by Adam Roberts
The resignation of Governor Cuomo earlier this year allowed for then-Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul to take his place. However, Gov. Hochul will likely a fierce challenge for the Democratic nomination in the June 2022 primary. The outcome of the election will have a significant impact on the practice of architecture in New York State.
Currently, Hochul’s likeliest primary contenders include Attorney General Letitia James, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, US Representative Tom Suozzi, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. While Hochul is expected to run as a moderate candidate, James and Williams, who are considered her strongest opponents, are likely to run to her left. Political figures have already started lining up behind potential candidates, including New York State Democratic Committee Chair Jay Jacobs, who recently endorsed Hochul.
Architectural issues are shaping up to be central to the race. For one part, Hochul has sought to distance herself from one of Cuomo’s most controversial infrastructure projects, the LaGuardia AirTrain. Under pressure from local elected officials, she has asked the Port Authority to review other mass transit options to connect the airport to the city’s transit system. While this seemed to show a commitment to improving mass transit, it came amidst her controversial claim that “so many people say they’re afraid to go get vaccines because they’d have to get on the subway and they’re afraid of being assaulted.”
While these may be important issues to both architects and voters in 2022, the most pressing for both groups may be the implementation of congestion pricing, which has been significantly delayed since its approval in 2019. While Cuomo appointed the Major Construction Review Unit, a group that includes AIANY’s Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, to oversee the distribution of congestion pricing funds, he never appointed the Traffic Mobility Review Board, which is charged with setting toll prices. Hochul has also not appointed the body’s members, drawing protests from transit groups. With the issue likely to divide New York City and outer-borough/suburban voters, candidates may seek to endear themselves to one of these constituencies.