By COLlive & NY Daily News
In a public event on Ellis Island, Andrew Cuomo was sworn in for his third term as the 56th Governor of New York State with some seeing his inaugural address as a node to the presidential elections in 2020.
Cuomo pledged to propose progressive agenda to the state legislature that delivers voting reform, strengthens gun laws, protects health care, legalizes marijuana, and reforms the criminal justice system.
“Let New York say that the federal government may shut itself down but it will never extinguish the Statue of Liberty’s torch or erase the words of her poem, they will never close our harbor, they will never close our hearts, and they will never close this hall of dreamers or disrespect the legacy they left,” he said.
“It is New York’s duty, it is New York’s destiny, once again, to bring the light that leads the way through the darkness. To show the nation the way forward and upward. And we will,” Cuomo said. “That is my pledge to the people of the State of New York, and we begin today.”
The New York Daily News pointed out how Cuomo spent much of the 29-minute speech outlining the ills of President Donald Trump‘s America and promising New York will lead the way in turning it around with a progressive social agenda.
The location and the theme are sure to have some suggesting it was a step toward a 2020 presidential run, despite Cuomo repeatedly insisting in recent months that he will serve out a full four-year third term as governor, the newspaper wrote.
Among the many present were Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York; and Crown Heights activists Devorah Halberstam, Chanina Sperlin, Eli Cohen and Jacob Goldstein.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Rabbi of Park East Synagogue, gave the invocation.
Letitia James, the state attorney general and the first black woman to hold statewide office in New York history, spoke before Governor Cuomo.
Also in attendance were Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, NY City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Karim Camara – Deputy Commissioner for the Governor, Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project, members of the court, and other elected officials.
Sperlin, who serves as Executive Vice President for Governmental Affairs for the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council (CHJCC), was seen speaking with Cuomo during the evening.
“I spoke to him about the alcohol abuse program that we used to have in Crown Heights and lost funding for from the state,” Sperlin told COLlive.com about the conversation.
“It was cut back among general funding changes. I explained to him that the YAM program helped boys and girls ages 15 to 18 in our community. They were either in or out of school, are good kids but were dealing with substance abuse. The program kept them together.”
Sperlin said the governor listened attentively and responded that “we should come visit him and he will review the details. We plan to follow up on this right away.”