ENDORSEMENT — Republican governor candidate Marc Molinaro, at podium, thanks Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. for his endorsement in the race Tuesday afternoon in the lobby of the Delta Hotel in Utica. (Sentinel photo by David Hill)

GOP’s Molinaro gets Picente endorsement

Published Sep 19, 2018 at 4:00pm

UTICA -- Republican candidate for governor Marc Molinaro picked up the endorsement of fellow Republican and
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Tuesday and met
voters at a town hall in a downtown hotel.

The Dutchess County executive made a campaign stop for the afternoon at Utica’s Delta Hotel by Marriott, formerly known as the Radisson, and was joined by Picente for a brief press conference before the evening town hall in a hotel ballroom. “Marc understands clearly the needs of local government,” Picente said.

Picente acknowledged it’s not a surprise he’d endorse a fellow Republican but said the party label is not the main reason he’s backing Molinaro.

Picente said he and Molinaro have been friends from years, sharing ideas about county government through the state counties’ association and from Molinaro’s two terms in the state Assembly. Molinaro also served several terms as Tivoli village mayor, after being elected at age 17 and being known as the nation’s youngest mayor.

Dutchess County has saved taxpayers money and dealt with challenges other counties face, such as the opioid epidemic, homelessness and state mandates, Picente said, and he’s confident Molinaro would do the same as governor.

Molinaro briefly stated highlights of his platform. One is to seek meaningful relief to New York taxpayers, which have some of the highest rates of property and other taxes in the country, and to make the state more affordable and competitive.

He has called for suspending much of the state economic development program, instead directing state money to improving infrastructure and education rather than highly publicized development grants to companies with little job-creation standards.

“It’s a form of money laundering,” Molinaro said.

“Economic development needs to be built on reducing cost and reducing regulation, investing in the tools that government provides to support economic growth —infrastructure and education — and provide the opportunity really for an environment where businesses grow.”

He also pledged to hold regular town-hall meetings as governor.

“In order to serve the people of New York you have to know the people of New York and get out from behind the podium and put yourself out there,” Molinaro said. “If more elected officials did that there might be more accountability.”

Picente also noted that an initiative to provide opportunities for people with developmental disabilities in Dutchess County, known as Think Differently, is a model for Oneida and other counties. Molinaro said he has a daughter on the autism spectrum.

“Quite frankly the state has dismantled services for those with developmental disabilities. … “My commitment is to confront what is this quiet prejudice of low expectation that some people feel.”

Molinaro was chosen to head the Republican statewide ticket without a primary. His running mate is Rye city councilwoman Julie Killian.

Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two-to-one in the state, and Molinaro’s campaign committee reported in its latest campaign finance summary in July as having aout $887,000 on hand, versus Cuomo’s $31 million.

Asked to respond, Cuomo’s campaign sent this statement, which in part alludes to the Republican tax plan adopted last year that included a cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes:

“Mini-me Marc Molinaro backed Trump’s tax scam to raise taxes on New Yorkers by nearly 30 percent – devastating homeowners and decimating our middle class. Like his idol Trump, he’s against marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose and common-sense gun laws. It’s clear desperate Molinaro will say or do anything to distract from both his embarrassing record and flailing campaign.”

Molinaro did not for his party’s nominee for president in 2016, instead writing in former congressman Chris Gibson instead of Donald Trump, and he said Tuesday he stands by that as an example of not following his party at all cost. Picente endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich during the 2016 Republican primary season.

However, Molinaro added: “I think the national economy is perking along. I think there are people on main street who need help. In new York it would be nice if state government at least … had an environment where we benefit from national economic growth as well.

“I have said multiple times when the president does something well, I will say so. When he was here in Utica he said that New York has the highest burden of taxation and it’s Andrew Cuomo’s fault. I agree with him.”

Molinaro said he and Picente have also both run the Utica Boilermaker 15-kilometer road race, one of the biggest annual events in the Mohawk Valley. Molinaro, 42, couldn’t remember his time this year but said it was about a four-minute improvement over 2017.