PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDEN – Cynthia Nixon endorsed Council Member Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor and Williams endorsed Nixon for the next Governor of New York yesterday.
“Cynthia is the leader we need right now,” Williams said. “She’s been a fighter and I have been a fighter. That’s what the people of New York want to see.”
On a hot summer Sunday afternoon, supporters of Nixon and Williams gathered outside the Lincoln Road and Ocean Avenue entrance in Prospect Park. Supporters were getting ready to canvas around the neighborhood, but not before hearing Nixon and Williams speak. Both candidates were all smiles and laughter.
“It’s time. Let’s go!” Williams led a chant before addressing the crowd.
“I was giving a speech in the NFL building long before I even thought about lieutenant governor,” Williams said, “and I remember saying ‘Andrew Cuomo, we’re coming for you, too. You’re not the answer to Donald Trump.’ And it turns out I kept my word pretty well.”
Williams, currently representing the 45th City Council district, announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor at the end of February. He is an activist, going on trial tomorrow for charges related to his arrest trying to stop the deportation of immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir.
Nixon is a strong progressive candidate running against the incumbent Andrew Cuomo to be the next Governor of New York. Though the candidates run on separate tickets in the primaries (mark your calendars for Thursday – not Tuesday – September 13) Williams and Nixon announced their full-fledged support for each other.
“Jumaane and I share a vision of NY. We share a vision of the catastrophe of the ever expanding inequality crisis: economic inequality, racial inequality, [and] gender inequality that is threatening our very democracy,” Nixon said. “We share a vision of this problem and we share a vision of the solutions and we share a belief in the possibility that we can reclaim NY for all of its people.”
“We need someone like Jumaane not just in NYC, we need him Albany!”
Funding schools and not jails is a stance both Williams and Nixon are very passionate about. It is the first thing on Nixon’s issues platform on her website. As Governor, Nixon plans to provide underfunded schools adequate funding, expand diversity among teachers, and make sure specialized high schools aren’t segregated.
“We have two systems of education. One [is a] system in which wealthy, white children are given every advantage, every resource to receive a sound basic education that will help them succeed, help them enter college,” Nixon said. “We have another system of education where far too many of our black and browns students attend schools that are unforgivingly underfunded.”
Children shouldn’t be criminalized and referred to the cops either, Nixon said.
“We have allowed and even caused our students of color to be exposed to the criminal justice system at such an early age for behavior that’s normal childhood behavior, normal adolescent behavior,” she said. “We are criminalizing our young people not just out on the streets, but in our schools and that has to end.”
“[Cynthia] has been an activist in education for a very long time when it wasn’t a popular issue to be discussing,” Williams said, wholeheartedly supporting Nixon’s every platform.
Both Nixon and Williams didn’t shy away from taking jabs at Cuomo or Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “If the Governor believed in everything he said, he would support me too. But he doesn’t, so he won’t,” Williams said.
According to Williams, the word “leadership” shouldn’t be ascribed to Cuomo; he’s more of a follower, Williams says.
“This Governor, as far as I’m concerned, has provided leadership on no issue at all. He waits until it is safe, usually because activists like us have made it safe to discuss, and then acts,” Williams said. “We have a lieutenant governor who believes the job is to follow. So, we have a person who is following the followship of the follower.”
In 2012, Hochul received the endorsement and an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). During her time as an Erie county clerk, she streamlined the gun permit applications. She also opposed former Governor Elliot Spitzer when he proposed drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants in NY.
“We don’t need a Lieutenant Governor who said they would turn people over for applying for a drivers license if they didn’t have documentation; the same driver’s license that got Pablo the Pizzaman and two grandparents detained because they didn’t have the proper ID,” Williams said.
The first day that she is Governor, Nixon promises that she will expand access to drivers licenses for all undocumented immigrants.
“[Jumaane] has been a voice for decades on ending gun violence. This is the kind of person we need as Lieutenant Governor,” Nixon said. “We need to make NY a real sanctuary state not just rhetorically. We need to do it with policy. We need to expand access to drivers licenses for all our undocumented community.”
“Kathy Hochul says she has changed her mind on this issue, but if she has, I challenge her to call publically on Andrew Cuomo to expand access to drivers licenses for all our undocumented people.”
Criminal justice reform is also a huge platform for both Nixon and Williams. Nixon told the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old black man from the Bronx. Browder spent three years in Rikers Island awaiting trial without ever being committed for a crime. He had been accused of stealing a backpack. During Rikers, he faced physical abuse and was placed in solitary confinement. When he was finally released, he took his own life.
“This year, Andrew Cuomo touted that he was going to… ensure rights to a speedy trial here in NYS. But he did not,” Nixon said. “Not only did he not pass it, he did not make it a priority. When Jumaane and I are elected, we will not only ensure a right to a speedy trial… we will end cash bail.”
“With Donald Trump in the White House we have a greater motivation and a greater possibility than ever before in my lifetime to combat not only the right-wing politics, not only to fight for our people here in NY,” Nixon said. “But to ensure that we elect… better Democrats.”
“I’m proud that in this day and age there’s going to be the first woman Governor from the LGBT community, combined with a Lieutenant Governor who is a black son of immigrants with Tourettes Syndrome from Brooklyn,” Williams said. “Those voices are severely under attack.”
“The Governor has never seen a black leader he didn’t feel he had to regulate, and a woman leader he didn’t feel he had to subordinate.”