Mourning the Passing of Governor Mario Cuomo

Mario Cuomo
Mario Cuomo in 2011. Photo credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Thinkstock

Like all New Yorkers, I mourn the passing of Mario Cuomo, a giant in New York government and politics, as well as a prominent figure in our nation. My condolences and prayers go out to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the entire Cuomo family.

His accomplishments and impact on our society have been well chronicled in recent days across the State and Nation. Whether it was his principled stand on the death penalty or women’s reproductive freedoms, his 1984 Democratic National convention speech, or the way he governed New York on a daily basis from 1983 to 1995, Mario Cuomo stayed true to his philosophy and beliefs.

My personal memories will always go to the East End Economic and Environmental Task Force which he created in 1993, when I was the Southampton Town Supervisor. The Governor always took a special interest in the East End. He created a Task Force of 49 East End leaders that was chaired by Tom Twomey, whose own recent passing we still mourn. It was unique in that the Task Force had no staff, no director, no consultants and no money.

Yet, in a few short months, it produced a report with 44 recommendations that cemented the philosophy of public policy that has guided elected officials here for the past two decades. The economy is the environment and the environment is the economy.

That report, “Blueprint for Our Future” still provides guidance to East End policymakers today and still has a special place on my desk. The Governor came to the Riverhead County Center in 1994 to accept the report. He spoke for about 20 minutes that day without a single note and succeeded in capturing the very essence of the occasion hailing the report for having “a vision as clear as the sun rising out of the sparkling Atlantic waters”.

The Governor was a mentor and a model for a generation who aspired to a career in government and politics. He will be missed.

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