ANDREA STEWART-COUSINS

January 16, 2019 at 4:45 am

She is the most powerful woman in New York politics that you may not know. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has shattered more than the glass ceiling with her ascent in the capital. She joins us.

Aired on January 15, 2019.

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>> I'M MATT RYAN, MANAGING
EDITOR AND "METROFOCUS"
CONTRIBUTOR.
THE SENATE DEMOCRATS MADE IT
OFFICIAL ELECTING ANDREA
STEWART-COUSINS AS THEIR
MAJORITY LEADER.
SHE WILL BE THE FIRST WOMAN AND
FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN TO LEAD
THE CHAMBER.
KAREN DEWITT SAT DOWN WITH HER
RECENTLY IN THE SENATOR'S
YONKERS OFFICE TO DISCUSS WHAT
LIES AHEAD FOR THE DEMOCRATS.
>> SO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS
KIND OF BIG SWEEP TO?
WAS THE ELECTION ALL ABOUT
PRESIDENT TRUMP AND RESISTANCE
TO HIS POLICIES THAT HELPED THE
DEMOCRATS SO MUCH THIS YEAR?
>> I THINK CERTAINLY THAT WAS A
VERY, VERY LARGE PART OF IT.
WHEN PEOPLE WOKE UP AFTER THE
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN 2016
AND REALIZED THAT -- AND AS I
SAID, ALWAYS KNOW THAT WHETHER
YOU'RE A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT,
YOU DID NOT EXPECT THIS OUTCOME.
AND HAVING COME TO THE
CONCLUSION THAT THIS WOULD BE A
FOUR-YEAR OUTCOME, PEOPLE
STARTED LOOKING AT OTHER LEVELS
OF GOVERNMENT AND TOOK A LOOK AT
THEIR STATE LEGISLATURE.
MANY PEOPLE WERE SURPRISED THAT
IN A "BLUE STATE" THE STATE
SENATE WAS STILL NOT BLUE.
SO THE ATTENTION TURNED TOWARDS
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE REASONS
FOR THAT, WHAT WERE SOME OF THE
ISSUES THAT WERE UNABLE TO MOVE
FORWARD, AND THE COLLECTIVE
ENERGY OF PEOPLE ALL OVER,
OBVIOUSLY AND CERTAINLY A VERY
CONCENTRATED ENERGY HERE IN NEW
YORK, CREATED ENGAGEMENT OF
VOTERS THAT WE'VE NOT SEEN IN SO
MANY YEARS.
WE'VE ALWAYS LAMENTED THE FACT
THAT NEW YORK IS NUMBER 46 OUT
OF 50 STATES IN TERMS OF VOTER
TURNOUT.
AND PEOPLE DECIDED THAT THEY
NEED TO BE INVOLVED.
AND THEY DO.
SO THEY SENT A RESOUNDING
MESSAGE.
THEY WANT DEMOCRATS, AS THEY
VOTED FOR BEFORE, THEY WANT
DEMOCRATS TO LEAD AND THEY NEED
OUR LEADERSHIP AND WE'RE
CERTAINLY PLEASED AND LOOKING
FORWARD TO STEPPING UP.
>> SO GOVERNOR CUOMO HELPED YOU
MORE THAN HE HAS IN THE PAST.
HE CONTRIBUTED $5 MILLION TO
STATE SENATE CAMPAIGNS, AS WELL
AS CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS.
DO YOU OWE HIM ANYTHING FOR THAT
HELP?
>> I OWE HIM WHAT I WOULD OWE
ANY PARTNER IN GOVERNMENT, WHICH
IS TO BE ABLE TO WORK
COLLABORATIVELY, IN ORDER TO
BENEFIT THE PEOPLE THAT WE
SERVE.
I THINK THE GOVERNOR'S RESPONSE
TO WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE
FEDERAL LEVEL IS APPROPRIATE.
HE REALIZED THAT THE MAJORITY --
THE REPUBLICAN MAJORITY SEEMS
UNWILLING AND UNABLE TO STAND UP
ON BEHALF OF NEW YORKERS WHEN
YOU SEE SOMETHING LIKE THIS TAX
BILL THAT WAS AIMED AT NEW YORK
AND OTHER STATES THAT WERE
"BLUE."
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
THE INABILITY TO DEDUCT LOCAL
TAXES ANYMORE.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
AND THE REPUBLICANS SAID
NOTHING.
AND I THINK THE SIGNAL WAS LOUD
AND CLEAR.
WE NEED TO STAND UP FOR NEW
YORKERS AND CERTAINLY IF YOU
CAN'T DO THAT, YOU NEED TO GET
OUT OF THE WAY.
>> I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE
PRIORITY ITEMS.
YOU'RE TENDING TO SEND A MESSAGE
IN JANUARY.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE FIRST
THINGS THAT WE MIGHT SEE ACTED
UPON IN THE FIRST MONTH?
>> I'VE ALWAYS BEEN RELUCTANT TO
SAY THIS, THIS, AND THIS.
WE KNOW THAT THE FIRST MONTH IS
GOING TO BE EXTRAORDINARY, JUST
BECAUSE OF THE NEW LEADERSHIP
THERE.
ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I THINK,
BECAUSE WE'RE JUST OFF OF OUR
LAST VOTING CYCLE, IS HOW
DIFFICULT IT HAS BEEN FOR NEW
YORKERS TO VOTE.
WE DON'T HAVE EARLY VOTING.
>> ONE OF THE LAST STATES TO NOT
HAVE IT.
>>ING EXACTLY.
WE DON'T HAVE AUTOMATIC
REGISTRATION.
WE DON'T HAVE SO MANY THINGS TO
MAKE VOTING EASIER.
SO THOSE KINDS OF REFORMS COULD
BE AMONG THE FIRST.
WE'VE BEEN TRYING SO HARD TO
JUST DO BASIC THINGS.
WE WANT TO EXPAND THE BACKGROUND
CHECK WHEN IT COMES TO GETTING
GUNS.
YOU KNOW, UNLIKE THE NATION, WE
ACTUALLY DO HAVE A THREE-DAY
WAITING PERIOD SO THAT PEOPLE
CAN CHECK TO MAKE SURE THAT THE
PERSON WHO IS REQUESTING THE
GUNS SHOULD HAVE IT.
AND WE FIND THAT THREE DAYS,
FRANKLY, IS THE TIME FRAME IT
TAKES THAT THERE'S NO QUESTIONS.
THERE ARE QUESTIONS IF -- THERE
ARE TIMES THAT THERE ARE
QUESTIONS AND THEY'RE NOT
ANSWERED WITHIN THREE DAYS.
SO WE HAVE SOME VERY BASIC
THINGS THAT WE HAVE BEEN TRYING
TO GET DONE.
EXTREME RISKS PROTECTION ORDER.
SO, AGAIN, I'M NOT THINKING --
>> I'M EAGER TO PIN YOU DOWN.
>> I KNOW.
AND IT'S NOT GOING TO BE EASY TO
PIN ME DOWN, BECAUSE THERE'S SO
MANY PEOPLE WHO WANT TO MUCH,
AND I NEED TO --
>> WE'RE HEARING IT EVERY DAY
NOW.
>> I KNOW.
I'M TRYING TO MANAGE
EXPECTATIONS.
WHAT I SAY IS I LIKE TO
UNDERPROMISE AND OVERDELIVER.
>> AND FINALLY, AND I THINK YOU
PROBABLY EXPECTED THIS QUESTION
TO BE COMING AT SOME TIME.
THE LAST TIME THE DEMOCRATS RAN
THE SENATE, 2009, 2010, YOU WERE
THERE BUT DIDN'T HAVE A
LEADERSHIP POST.
IT WAS PRETTY CHAOTIC AND SOME
WOULD SAY DISASTROUS.
YOU HAD THE SENATE COUP, WHERE
YOU HAD 31 MEMBERS EACH, HOLDING
ALTERNATIVE SESSIONS IN THE
CHAMBER.
AND A LOT OF CORRUPTION, A LOT
OF LEADERS ARE IN JAIL NOW.
AND PEOPLE STILL LOOK BACK AT
THAT AND ARE WORRIED, CAN THE
DEMOCRATS RUN THE SENATE?
>> THE DEMOCRATS FIRST OF ALL
CAN CERTAINLY RUN THE SENATE.
THE CONFERENCE IS A CONFERENCE
THAT I BELIEVE NOT ONLY HAS
GROWN, BUT WE'VE BEEN THROUGH A
LOT.
THOSE OF US WHO ARE HERE AND
CERTAINLY PEOPLE WHO ARE COMING
IN, WE'VE ALL BEEN THROUGH A LOT
TO HAVE OUR POSITIONS OF
LEADERSHIP, AND WE'VE EARNED OUR
POSITIONS OF LEADERSHIP, AND WE
DON'T TAKE THAT FOR GRANT IT.
WHEN YOU MENTION THE COUP,
OBVIOUSLY THE COUP WAS
ENGINEERED BY REPUBLICANS, NOT
DEMOCRATS.
AND IT'S BECAUSE THE REPUBLICANS
THAT HELD THE CHAMBER FOR THE
BETTER PART, YOU KNOW, OF MOSTLY
A HUNDRED YEARS, AND THEY DIDN'T
WANT TO RELINQUISH THE POWER.
BUT WE'RE AT A POINT NOW WHERE,
AGAIN, THE VOTERS HAVE SOLIDLY
ASKED FOR DEMOCRATS TO BE IN
CHARGE OF THE SENATE BY SENDING
40 DEMOCRATS TO THE CHAMBER.
EVERYONE THERE UNDERSTANDS OUR
VERY IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITY TO
BE GOOD STEWARDS OF THE PUBLIC
TRUST, AND WE DON'T INTEND TO
BREAK THAT TRUST.

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Funders

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