CHENANGO COUNTY — Gubernatorial candidate in the upcoming primary election for New York State Governor Harry Wilson visited Chenango County on Saturday to meet with residents and local officials.
Wilson said while he grew up in Upstate New York and has traveled across the state as a citizen, as a prospective politician he wanted to learn more about the strengths of each area, as well as the difficulties those areas are facing.
"First of all I love being around, meeting people, but also I think the way to kind of really understand what the opportunities and challenges are in each place is to be there and talk to people. So that’s a big part of what I’m doing in general, and a big part of why I’m here in Chenango County. I’ve been here many times in the past, this is I guess the most recent integration," he said.
Throughout the day, Wilson met with elected officials such as New Berlin Mayor Peter Lennon, local business leaders such as Commerce Chenango President and CEO Kerri Green, other community leaders, as well as some area residents at a community yard sale.
Wilson explained that he's different from his fellow Republican candidates — Andrew Guiliani, Rob Astorino, and Congressman Lee Zeldin — in that his approach to addressing the many challenges of the state will be based on his 30 years of experience rehabilitating failing businesses.
"I spent 30 years turning around broken companies that come in in or near bankruptcy, and fixing them. Saving jobs, saving the company. That’s exactly what I want to do with New York State, that skill set of fixing a broken organization," Wilson explained. "I think the New York State government is the most broken state government in the country. We have the highest taxes, the highest cost of living, rising crime, a culture of corruption. It’s not serving the people of the state very well, and I think about it as, we need to deliver higher quality services at a lower cost, which is what every business has to think about, and almost every state does a better job than New York does."
While he doesn't believe in running the state exactly like a business, to begin the process of transforming New York Wilson said he will identify one key component of the state, as he does with all of the companies he works with.
"The question I focus on is, what’s the core mission of the enterprise? Whether it’s a company, a nonprofit, a newspaper, state government. What’s the core mission? And then how do we become world-class at that mission? And that’s the question I would ask of every company, and that’s the question I would ask of New York State," said Wilson. "So for New York State, for me, the core mission is we want to create the environment for a super high quality of life for all New Yorkers, and we want to do it at a reasonable cost."
To create this environment, Wilson's approach will focus on three pillars: taxes, cost of living, and crime. To improve cost of living in the state and tax rates, Wilson said he has committed to cutting $25 billion in state spending on things that "people won't miss."
"We don’t say, what did we spend last year, and let’s grow that by x percent. We say, no, what’s the core mission? Let’s only focus on that and things that focus on the core mission at a reasonable cost. Let’s keep those, maybe we expand them," he explained. "If they don’t deliver on our core mission, which is so true for so many programs in the state government, because there’s no accountability and there’s no results, people just say, how can I spend more? Without thinking about, how do I actually deliver results for people?"
"So it’s basically taking that approach for every single dollar of state spending, every single state regulation, and asking that kind of hard-nosed question, and then repositioning based on that. So that’s what I’ve done in company after company, and we’ve done that at a high level already. We think we can cut at least $25 billion of spending that people won’t miss. Like it’s not going to effect programs, it’s just this is kind of all mismanagement."
To address the problem of rising crime across the state, Wilson and his team went throughout the state to talk to professionals in every aspect of the criminal justice field to determine what works and doesn't work for the system. A common concern was bail reform and the challenges it has brought to the criminal justice system, which Wilson plans to reverse if elected.
"When we built our anti-crime plan we talked to people in law enforcement, we talked to prosecutors, we talked to defense attorneys, correction officers, everybody in the criminal justice system. This is how I do due diligence on a problem, I kind of dive deep, ask people on the ground, what are you seeing? What’s working? What’s not working?" he said. "Bail reform concerns are universal; Across the state, different rural, urban, small city, big city, suburbs, everywhere. So you can’t not hear that. You can’t hear that and not think, we have to address it."
In addition to his three pillars, Wilson said he is also very focused on creating and promoting bipartisan collaboration, rather than fueling the current political division seen across the country.
"The system unfortunately caters to that, where one side yells at the other side and gets their side energized. But that’s a recipe for division and lack of progress, not for success," he said. "I’m intentionally not focused on that. I’m focused on, how do we bring people together? And I think we need to unite in this because there’s more that unites us. Even if we both are from very different parts of the spectrum, there’s more than unites us than divides us."
"A lot of people in politics don’t believe that, a lot of people in politics believe the other side is the enemy. I don’t believe any American is an enemy. We might disagree, we can disagree a lot, but it doesn’t mean he’s the enemy, you know? And so that’s just my different approach."
Early voting for the New York State Governor primaries began on Saturday, June 18, and will run until Sunday, June 26, with election day landing on Tuesday, June 28. After primary candidates for the Democrat and Republican parties are elected, the general election for governor will be held in November.
"The main thing I want to get across is, I understand how important this election is and know that I really need people to show up to vote in the republic primary on June 28," said Wilson.
"The primaries are always low turnout affairs. This one in particular is two primaries, it’s during the Fourth of July week, it’s right after the school year ends, so it will be a low turnout affair. So we just need people to show up and vote," he continued. "Vote for the only person who’s an outsider, not a career politician. The only person who grew up upstate, not a downstater like everybody else in the race, and the only person I really think has the skill set to fix this state."
Should he be elected as the primary candidate on June 28, Wilson said he will continue to campaign for the general election in November, and continue to fight for New Yorkers' right to live the American dream.
"I’ve been incredibly blessed, I’ve lived the American dream, and I think that’s what all New Yorkers have the right to have the opportunity to build," he said. "I think the biggest impediment to that is bad policies coming out of Albany that destroy jobs, destroy opportunities, hurt schools, and that’s what I want to fix and expand that opportunity out there for everybody. I don’t think I’m different or unique in any way, I think there are hundreds of thousands of kids just like me."
"The things we should not do is put obstacles in their way because of bad policy. That’s unacceptable. That’s why I’m running for office."