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Williams, Hochul differ on Lieutenant Governor's role


New York's lieutenant governor can seem like an odd seat to fight for, but there have been several Democratic and Republican primaries for it since 1990.

The lieutenant governor can deliver tie-breaking votes in the State Senate, but otherwise doesn't have many chances to act on – and take credit for – things that voters care about. The position can elevate a politician's profile and voice, but otherwise it doesn't offer much a chance to build a record.

And more often than not, the LG is basically a diplomat or a champion for the governor's policies and initiatives.

That's clearly not the vision that New York City Council member Jumaane Williams has for the job; if Cuomo's reelected, he'd likely challenge him to act on issues, as opposed to campaigning for the governor's agenda. He's challenging the incumbent LG, Kathy Hochul, in a Democratic primary.

"We need to hold elected officials accountable and ensure that state government is always working in the best interest of the people who need it the most, not the wealthy corporation and the politicians," Williams says on his website. "As lieutenant governor, I will push our state to lead from the front on progressive issues, be a voice for the most vulnerable in our state, and promote equality and justice for all."

He wants to use the LG position as a platform to talk about progressive reforms in criminal justice, education, women's equality, LGBTQ equality, voting rights, and housing. He also wants to push for the legalization of marijuana.

Jumaane Williams - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Jumaane Williams

Williams is campaigning on a ticket with gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, who's challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary. Williams and Nixon each carry the Working Families Party line, so even if they lose their respective Democratic primaries, they'll appear on the November ballot.

Hochul has a long background in Democratic politics, which she emphasizes in her campaign. She was a Hamburg Town Board member, Erie County clerk, and she was elected to the House of Representatives during a special election in a Republican-leaning district, before losing that seat in a general election to now-embattled Republican Chris Collins. She was elected lieutenant governor in 2014.

As LG, she's served as Cuomo's liaison to the state's Regional Economic Development Councils. She also chaired the Governor's Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction.

Kathy Hochul. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Kathy Hochul.

She's traveled around the state to advocate for reproductive rights, including the Reproductive Health Act, legislation that would modernize state abortion laws, move them out of the penal code and into health law, and ensure that they provide for the rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade.

Hochul also campaigned for the state's $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, as well as a program that made SUNY and CUNY schools tuition-free for New York residents. She has advocated for equal pay for women and supports prohibiting employers from asking about a person's salary history.