Ex-Governor Pataki steps into gubernatorial race during Schenectady visit | Local News

SCHENECTADY — Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin has an opportunity to attract swing and Democratic voters in the November election due to his stance on criminal justice reforms and growing concerns about public safety, a said former New York Governor George Pataki on Tuesday.

Zeldin, a congressman from Long Island, spoke out against criminal justice forms approved by the Democratic-controlled state legislature in 2019, arguing that the changes are responsible for an increase in violent crime and have made less secure New Yorkers. He also criticized Democrats, including Governor Kathy Hochul, for failing to protect New Yorkers and pledged to try to repeal the changes if elected.

“Crime is not a partisan issue,” Pataki said. “It’s something that touches you. More importantly, it affects people living in low-income communities who are most often victims of violent crime. Certainly, Democratic voters will take a look and say, “I don’t want that.” »

Pataki, a Republican who served three terms as governor from 1995 to 2006, weighed in on the November election during a brief stop in Schenectady, where he toured the downtown development 24 years after signing legislation that created the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which many see as the catalyst that sparked downtown redevelopment.

He also shared his thoughts on Monday’s FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida resort, calling on the US Department of Justice to release additional information about what happened. motivated the search, and raised concerns that the raid might have been politically motivated.

“I’m shocked by this,” he said. “Either they have clear evidence that a very serious crime, such as treason, has been committed, in which case it is a proper act. Or, it troubles me greatly that the Department of Justice has become an operation politics with a double standard depending on your party We don’t know yet.

Asked by a reporter if he sees comparisons to Zeldin’s campaign and his own in 1994 against former Governor Mario Cuomo, Pataki said the two campaigns were similar, noting that public safety was a cornerstone of his campaign. , which included a platform for tougher sentences for violent criminals and the reinstatement of the death penalty amid some of the nation’s worst crime rates at the time.

Pataki said the state is headed in the wrong direction on crime and he fears that if state lawmakers abandon criminal justice reforms, New York will become one of the most violent in the country.

“Crime is out of control and not just in New York but in other parts of the state as well. To me, this is so disappointing because the most important thing the government does is keep citizens safe, and New York State is failing,” he said.

The former governor’s remarks align with public opinion polls released in recent months that have found crime and public safety to be the top issues for voters ahead of this year’s election.

Last week, a poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute found that Hochul had a 14-point lead over Zeldin, 53% to 39% among likely voters.

“Fourteen weeks is a long time in politics, and we know that most voters don’t really start focusing on the election until after Labor Day,” Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said in a statement. “Still, Hochul has an early lead – but certainly not insurmountable.”

The changes to the state’s criminal justice law have been under constant attack from Republicans, law enforcement officials and even some moderate Democrats since they were first approved in 2019.

The changes included the end of cash bail for certain non-violent misdemeanors and crimes and changes to the discovery process aimed at speeding up the process of turning over evidence, which supporters say creates a fairer system.

But the law has since been amended twice, in 2020 and 2022, to expand bailable crimes and to give judges more discretion in some cases.

Several prominent Democrats in recent days, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Albany County Attorney David Soares, have called on the Legislature to hold a special session to further change the law. Soares also called for changes to a law that raised the crime age to 18 in New York.

The renewed push comes amid a rise in violent crime that has swept the nation, including New York.

Violent crime, including murder and rape, in New York increased 7.9% between 2021 and 2020, from 70,708 incidents statewide in 2020 to 76,229 in 2021, data shows. compiled by the State Criminal Justice Services Division.

Violent crime was mostly down in the state since 2012, when 79,301 violent incidents were reported.

But Democratic lawmakers, including Hochul, said changes were made to the law earlier this year and judges were given enough resources as a result to ensure public safety.

But Patiki said he disagreed.

“You see Mayor Adams saying Albany let us down. I think it shows the city can’t do it alone,” he said. “Other communities in the state cannot do it alone. We need to fundamentally change Albany’s crime laws.

Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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