort, I’ve received an outpouring of support, both here in the city and across the state – from activists, elected officials and everyday New Yorkers – yearning for progressive change,” he said.

“Now I know that this race will be challenging, but I’ve never been one who backs down from a challenge. In fact, I seem to go looking for them.

“I believe that no matter who the governor is, we’re going to need a person who will be the people’s Lieutenant Governor, always pushing forward. And I believe that I am that person.”

A number of Caribbean American elected officials and others endorsed Williams’s candidacy.

“I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Jumaane Williams for years, fighting for justice, inclusion, equity and more on behalf of the people of Brooklyn,” said New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants.

“His voice, his advocacy and his determination are what we need leading throughout New York State, and I am proud to endorse him as our next Lieutenant Governor,” said Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn.

New York State Senator Kevin Parker, representative for the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said “there are few people in government that are as fearless, or as effective, in working on behalf of the people of New York than Jumaane Williams.

“I’ve seen that passion as I’ve worked beside him to take on many issues in his time as a council member,” Parker said. “And I’m excited by the prospect of working with him as Lieutenant Governor in Albany.

“I’m excited to continue to work with him on issues of public safety, fighting discrimination, protecting our environment and more,” he added.

Last month, Williams visited three cities in Central and Western New York – Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse – as part of his listening-tour.

His visits to diverse areas of the state were part of his process in speaking with New Yorkers from all backgrounds, “discussing the kind of issues that are impacting their lives, how helpful and responsive is our state government to their needs, while gauging the appetite for new progressive leadership in Albany.”

“It was incredible to feel the progressive energy across the state, at stop after stop,” said Williams of his trip. “People are energized by the prospect of finding progressive solutions to the problems that we all face together, upstate and downstate alike.

“Everyone wants affordable, sustainable housing, better jobs, safer communities, and quality education.

It was a privilege to discuss how we can all achieve these goals together.”

In his eight years on the New York City Council, Williams said he has been “a fierce advocate for affordable housing and tenant protections.”

Referring to himself as an “activist elected official,” Williams said he has passed an “exceptionally large amount of legislation, including landmark legislation in police reform and worker safety, and helped to create anti-gun violence programmes, which have led New York City to its lowest crime rates in decades.”

In New York State, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in the primary election, with the winners of each party’s nomination forming a joint ticket for the general election.

Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul has indicated that she plans to run for re-election. – CMC

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