By Adam Kramer
The event last Thursday drew more than 100 Democrats from northeast and southeast Queens to Temple Sholom at 263-10 Union Turnpike in Glen Oaks, including state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside); borough president candidates Carol Gresser, City Councilwoman Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway); and several city council candidates.
McCall said the state needs to have strong education, health care, energy and environmental policies, which are laid out through the political process.
“In two weeks I will offer a plan to have a Democrat representing Democrats up in the State House,” he said, alluding to his plans to run for governor in 2002.
Andrew Cuomo, the outgoing secretary of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency is the other big name Democrat to hint that he hopes to unseat Republican Gov. George Pataki, who will seek his third term in 2002.
“We have some big things coming up next year,” McCall told the crowd from the Queens County Line Democratic Association, the United for Progress Democratic Club and the Eastern Queens Democratic Club at the Democratic Line's monthly meeting.
“There is the city council election, the race for mayor in New York City and in 2002 you get to elect a governor,” he said. “Pataki is a nice guy, but he does not provide leadership. He makes promises, but does not deliver.”
McCall has been the state comptroller since 1993 and is the only black to hold statewide office. Before he was elected comptroller in 1993, he served as president of the city Board of Education, state senator representing Upper Manhattan, ambassador to the United Nations and a vice president of Citicorp, the parent of Citibank.
“We need to have educational equality, economic development which provides opportunities for everyone, create jobs, talk about the environment and focus on health care,” McCall said. “We have some real challenges.”
He told the crowd that what happened in Florida in the presidential race between Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush was “an assault,” which drew a loud round of cheers and applause from members of three Democratic organizations covering a large swath of Queens stretching from Queens Village to Bellerose and Cambria Heights to Hollis and Bayside to Glen Oaks. The clubs also represent Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Little Neck, Douglaston, Hollis Hills and St. Albans.
McCall said the problems in the Florida election ranged from votes not being counted to people being denied the right to vote, especially of blacks, by the Republican machine.
“African-American voter turnout was up 10 to 15 percent – they saw this coming,” McCall said. “Pataki went and stood with the Republicans in Florida, and in New York they have tried to keep people off the ballot. They do not believe in the electoral process.”
McCall called for the federal government to provide matching funds to the states to improve the voting process. He said if we have ATMs, which can be controlled with the touch of a finger, the same should technology should be used for voting machines.
“Only 50 percent of the eligible people voted. Even in the Third World 90 percent of the population vote,” he said. “We need to do something.”