Democratic candidates for NY governor on crime, the economy and more

Democratic candidates vying for governor have just a few days left to convince voters before the official primary day on June 28. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Tom Suozzi, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are all competing for the democratic ticket, and this year there are two main issues driving voters: Public safety and the economy. 

In a recent Siena College poll, 92% of voters said that crime is a serious problem across the state and many are looking to their leaders to fix it.

Hochul, who is seeking a full term in office this year, says her focus is delivering on the resources needed.

"It’s about letting them see the presence," Hochul explained. "We have people on the streets, law enforcement is doing their job, and making sure that we get the guns off the streets."

But public safety is more than just cops on the streets, according to Suozzi.

"Bail reform," Suozzi said emphatically outside Penn station. "We need to give judges the discretion to consider dangerousness. New Yorkers are afraid of taking the subway. They're afraid of coming through Penn Station. So we have got to make people feel safer and we have to address the crime problem."

There is no evidence linking bail reform to a rise in crime but many have claimed it is responsible.

The law has been revised twice since first passing in 2019, with Hochul spearheading the most recent changes.

Now, she says, it’s important to see how the revisions are working.

"Let's see if the reforms we put in place are starting to make a difference," Hochul said. "That is what I want to do."

Hochul's other opponent, Williams, has pushed back against any changes to bail reform and has insisted the emphasis should be on community prevention programs.

Williams blasted Hochul’s recent budget deal to build a new Buffalo Bills Stadium at a significant cost to taxpayers.

"When we asked the government to put a billion dollars aside for gun violence prevention, user services, victim services, we didn't get it," Williams said. "What we got was a billion dollars for a stadium outside of Buffalo."

While crime might get voters out the door, it’s not the only issue they are considering at the ballot box.

Inflation has skyrocketed to its highest level since 1981 and from gas to rent prices, New York City’s affordability is shrinking.

Suozzi says boosting the city’s economy starts with lowering taxes.

"We have to reduce taxes because people can't afford to live here," Suozzi said. "We have the highest state and local taxes in America and we lost the state and local tax deduction."

Hochul on the other hand is not looking to cut taxes, nor is she considering raising the minimum wage.

However, she says she is working to make sure taxes stay at the same level while also pointing to the suspension of the gas tax, middle-class tax cuts, and investments in childcare as proof of her commitment to revitalizing the state’s economy.

"Part of it is getting the access for people to have the good-paying jobs being created every day," Hochul explained. "That's how you build a middle class. You invest in their education, you give them the skills they need, you bring the jobs and you connect them."

Williams says affordability starts with being able to pay your rent, pointing to his housing plan, and says he is focused on creating a state where small businesses can thrive.

"And quite frankly, those mid-level, small businesses, mom-and-pop stores, are more likely to hire people from their neighborhoods than those big businesses that have been getting this funding and not providing what we need," Williams said. 

Early voting already kicked off last Saturday. Voters have just 6 days left to vote in the primary for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, U.S. Senate, and state Assembly races. 

The primary for congressional and state Senate seats is on August 23.