Elected officials have a way with words
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has it in the genes: the ability to almost always offer a compelling, captivating speech. It’s one of the gifts from his dad, the late Mario Cuomo, who I could listen to every time he was on the radio or television.
The elder Cuomo’s most famous speech came in July 1984 at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco when he disagreed with President Ronald Reagan’s premise on just how prosperous the American economy had become. Instead, he talked about a country and the individuals who were battling daily to make a living.
“That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining city,” then-Gov. Mario Cuomo said. “And it’s a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn’t read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it and lived it, like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both his hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my father.”
Remarks such as those catapulted him into serious discussions on a run for presidency that never materialized.
Like father, Andrew Cuomo’s name keeps getting in that mix for a future run at the top office — and his oratory skills add to a solid resume. He spent a great deal of time last week in his State of the State address mentioning Washington. Some of it directed upon state residents, but other portions definitely targeted for a nationwide appeal.
“And now there’s a negative synergy, a sense that we are out of control, and that breeds a fear, and that fear breeds an anger, and that anger breeds a division, and that division makes us smaller and weaker,” he said Jan. 3. “Our internal divisions are a cancer to our body politic. And our federal government is furthering the divisions. They govern by dividing. It’s winners versus losers, it’s rich versus middle class versus poor, it’s black versus white, it’s red states versus blue states, it’s documented versus undocumented, gay versus straight, Muslims versus Jews versus Christians. It’s always pitting one group against the other. It’s always conflict. It’s always either or, and much harm has been done.”
There’s no denying the rift, which may continue for another year until the next election cycle for the House of Representatives. His gift of gab — if he runs — gives him an advantage against our current leader. President Donald Trump may be the king of one liners — or 140 characters, but those mentions also offer little substance.
On a local level, we’re lucky to have leaders who also excel in communicating. Consider some of these thoughts regarding some of our eloquent office holders:
¯ State Sen. Catharine Young — Extremely good at working the crowd. Genuine and knowledgeable on every local issue and outstanding at remembering constituents’ names.
¯ State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell — Knows the laws and the facts. Very tough to beat in a debate. His most memorable local speech may have been given at the Williams Center in July 2013 when he received a rousing ovation from the 2,000 in attendance for his points on repowering NRG.
¯ U.S. Rep. Tom Reed — Honest and willing to talk in some of the most hostile environments any area official has faced, especially last February during his town hall meetings. Has never lost his cool.
¯ Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello — Always upbeat, does his homework and always works to compliment some common ground.
¯ Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas — To the point and open minded. Quite vocal in his attempts to bring Dunkirk back to prosperity.
¯ Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis — Intelligent and engaging and not one bit afraid to state her opinion.
¯ Portland town Supervisor Dan Schrantz — Soft spoken, but a veteran local politician who knows the history and positives that go with collaborations.
¯ Dunkirk town Supervisor Richard Purol — Not always in the limelight, speaks in an unexcitable tone — and definitely knows what’s going on outside of the public’s eye.
¯ Pomfret town Supervisor Don Steger — Easy going and not intimidating.
While none of these area representatives have the Oval Office in mind, they are working for our best interests. They also are some of the key ingredients to continued success for the region in 2018.
John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org