by Diana Gilday
With the election of 2020 still being in everyone’s minds, the New York State Senate majority leader and the head of the NYS election committee discussed what comes next.
“The thing that I would ask for, for you all, is to understand that you know we can't change every bad thing that's happened in the world like in two days,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “But with your help, we can make a big difference and improve a lot for everyone.”
Stewart-Cousins broke many milestones when she became the majority leader in January 2019, after the Democrats won the Senate majority in the 2018 elections. Because of this, she is aware of how important the election of Kamala Harris as Vice President is.
“Being the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as the leader of a conference in the state’s, 244-year history is something that I don't take for granted,” said Stewart-Cousins. “The implications of this national election where we see a woman of color, the first black, first Asian first woman who actually gets to be the Vice President should be, again, the awakening for all of us to just pursue our dreams to believe that you can get there from here.”
Besides having the election’s historic implications, people are now looking towards the future and for change. One question in regards to was what comes next in helping businesses recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have to balance our budget, and we must have the revenues in order to offset the expenses, otherwise we have to either raise revenues, make cuts etc.,” said Stewart-Cousins. “So my hope is that with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, that at least we don't have adversaries, we have allies who understand the important role that state government plays, and that there will be some bailout.”
Stewart-Cousins was also asked about students’ interests being addressed by government officials going forth.
“I for one have never discounted your power and your importance,” said Stewart-Cousins. “That's why I show up in places like this every chance I get. We hear you. And that's why we passed the pre-registration of 16 and 17 years-olds because we don't want you to even have to think about it. We want you to be ready to go. The policies that you're talking about have a national flavor, you know, whether it's tuition or loan forgiveness and so that takes federal partners, and I am happy at least that we have partners that are willing to talk about the issues.”
Besides Stewart-Cousins, Senator Zellnor Myrie, who represents District 20 and is the head of the NYS elections committee, answered questions regarding the 2020 election. One question that was raised was how to accommodate the increase in voter turnout.
“I walked around during election day and went to the different post sites that are usually jam-packed and they were empty,” said Myrie. “It was surreal to see it, but that was only because early voting had relieved some of that stress and I think we can apply that even to the early voting period. Let's get more sites, and let's loosen up the lines… Once you're inside it’s pretty quick. But to get there, particularly during a social distance period is too much and I’m hoping that we can have a hearing like the Leader said, look at some places where we can alleviate the stresses, and hopefully have some shorter lines.”
Myrie was also asked about ways young people can educate themselves about issues and politicians, so they are better prepared to vote.
“It's actually not difficult to find who your local representatives are and what they do. It just takes some time,” said Myrie. “It does require some effort and I think we should be making it as easy as possible, but it does require sort of two-way communication so if you guys have ideas about how we can engage young folks more… how important it is for elected officials locally to be engaged on these issues, find your issue. Whatever that is, maybe climate change, and maybe police accountability and maybe something completely different maybe housing and maybe elections, and I guarantee you that there is a local official that has a role to play on that issue so you know I put that out there and encourage everyone to dive right in.”