The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta spoke with Harry Wilson, the Johnstown, New York native and Harvard University graduate running in the Republican Party primary for governor of New York State
That primary election takes place June 28; Mr. Wilson is competing against putative frontrunner Rep. Lee Zeldin, Andrew Giuliani, and former gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino for the chance to run against the winner of the Democratic primary, which pits incumbent Kathy Hochul against challengers Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
“I’ve spent 30 years turning corporations around,” Mr. Wilson said. “In just about every circumstance, a company’s failures come from mismanagement by leaders at the top. We’ve got a professional class of politicians leading the state. We need a turnaround expert.”
His overarching plan hits common campaign notes – lower taxes, tough on crime, improved quality of life for New Yorkers. His difference, he said, is his skill set. Referencing a state Legislature today dominated strongly by Democratic majorities, he said, “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve dealt with hostile interests.”
“Every company I’ve gone into, I’ve been met with a lot of resistance,” he said. “No one embedded in the company wants to make the changes they need to bring them back to life, but my first question to them is always this: ‘How’s that working for you?’”
“My method is pretty simple,” Mr. Wilson continued. “Don’t attack anyone personally. Lay it out: here’s the goal, here’s the path – a data-driven path versus political rhetoric. I’ve found that can be enough to get the swing votes from moderates or independents who believe in a vision to move the state ahead but need leadership to do so.”
At the top of his policy agenda – a reform of New York’s bail and discovery reform laws that he and others say have led to a spike in crime throughout the state.
“We need some common-sense standards,” he said. “We need to give discretion back to the judges so they can differentiate among the different degrees of crimes being committed, a dangerousness standard.”
“The changes to the discovery process have been a disaster,” he continued. “District Attorney offices have become paper-pushers. The huge burden they face already is made even bigger with all this unnecessary paperwork that even the defense attorneys say they don’t want. It has no bearing on the work they need to do.”
He cited fentanyl trafficking as among the biggest societal and criminal challenges facing the state.
“They’re selling Xanax on Tik-Tok and Snapchat,” he said. “We need to dramatically increase the penalties. It’s affecting every city, every town, every village in the state.”