JAMESTOWN - A change in attitude is needed.
Talking about such change, however, is only that - just talk.
For that reason, New York's new governor brought his State of the State message to Western New York on Thursday.
"I wanted to change the tradition a little bit," Andrew Cuomo told a capacity crowd at the Robert H. Jackson Center. "We have to make a lot of changes in Albany, and one of the changes is the attitude that people are going to come and hear their government in Albany."
Only a week and a day after having delivered the speech in the state's capital and less than two weeks into his first term, Cuomo has launched a "Take it to the People Tour" - which will have him in Watertown today.
"Why doesn't the government come to the people?" Cuomo questioned Thursday. "Why is the expectation that people are going to flock to hear the governor speak hundreds of miles away. Government is a service bureau. I work for you. You pay me. You sign my check. My obligation is to come to you."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, sits with state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, before she introduces him during his visit to Jamestown Thursday.
In coming to Jamestown, Cuomo had a request of local residents - and citizens statewide alike.
With the state in a critical period, as he put it, Cuomo called on New Yorkers to become a part of the process. Real change, he said, must come from people rising up and making their voices heard.
"If the conversation is the same conversation that happens in the capital in Albany for the past 10 years, the special interests will win," Cuomo warned. "If the conversation is in the hallways of Albany, the lobbyists will win - the way they've won every year for the past 10 years. So my message to the people of this state is you have to speak up, you have to rise up. Democracy only works when you make it work.
"And when are we going to change Albany?" Cuomo continued. "When the people of this state demand change. I hope we're going to use the energy in this crisis to mobilize the people of this state to actually make a difference."
What's typical isn't working, the governor pointed out - which is part of the reason why he changed venues for his State of the State in Albany and is now taking the message on the road.
"I'm purposefully reaching out to places all across the state that in many ways have been alienated from Albany," he said. "They haven't had the connection and I'm going to change that."
Also admittedly atypical was Cuomo's introduction by State Senator Cathy Young, R-Olean, which Cuomo answered questions about in a post-speech news conference.
"What they should read into that is I was introduced by a New Yorker today who happened to be a Republican," Cuomo said. "I was with other New Yorkers who happen to be Democrats. I want to invert the emphasis. I don't want to emphasize the political parties. That's what I'm doing all across the board. I want to de-emphasize the political party (and) emphasize the commonality as New Yorkers because if the political rifts continue, we're going to fail once again.
"If all the Democrats go to one corner and all the Republicans go to the other corner and they both play their party politics, we lose," Cuomo said. "I am, I happen to be a Democrat. I also ran as an Independent. I want to work with people on both sides of the aisle. I'm a New Yorker first."
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