By Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Marc Molinaro
Excerpted Marc Molinaro’s acceptance speech at the NYS GOP convention.
Many years ago, a man far better than I, who also stood before this convention, spoke 13 words that we, as a party, have sadly forgotten.
“Nobody cares how much you know,” Teddy Roosevelt said, “until they know how much you care.”
Humility is something I learned as a boy. It’s hard not to feel it when the cereal you shovel into your mouth before school is paid for with food stamps. When you listen to your single mom, in her early 30s, whispering into the phone with the electric company, in hopes you won’t hear, asking for the lights to be kept on — until the money from babysitting comes in … from another working mom struggling with her bills.
Life growing up was real. There was divorce and abandonment — patches on the huskie Wrangler jeans — but there was mostly faith and love, and it prevailed. We believed in ourselves and in one another. We believed in our neighbors. And most importantly, we believed in tomorrow, and still do.
I share my childhood because I refuse to cede compassion to the Democratic or Working Families Party, or to anyone falsely claiming its mantle.
Watching special interests spend millions of dollars on television ads in New York year after year — money other people earned — to attack elected leaders for not spending or taxing enough never ceases to amaze me. I wonder if they realize what five or ten extra dollars a week can mean to a single mom or father trying make rent or fix the truck. They claim to be compassionate, but they have no idea how hard it is to live in the most overtaxed state in America.
If taxing and spending were the best way to lift families out of poverty, we’d have the best government in the country — and I wouldn’t be running for governor. Overtaxing and overspending is a dream killer. A job depriver. It robs working people of the ability to save.
There must be a strong safety net. But Albany will not be a cash-cow for the rich-and-powerful any longer. We will not be an ATM for out-of-touch politicians anymore. Not for the big money donors; not for politicians looking to dole out billion-dollar political favors. Not when I’m governor.
Government will have priorities again: people in need and things we use, like subways and bridges, streets and sidewalks, clean drinking water and treatment plants to stop pollutants. Government will live within its means when I’m governor because government living within its means is compassionate to those trying to live within their own. Working- and middle-class families can’t afford to pay for the political ambitions of individuals any longer. Our priority will be the people, not a governor seated atop the heap plotting to run for president, trading billions in government contracts for millions in campaign dollars.
A former New York governor addressed this point for those looking to run for office: ‘Decide exactly what you want to achieve,’ he said some years ago. ‘Do you want to help people, or do you want to be powerful?’
What Mario Cuomo was saying, was that one should seek public office to do good, not to feed one’s ego or career needs. Bullies and megalomaniacs need not apply.
In 1995, I was elected mayor of Tivoli, population 1,300, at age 19. It made me the youngest mayor in America. The outgoing mayor Ed Neese asked me to run. So, I ran home and asked my mom if it would be okay I run for mayor. (She said yes, right after you clean your room!)
I wasn’t elected because of my good looks or political affiliation (we ran without party labels); I was elected because I was Marc, the kid at the deli people liked, people trusted.
Since day one, I’ve had a clear and simple governing philosophy do what works best. Fix what’s broken. When you make a mistake, admit it. Make it right. That’s it.
My job as governor will be delivering affordable and accountable government, not preaching a sermon or issuing edicts for television coverage.
I have no interest in ideology for ideology sake. That doesn’t solve problems, people do. Its results I’m after. I think it’s why people from all backgrounds and viewpoints keep electing me as county legislator, state assemblyman, and now county executive. It’s proved, to me at least, that good government is the best politics. People know when you have their interests in mind. They can tell. They know when you’re getting the job done.
Would I have what it takes to actually do what needs to be done to transform New York to set it free from the powerful, the privileged and return it to the people? Could we, together, do what’s necessary to harness New York’s true human and economic potential, for job providers, and families, young and old. Not only in the five boroughs, but on the Island and in the Hudson Valley, in Central New York, the North Country, Western New York, and in every corner of the state.
The answer for me is ‘yes.’ Emphatically yes. We have to:
- For our children and our neighbors’ children;
- For grandparents watching grandkids grow up on a computer screen;
- For immigrants working three part-time jobs to keep the lights on;
- So kids can see a future in learning and hard work;
- So those living with addiction and mental illness know the value of their own lives;
- For parents stuck in a cycle of poverty whose knees ache from praying;
- For people in homes that needed a new coat of paint five years ago;
- For New Yorkers ready to flee to Florida, Texas, or the Carolinas;
- People working 60-hour weeks in the city paying 60 percent of their income on rent;
- 10th generation New Yorkers who did everything right and still can’t make ends meet;
- For the family farmer overburdened, over regulated, and undervalued.
These are my friends and yours. They are you and I ultimately. When are we going to break the chains of self-interested government? When are we going to free ourselves from the humiliating corruption in Albany that taxes not only our wallets but our spirit? When have we had enough? It has to be now.
In the coming weeks I’ll lay out a bold property tax cut for New York that defenders of the status quo will despise. We’re going to finally cut loose the anchor holding down upstate, throw off the burden on the backs of families and homeowners…
Sales tax revenue will grow, under our vision, as families have money to finally repaint that home; as new homes are built and businesses move in. All those upstate college students. They’ll be able to stay in New York and put down roots. It’s been too long since that’s happened. Today they get an education and flee south or west — and with them their innovation, talent, and potential.
We’re going to find massive savings, and they’re there. ($3.5 billion per mile for east side access — 7 times the average elsewhere in the world)…We will modernize an outmoded state government to achieve efficiencies, and we will eliminate the waste, fraud, and abuse that is stealing from our taxpayers…
I’m going to ask you to believe in yourselves, to believe in New York again and believing in New York starts with believing the courageous women who come forward, in Albany or anywhere else in the state, to speak out against abusers. The days of sexual harassment, assaults, and hush money payouts must end.
We will move New York government into the 21st-century zero-based budgeting from day one, no agency gets a dime until it can show we are getting what we pay for. If an agency is just pushing around papers, it’s a former agency. If a commission hasn’t met and merely occupies space. I’m shutting it down. If it’s an agency that’s working well, task force meeting its goals, or program achieving its outcomes, it will be emulated.
We’re going to tap into the ingenuity of state workers and the genius of Silicon Alley and our upstate tech communities to streamline service delivery for those in need, making services less expensive and more effective. We’re going to do it systematically and in every department of state government…We have to be compassionate. We must put the New Yorkers paying the bills first.
To break the constant consumption of power and end the lack of accountability, I will demand a vote on term limits. Our government is stale and our people deserve new energy and new ideas. We need to bring passion back to government and revitalize democracy in New York.
And, I personally commit by pledging right now, before you and these cameras, that I will limit myself as governor to two terms, if you’ll have me. Eight years total.
Andrew Cuomo is already running for a 12th year on the job unless he resigns to run for president. So I’ll challenge Cynthia Nixon today to join me in this self-imposed term limits pledge. I challenge her to go on camera and do the same. And I bet she will.
To combat corruption and end the pay-to-play schemes infecting our government I will immediately empanel a real Moreland Commission to follow the corruption, uncover the crimes, and bring offenders to justice.
We’ll adopt a universal ethics code and establish a truly independent ethics commission to enforce it, and we will empower an open government, public information watchdog.
We’ll also seek to expand the freedom of information law to include all branches, all divisions, and all agencies of state government. And, we’ll end no-bid contracts and restore the State Comptroller’s independent procurement oversight, and fully implement a database of deals so the press and public knows how their money is being spent and who is awarded contracts.
In the months ahead, as I campaign across this great state with Julie Killian and others, I’m going to lay out details of the revolution to come in New York: In public education; in affordable healthcare; in disability services showing New York what it means to think differently; in housing, in public transit and, in environmental protection too.
G-d gave us a beautiful but temperamental planet. We must take better care of it preserving our natural resources, scenic vistas, and active farmland; improving our parks and protecting our water and fully cleaning up our majestic Hudson River.
I’ll be talking with you about re-empowering communities wherever possible returning power from Albany to our towns, villages, cities, and school districts. This governor believes he alone can solve our problems; he believes he is the government. I believe in you in our shared capacity to solve any problem and overcome any challenge.
Are you ready to believe in our state again?