Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Suozzi on Thursday criticized a proposal by Gov. Kathy Hochul for accessory dwelling units in New York. Hochul, meanwhile, locked down more endorsements from prominent labor unions in the state.
Here's a roundup of today's campaign news in New York:
Suozzi blasts housing proposal
This month, Gov. Kathy Hochul's State of the State included a provision that would require municipal governments to allow for at least one accessory dwelling unit in an owner-occupied zoned lot. The effort, in large part, is meant to boost affordable housing and loosen land restrictions in the process. Her briefing book framed the proposal as a way for multi-generational families to have affordable housing options and live closer together
But Rep. Tom Suozzi on Thursday criticized the measure as an encroachment on local land use decisions.
"I don't believe in taking away zoning control from local governments," Suozzi said during a virtual news conference with local officials from Long Island.
Such a move would be state officials "imposing their will on local governments."
"This proposal that's being made would actually end single family housing in New York state," he said.
Proponents of the bill argued it's a necessary move that would address an increasing lack of affordable housing in the state.
“Legalizing accessory dwelling units will not only help solve New York’s housing crisis, it will provide middle-class homeowners with a new opportunity for income, and create safer living conditions for thousands of New Yorkers," said Assemblyman Harvey Epstein and Sen. Peter Harckham in a joint statement. "It’s not often that a legislative idea gets support as broad as this one does, encompassing everyone from builders and planners to environmentalists, as well as affordable housing and business interest groups, and that's because there are tangible benefits for each different constituency, and all New York communities.”
Suozzi, a Long Island representative, is expanding his policy critique of Hochul to housing after staking out a push to change New York's cash bail laws to empower judges to remand a person to jail if they are considered too dangerous after being charged with a crime.
So what would a Gov. Suozzi do for housing? He supports efforts to combat homelessness and backs "transit-oriented development" in the state.
Hochul gets CSEA, AFL-CIO endorsements
Two prominent labor unions in New York this week endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul's election to a full term.
Hochul has the backing of the Civil Service Employees Association, New York's largest public workers union, as well as the New York State AFL-CIO.
“CSEA proudly throws our support behind Kathy Hochul for Governor. We’re convinced she’s the right leader to improve the lives of all New Yorkers,” CSEA President Mary Sullivan said. “From the day she stepped up to lead, Governor Hochul has recognized the value that public employees bring to all New Yorkers. She understands the incredible sacrifice and dedication of the union members working on the front lines who have gotten us through these very difficult times, and has demonstrated a commitment to working with us to recognize them. She has an empathy we’ve not seen before, and she can work across party lines to unite people. We are confident we can work with her as partners for better government.”
The AFL-CIO in New York, meanwhile, also endorsed Hochul this week and released a video in support of her as well.
“She has supported safety and health protections, as well as worker rights bills, and has come through with aid to help union members who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic," said President Mario Cilento. “Governor Hochul is exactly the leader we need to move our state forward. The New York State AFL-CIO will be educating, engaging and mobilizing our 2.5 million members from now through election day to ensure a victory for Kathy Hochul."
The umbrella labor group also on Thursday endorsed the rest of the Democratic slate running this year: Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin.
Zeldin accuses Democrats of trying to 'hijack' redistricting
The Democratic-led houses of the state Legislature could vote as early as next week on a set of maps outlining new legislative and congressional boundaries drawn by lawmakers themselves -- a development that comes after a commission devised as a reform a decade ago failed to reach an agreement.
Top Democrats have pledged to release fair maps. But Republican gubernatorial hopeful Lee Zeldin accused the other side of the aisle of what amounts to a power grab.
"Albany Democrats have made it clear from the beginning they have no intention of allowing the constitutionally required independent commission to deliver a map that best serves New Yorkers," Zeldin said. "Despite New Yorkers voting overwhelmingly this past November against politicizing the redistricting process like this, Democrats have been hell bent on undermining the commission and putting the power to draw the lines back in their hands."
The change approved to the redistricting process came when Zeldin was still in the state Senate and was one championed by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid public pressure to remove it from the Legislature. Republicans and Democrats like in Albany have used the redistricting pen to maxmimize their advantages come election time.