For close to 25 years — from the late 1960s through the early 1990s — I was proud to have worked with some of the finest Democratic officials that New York state and New York City have ever known.
It was my great pleasure to have joined Mayor Ed Koch in helping stabilize the city’s economic condition after the fiscal crisis in the mid-1970s, to have assisted Gov. Hugh Carey in investigating corruption in the nursing-home industry and the state government and to have worked with Gov. Mario Cuomo, a dear personal family friend, whose moral and ethical leadership set the standard for New York leadership.
Throughout those 25 years, it was my sense that we — New York Democrats — were able to accomplish an extraordinary amount vis-à-vis stabilizing our state’s finances, fighting crime and strengthening the criminal-justice system. We were also able to — when it manifested itself — root out corruption in state government and attack the challenges facing our state in a systematic way, frequently on a bipartisan basis.
Unfortunately, that has all changed.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers have left the state, taking billions of dollars in tax revenue with them, putting our state at risk of a fiscal crisis.
Just as serious, and even more visible, there’s demonstrable evidence of the rise in violent crime every day, as well as the absolute failure of law enforcement in our city and state to do anything about it.
Put directly, despite the best efforts of Mayor Eric Adams (whom I supported), the Legislature and a number of prosecutors — including but not limited to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg — have created a turnstile justice system that’s been singularly responsible for an unprecedented increase in violent crime over the last few years.
We must do something about this.
The outrageous taxation and anti-business policies Hochul and Democrats in the Legislature imposed have led to the mass exodus of the state’s wealthy residents — and in turn, for this impending economic catastrophe.
Zeldin has pledged to work to make New York more affordable every day by enacting sweeping tax cuts, ending job-killing regulations, fostering a job-friendly environment, including well-paid energy jobs, and eliminating wasteful spending, among other priorities. This is exactly what New York needs to revitalize our weakening economy.
It’s not just the high cost of living that’s driving New Yorkers from the state — residents also feel unsafe amid rampant violent crime. This threat to public safety is directly attributable to Democrats’ sweeping police-budget cuts and reckless bail-reform policies, which allow dangerous criminals to go free.
Instead of addressing this issue head-on as violent crime terrorizes our state and city, Hochul has decided to kick the issue down the road until after November’s election.
On the other hand, Lee Zeldin — who has personal experience dealing with assault and then seeing the perpetrator released the very next day — has a plan to end this disastrous revolving-door-justice system.
Zeldin has pledged to repeal Democrats’ disastrous cashless-bail policy, give judges more discretion in setting bail, increase penalties for certain crimes and hire more police officers statewide. He’s also vowed to fire district attorneys who show a pattern of letting violent and dangerous criminals go free.
Just as important as his approach to economic revitalization and crime reduction, Zeldin is committed to ending the corrupt culture in our state government, which has sadly become the signature marker of the two most recent Democratic administrations.
Zeldin supports establishing term limits, overhauling the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and working to bring accountability and transparency back to state government — something New York desperately needs.
Ultimately, it’s clear that Lee Zeldin is the only candidate tough enough — remember he was in the famed 82nd Airborne — to save New York from complete and total ruin. And that’s why he has my vote.
Andrew Stein is a former New York City Council president and state Assembly member.