MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx (PIX11) — Both candidates for governor of New York, incumbent Kathy Hochul and Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin, spoke about security and safety on Monday. While it was a focus, it was one of a few issues in the spotlight for them both. A comment made by Zeldin ended up eclipsing his defense on one of those issues, of whether or not he was focusing more of his campaign on voters outside of New York City.
Both candidates ended up speaking about the broadest range of topics when they were asked about them by reporters, as opposed to the issues they’d convened events for themselves: Hochul on preventing car thefts on Long Island, and Zeldin on subway safety in the Bronx.
Zeldin reiterated a point he’s made before in his campaign: that he won’t debate Hochul just one time, as she has requested; for him it’s multiple times or nothing. In doing so, he made clear that he was very well aware of this news outlet.
“I just came here from the PIX11 studios,” he said at his news conference in front of the East 149th Street station on the 6 train line.
“I did a 30-minute interview,” he said, and continued to talk about how his PIX11 appearance would be part of a pre-recorded candidates’ forum.
“I understand that Kathy Hochul did a 30-minute interview with PIX11 as well, and they’re gonna air it on Friday,” he said. “It originally started as a debate request. We should’ve been standing there side by side.”
Then when PIX11 News began to ask a question at the media gathering where the candidate and press corps were separated from passersby by members of Zeldin’s security detail, Zeldin’s response produced a palpable, if momentary, shock.
“Are you a member of the media?” he asked this reporter.
Upon being informed that he was speaking with a journalist from PIX11 News, the very entity that he’d pointed out that he’d spent his morning with, the candidate’s response was, “Welcome.”
He was asked to talk about how committed he was to urban voters, as opposed to ones from suburban areas, like the one he represents in Congress. Zeldin’s seat is on the eastern half of Long Island.
He eventually answered the question and brought it back to the issue of safety on the subway.
“We’re talking to any New Yorker who feels that more needs to be done to improve the quality of the ridership experience,” he said.
However, the candidate made no effort at the news conference to call New Yorkers’ attention to his having been endorsed by Donald Trump the day before. He never even said the former president’s name at the event.
“It shouldn’t have been news,” Zeldin said. “He’s supported me before this weekend.”
Meanwhile, in a trade of places, Gov. Hochul was in Suffolk County, Long Island on Monday, which Zeldin represents in Congress.
With a sign reading “Cracking Down on Car Theft” on the front of her podium, the governor said, “We want the criminals to know the gig’s up. We’re coming after you. We have the resources, the technology, and the will to stop these crimes from happening.”
Regarding subway crime, which has seen a 42% rise in city felony transit crimes, according to the NYPD, the governor said that liability doesn’t just rest with her.
“The mayor and the police department are responsible for policing the city’s subways,” began the governor, who has oversight of the MTA, which operates the subway system. “But we have offered our full support,” she continued, “whether it’s people with mental health problems, embedding state teams with the local teams. This has not happened before, as well as putting cameras on the subways.”
Metro-North train cars are all equipped with security cameras, according to the governor’s office, as well as 90 percent of LIRR cars. Hochul has pledged to equip all subway cars with cameras by 2025.