Cuomo’s Minority Team

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CuomoFrom the standpoint of minorities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial quest did not have an auspicious beginning. Nor was there much excitement from Blacks and Latinos when he announced his first round of appointments.

But over the last several months, Cuomo has made a number of key appointments that should go a long way to assuage the disgruntled, including the creation of a transition committee to recruit and to recommend candidates for various positions.

Among those selected for the transition committee were Elinor Tatum; Lloyd Williams, CEO and president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; City Council member Inez Dickens; Assemblymen Keith Wright and Hakeem Jeffries; Walter Edwards of the Harlem Business Alliance; former City Comptroller William Thompson; State Senator Bill Perkins; former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter; Tarrus Richardson and Chloe Drew Council of Urban Professionals; James Francis of Paradigm Asset Management; and former State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who co-chaired the committee with Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez.

“This committee was formed to recommend a few of the early appointments,” McCall said. “There are still a lot of openings and we hope we can be helpful going forward.”          

With the committee’s support and recommendations, the following people have been appointed: Mylan L. Denerstein, Counsel to the Governor and the governor’s chief legal advisor. She worked with the governor as the executive deputy attorney general for social justice for entire attorney general term, handling cases related to civil rights, environmental protection, health care and labor. Former State Supreme Court Justice Leslie Leach, and former executive deputy attorney general for the division of state counsel, will be appointments secretary.

Paul T. Williams, Jr. has been re-appointed Executive Director of the Dormitory Authority, which provides financing and construction services to public and private universities, not-for-profit healthcare facilities, and other institutions, which serve the public good.   

Former Assemblyman Darryl Towns is the new Commissioner of Housing; Alphonso David, a former Assistant Attorney General, is now the Deputy Secretary of Civil Rights; Barry Sample, a former aide to McCall, is the Deputy Director of State Operations; the new Commissioner of Tax and Finance is Tom Mattox, a former executive at Goldman Sachs; Leecia Eve, a former counsel to Sen. Hillary Clinton is now the General Counsel of the Empire State Development Corporation.

Juanita Scarlett, highly regarded and well-connected to state politics, has been selected as Executive Vice President, Strategy, Policy & Public Affairs at Empire State Development Corporation; and Simeon Banister is the new Deputy Director for Government Relations of the Tax and Finance Department, and former ex- Director of the New York County Democratic Organization.

“Thus far, we are reasonably satisfied with the new appointees,” McCall said, “and I think the governor has shown some real action to our concerns. We are particularly excited about the MWBE (Minority and Women-Owned Businesses) task force headed by Bill Thompson that has the goal of improving the contracts from 10 percent to 20 percent.”
 
How to get to that goal remains the challenge for the task force, McCall concluded.