As the campaign for governor enters its final weeks focused on crime and abortion rights, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s official schedule has been a lot more nuts-and-bolts.
The Democratic incumbent over the last several days has made appearances touting infrastructure improvements around the state, from $80.1 million for new paving on the Long Island Expressway to $50 million for affordable housing in the Bronx. The paving announcement made on Thursday on Long Island near the home district of her Republican rival, Rep. Lee Zeldin, was meant to highlight the broader statewide push to spend $1 billion to fix potholes across New York announced at the start of the year.
She framed her focus on the issue as a consumer concern.
“The average New Yorker spends $632 because of road damage a year on their vehicles, money that they’ll never get back,” Hochul said. “So, as our families and our motors are getting hit with rising costs, we decided it’s time to turn our potholes into not-holes. So since I took office, we’ve awarded $1.3 billion in capital work across the state of approving over 3,100 miles. And that impact is over $2.3 billion.”
It just happens Hochul is touting this effort on Long Island, which is also expected to play a key swing role in the upcoming general election.
Hochul is seeking a full term this year in a campaign that has largely centered around her pledge to preserve abortion rights in New York as well as support for gun laws. Both planks in her platform have expanded in prominence following the overturning of Roe v. Wade this year and a devastating shooting in Buffalo at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
But the infrastructure has not gone unnoticed, either.
“There is no greater investment than an investment in our infrastructure,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Not only has the Long Island Expressway resurfacing project been completed, it has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget. I would like to thank Gov. Kathy Hochul for her continued efforts to improve the quality of life for all Long Islanders, and that includes those who use the LIE each day who will now have a much smoother trip.”
Her office has touted additional efforts this week, including money for a wastewater treatment plant in Buffalo.
New York’s infrastructure has struggled to keep pace over the years, with calls from local officials to spend billions of dollars on roads, bridges and sewers in order to keep pace with wear and tear.
New York politicians highlighting their support for infrastructure – usually a bipartisan, crowd-friendly topic – is not unusual. Republican former Sen. Al D’Amato was derided by critics as “Senator Pothole” for his focus on closing street craters.
This year, voters will consider a $4.2 billion bond act to shore up environmental infrastructure in the state, a borrowing plan that if approved would also expand electric vehicle charging stations while also girding waterways against flooding.
Zeldin, for his part, has barely wavered from the public safety calls. He’s received dozens of endorsements from police and law enforcement unions over the last several months. This week, he was backed by the Warwick Police Benevolent Association.
“Zeldin and his running mate Alison Esposito are running a campaign to restore law and order to the state of New York. They plan to reinstate power to law enforcement officers and the court system so that criminals can be held accountable for their actions in an appropriate manner,” said David Serviss, President of the Warwick Police Benevolent Association.
Zeldin has pledged to declare a crime emergency and suspend the enforcement of a suite of criminal justice law changes made in recent years to cash bail, solitary confinement and juvenile justice.
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