FLATBUSH – Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon and Council Member Jumaane Williams, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, spoke about their platforms and answered a few questions at Brooklyn College this afternoon.
Nixon and Williams announced their endorsement of each other at the end of July and have been campaigning with each other ever since. They were invited and endorsed by Young Progressives of America (YPA), Corrinne Greene, president of the YPA at Brooklyn College said.
“They embody what it is to be progressive,” Carlos Jesus Calzadilla-Palacio, the founder, and president of YPA said. “They’ve been championing issues that deeply affect young people such as immigration, public education, transportation, the environment, and so much more.”
The seventh-floor penthouse in Brooklyn College’s Student Center on Campus Road was filled with students and faculty members eager to meet the candidates. Students were encouraged to send in questions to Greene beforehand, but Nixon was only able to answer one before she had to leave.
“I love New York and I believe in New York,” Nixon said. “I’m a lifelong New Yorker… it’s the state where I had my 40-year long career, it’s where I’m raising my kids, and where I met and married the love of my life, my wife Christine.”
Nixon acknowledged she voted for Governor Cuomo eight years ago, but she wouldn’t do that now.
“I remembered his dad. I believed he was a Democrat the way he said he was,” she said. “But since taking office, he has governed like a Republican and handed over massive amounts of power to the Republican party.”
She then spoke about her vision for NY, and received massive cheers and applause from the room when she promised to fix the subway. “I’m on the subway every day. Andrew Cuomo is not on the subway unless it’s a photo op.”
Other issues she spoke about were fully finding schools, ending the school-to-prison pipeline, a Medicare-for-all system in NY, and legalizing marijuana.
“We need to end cash bail in New York,” she said. “We can’t have one system of justice for Harvey Weinstein and another for Kalief Browder.”
Williams, a two-times Brooklyn College graduate, first expressed his surprise when he saw a lot of students in the room and no food. Everyone laughed and Calzadilla-Palacio pointed to the empty pizza boxes in the back of the room.
“A lot of people talk about my activism. I think the NY Times called me the agitator or troublemaker,” Williams said. “I’m an activist and I thank Brooklyn College for giving me that grounding.”
When he was a student, he ran for president of student government and lost by two percent. “That will not happen again,” he said.
“I’m running for Lieutenant Governor because I know that not every Republican is a bigot, but every bigot voted for Donald Trump,” he said. “I’m running because I honestly believe any blue just won’t do.”
He also gave a shoutout to the current Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul by saying, “The current Lieutenant Governor said the job is to be the eyes and ears of the Governor, to do what the Governor says. I reject that out of hand.”
“I want to be the eyes and ears of the people of New York,” he said. “I want to be the people’s Lieutenant Governor.”
He spoke about the importance of identity politics and said, “I always make sure I end by saying I don’t necessarily want folks to vote for me just because I’m black. And I always say I don’t want to lose those votes so I’ll take them.”
A staff member at the Department of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies asked about diversity and fringe benefits (an extra benefit supplementing an employee’s salary), saying, “There’s a lot of talk about diversity and inclusivity and equity, but actions do not follow those words.”
“What we’ve seen with Governor Cuomo with his defunding of major institutions, whether you’re talking about the NYC subway, or CUNY or SUNY systems, they’re terrible planning for the future,” Nixon said. She referenced her education platform on her website, and said, “I’m calling for much greater investment in SUNY and CUNY.”
“We need to bring CUNY and SUNY faculty up to a more livable standard,” she said. “We have such an incredibly diverse student body here and it’s important to fund those departments that are teaching black and Latinx subjects.”
Williams called the Excelsior Scholarship a “sham” and said there’s a lot that can be done with the over $20 billion budget.
“I’m here [on campus] pretty often,” he said. “I work out in the gym three times a week. I’m still very much a part of the Brooklyn College family. It’s important to me that CUNY and SUNY are adequately funded.”
After the hour was up, Williams stayed for a few more questions and photos and Nixon shouted, “September 13, don’t forget!”