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Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Meets With Plattsburgh Chamber Members

WAMC/Pat Bradley

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, was in Plattsburgh this morning to meet with local business leaders.

The Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce Roundtable meeting is part of ongoing efforts by the organization to meet with key officials, or candidates who may obtain positions, that impact issues that matter to the business community

President and CEO Garry Douglas explained that the chamber does not endorse candidates but does seek to interact with key officials and candidates.  He outlined a number of regional issues of which Astorino must be aware.  “We’ve got an international border. It is one of those region-specific things where the state can be helpful and is helpful at times. Our transportation equipment sector here is particularly driven by public investment through transit authorities and so on. All of the unique issues related to the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Park. The importance of agriculture up here. Economic development strategies and ways that the state can continue to carry on some of those.”

Astorino stood in front of the business leaders and described his political background as Westchester County Executive. He then launched into campaign rhetoric criticizing the current administration.  “As a state we need to be measured against 49 other states. We’re getting our clocks cleaned in every measurable category that matters.  Highest taxes in the country. Worst business climate. Worst economic outlook. We’re dealing right now with the Moreland Commission scandal that the governor’s wrapped up in and others. And this corruption taints every decision made.”

Astorino says action is needed on a number of issues including mandate relief, the scaffold law, and other regulations unique to New York. He also said the state should move forward on hydrofracking, which has been on hold under a de facto moratorium for years.  “This is a political paralyzation by the governor, period.  Just the other day the Energy Department came out and said there is not one instance, same thing from the EPA, of water contamination from hydrofracking. Will we protect the aquifers and the water supply? Yes. So let’s take that argument off the table. Within ninety days of my administration we’re going to have rules and regulations so communities that want to do this can move forward and do it.”

There were a number of issues raised from businesses, including the Regional Economic Development Councils, mandate relief and economic stability for the Adirondack region. Astorino called the StartUp New York program the “biggest fantasy on TV” and finds Medicaid rife with fraud and waste.  He acknowledged that many in the room might doubt his ability to win, but cautioned not to believe the polls.

Astorino said there is corruption in the Cuomo administration and wants the U.S. Attorney investigating the Moreland Commission to release information prior to election day.  “Corruption is rampant and this governor is part of that corruption and political machine. He’s been in Albany in some way shape or form, or Washington, for 30 years. He knows every button to push in order to get what he needs. And you can see it’s just about advancing his career. This is something that has got to be swept out of Albany because it’s tainting everything.”

Regional Branch Manager and Vice President of Glens Falls National Bank John VanAtten is former chair of the Chamber Board and believes the business community is closely following the campaign.  “While there’s been some growth in jobs from the Bombardiers and the Nova Busses, the small mom-and-pop shops, growth there is still anemic in the North Country. He realizes the challenges in getting business started, the hurdles for business. But he’s also got a very big challenge in dealing with the folks in Albany.”

The Astorino campaign has released education, ethics and job plans. It will release a tax plan in two weeks.

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