By Adam Sackowitz
It was heralded as New York’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and a St. John’s University graduate had the opportunity to change it for the better. The St. John’s graduate was Hugh Carey, who was elected governor of New York in 1974.
Carey inherited a New York City, which was $5 billion in debt, and state agencies, municipalities, and school districts which were on the brink of insolvency. In 1975, the newly elected governor would warn New Yorkers “that the days of wine and roses are over.”
In his tenure as governor, which lasted for two terms between 1975-1982, Carey made the necessary and difficult decisions to get New York back on track.
Matt Schudel of The New York Time wrote on Carey’s death in 2011 that “Mr. Carey maneuvered the state through a series of tough choices that led to increased taxes, reduced government services and lower state and city budgets, but he managed to keep the city and state afloat.”
The late Mayor Koch would also credit Carey with rescuing New York City, “He saved the city and the state in 1975,” Koch told The Times in 1982. “If the city had gone down, the state would have been two days behind. He did it by bringing together the best minds and making everyone work together.”
A World War II Veteran who received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from St. John’s in 1942 and 1951, Carey is not memorialized on campus. I call on the St. John’s University president to allocate $35,000 for a bust of Hugh Carey and an art piece to be displayed on campus.
Governor Carey was someone who brought all New Yorkers together, was admired both by Democrats and Republicans and shared the values of St. John’s University as a devout Catholic, and the father of 14 children. It is time for St. John’s University to honor Gov. Carey.
Adam Sackowitz is a graduate student at St. John’s University studying history and a member of the College Republicans.