ALBANY – In an exclusive interview with WNYNewsNow, Republican Minority Assembly Leader Brian M. Kolb expressed his concerns for all New Yorkers as he announced he is set to challenge for the Republican nomination for New York Governor in hope of ousting Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pundits say will be a front-runner for president in 2020.
Kolb, who has been minority leader since 2009 and a legislator since early 2000, is the first to publicly announce his intentions of challenging Cuomo.
“First and foremost, people have to ask this question: is New York State government working for you? So if you’re happy with New York State government, if you’re happy with your property tax bill, if you’re happy with the job opportunities then they should probably vote again for Andrew Cuomo if he runs again,” Kolb told WNYNewsNow. “My view is if you’re not happy and don’t think New York State government is working for you then its time for change. He’s (Cuomo) had two terms which is plenty of time anyway.”
There are many issues facing the people of New York, but Kolb says those that hit closest to home are key.
“I actually believe when you talk to people throughout the state, it’s the pocketbook issues, it’s the kitchen table issues. It’s how much are my property taxes? Can I have a good paying job? Do my kids and grandkids have an opportunity to succeed in New York? Is there growth opportunity,” Kolb said.
“When you talk to businesses it’s the regulatory environment, the tax, fine and harass attitude that I think a lot of the state agencies have against people who are trying to employ and grow employment in our state. These are the kind of things that people care about most,” he said.
Kolb pledged to visit every county in the state, saying one cannot address issues in a county unless one goes there and sees first-hand what the needs are and talks with local people to hear their concerns and ideas.
“It’s about where you live. The issues could be different in the Southern Tier than they might be in the Hudson Valley or the North country. You have to talk to people and listen to what’s on their minds,” the GOP hopeful said. “Is there a solution that state government can help with? That’s what you have to do. People really want to know that you care and how you show that you care and are trying to do something is to be in your back yard. You can’t solve the Southern Tier’s problems operating out of an office in New York City or Albany. And it doesn’t solve it by holding press conferences in Rochester, Buffalo or Syracuse handing out taxpayer money. You really have to travel the streets and roads of every community.”
Not all the controversial issues may be solves, Kolb said, but the effort needs to be made.
“I think fundamentally there are some controversial issues that you just have to walk through and there’s no guarantees you’re going to resolve them, just like the Safe Act. I voted against the safe act and I’m in favor of repeal,” Kolb said.
Compromises sometimes need to be done to serve the people, Kolb explained.
“You have to work with the legislature and sometimes there’s just some good old-fashioned horse trading,” he said, adding that all government dealings must be transparent and open to the public. “You can get a deal that both parties can walk away with and say ‘Hey, I think we both won. That’s in any negotiation. (Like) when you’re buying or selling a house.”
Kolb said he is starting his campaign now to build support and momentum for the May nominating convention.
“I want to be elected and work for the people of New York,” Kolb said. “I really want to go and do the best job I can to make all of our lives better: to lower our tax burden, to get government out of our pocketbook, to get government off the backs of small businesses.”
The last Republican to be elected governor in New York was George Pataki in 2002.