VOTE 2018 — Editorial Board Endorsements

EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENTS

Four More Years Of Cuomo

Governing a state as diverse and complicated as New York forces any executive to make hundreds of difficult decisions, some of which will, over time, alienate and upset the electorate. A good leader figures out what needs to be done, even if it is unpopular, and what should be done because it is popular. During the past eight years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made more good decisions than bad. He has been fiscally responsible. He’s invested in necessary infrastructure improvements. He’s championed human rights, passing marriage equality. He’s also done far more than most other politicians to try to combat climate change — though we feel he could still do more on this issue. Where Cuomo has failed the residents of Queens has been in allowing the subway system to decline. The trains are a vital artery of life in the borough and serve as the first impression of the city for millions of tourists. Cuomo also has not been aggressive enough in making the borough affordable for the working class. If there were another candidate in the race we felt could do more to address these issues, we’d consider endorsing him/her. But that is not the case. Cuomo is the best choice for governor for Queens residents. We just hope he will spend his third term improving subway service and making living in the borough a little bit more affordable.

DiNapoli Deserves Your Vote

For more than a decade, Democrat Tom DiNapoli has served the state of New York responsibly as comptroller, growing the pension fund and effectively auditing agencies to keep them honest. His challengers have suggested the office could be used to do more to wield political influence. However, we believe DiNapoli has struck the perfect balance between promoting New Yorkers’ priorities with the influence of the pension fund, and remembering that the role of the office is to secure the futures of millions of retirees and be a check on the bureaucracy of state government. We enthusiastically back Tom DiNapoli for four more years as comptroller.

Tish James For Attorney General

New York City Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James fended off several challengers to win the Democratic nomination for attorney general in September. The Queens Tribune backed her opponent Leecia Eve in the primary, in part because we felt Eve was best equipped to challenge the Trump administration’s harmful policies with regard to New York. In the general election, James is now the person who will do the best job, making sure the values and beliefs the majority of New Yorkers hold are not compromised by the federal government. We enthusiastically back James for attorney general, and urge voters to back her too.

Send Gillibrand Back To D.C.

Over the past eight years, Kirsten Gillibrand has been a fierce fighter for New York, strategically picking her causes and putting her efforts towards actually getting legislation passed that will improve people’s lives. Her list of accomplishments is not long or glitzy, in part because she has been in the minority for most of her time in D.C. But Gillibrand has been able to come through for New York when it matters, doing the hard work necessary in the Chamber, and standing up for the state’s principles and values as a passionate and credible voice of opposition when necessary.

Back The Democrats In The State Senate

When making endorsements, the most important factor our editorial board considers is which candidates will do the best job for their constituents. In general, we feel that the person is more important than the party when it comes to stacking government with the best and brightest. Unfortunately, the state Senate has reached a point where electing a unified Democratic party is necessary for Queens to get its fair share of education funding, environmental policies that will protect us from the threat of climate change, and investment into our subway system. The state Senate GOP has also failed the borough on too many occasions, failing to renew speed-camera legislation and completely ignoring the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) — a bill that would provide members of the LGBTQ community the same human rights and protections that all other New Yorkers have. There are qualified Republicans running for the state Senate in the borough, but this year we encourage you to vote for the following Democratic nominees. It’s the best hope for an inclusive and progressive future for the borough.

SD11: John Liu; SD13: Jessica Ramos; SD15: Toby Ann Stavisky; SD16: Joe Addabbo

  • The other Democratic state senators are running unopposed.

Let The Women’s Equality Party Die

Voters will see this ballot line once again this year. Our hope is that it will be the last time. This party line was created by Gov. Cuomo four years ago for political purposes, and has been a mockery for its entire existence. It has done nothing to promote equality for women, and has instead just served as a confusing waste of ink on the millions of ballots printed around the state.

The party’s existence was questionable from the start. Gov. Cuomo set it up in 2014 to create a new ballot line for himself and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, and it succeeded in getting more than 50,000 votes — a threshold that allows a party to exist for four years on the ballot. During the past four years, the party has done nothing to promote women or women candidates for office. The only logical conclusion that can be drawn is that this was a political stunt by Gov. Cuomo that just needs to go away.

We encourage all Queens voters to back their candidates of choice on one of the other ballot lines they are running on. And we especially urge you to vote for Gov. Cuomo on one of the other ballot lines, so this party can die.

Flip The Ballot

The three questions on the back of the ballot next week are important. They could shape the future of the city’s political institutions for years to come, which is why it is important for voters to take some time to consider them. Since we know you are busy, we want to give you our quick takeaway on the proposals.

QUESTION 1: This would expand the current campaign finance system that is in place. Supporters of the system say the matching dollars for small donations help take the influence of corporate money out of politics — which is why this proposal would bolster the system, making it easier for people to run for office. Its goal is to increase participation, which we think it likely will do. Opponents will argue that taxpayer money shouldn’t be spent on political campaigns. This initiative could lead to more waste and fraud, because it will flow public funds to candidates earlier in the process, before they are even guaranteed a spot on the ballot. Ultimately, this proposal just tweaks the current system, likely with more positive effects than negative ones. If you already support the idea of public funding of campaigns, you should vote “yes.”

QUESTION 2: This would create a Civic Engagement Commission with a goal of getting more people invested in government. On the face of it, this is a worthy goal. But the practical implementation of this could get messy. The mayor would appoint eight of the 15 members to this new commission, including the chair, who would be a controlling force in running the commission. If implemented, it is not unfathomable that a future mayor could stack these commissions with his supporters and task them to use the body’s power either to promote the mayor’s policies or to work to subvert community boards instead of assisting them — even though the Charter Revision Commission (CRC) has thought of this and tried to put in safety measures to prevent it from happening. In the voter guide distributed by the city, the first reason listed to vote “no” on this measure is: “It would create a new, redundant bureaucratic office.” We tend to think this is a reasonable concern that slightly outweighs the potential good that could come from passing the plan. We advise you to vote “no,” but hope the CRC continues to work on developing a Civic Engagement Commission that will indeed help increase participation.

QUESTION 3: Increasing diversity on community boards is necessary. This question would, we hope, do that by changing the application and appointment process for existing community boards, specifically by putting more of the onus on borough presidents to seek out people of diverse backgrounds for appointments. THIS IS GREAT! But there two major problems with this question. First, it includes term limits for the community board, which means thoughtful citizens who are dedicated to the well-being of their community, willing to sacrifice their time, and knowledgeable about complicated land-use issues would just be kicked to the curb for two years. (They could then be reappointed to the board for another eight years.) The other big problem with this question is that it is tied to the idea that Question 2 will pass, and therefore there will be a Civic Engagement Commission that can train any new community board members on land-use issues. What if Question 2 doesn’t pass and Question 3 does? Do we then kick out community board members and have no real training for the new members? Like Question 2, this is a well-intentioned solution to the serious problem of lack of diversity on the community boards, but we are not convinced it will solve the problem and we are concerned it will create more chaos. We suggest you vote “no” on Question 3.