Born on December 6, 1957, Andrew M. Cuomo was the second child of Mario Cuomo & Matilda Raffa Cuomo. His paternal grandparents, Andrea and Immaculato Cuomo, emigrated from Salerno, Italy to South Jamaica, Queens, in the 1920s, where Andrea ran a small grocery store.
Andrew attended Fordham University in the Bronx and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1979. He received his law degree from Albany Law School in 1982. Working his way through both college and law school, Andrew took jobs as a security guard, landscaper, and an auto repair mechanic.
After the 1996 election, President Clinton picked Andrew to serve as HUD Secretary. At the time, HUD was viewed as a poster child for waste and mismanagement. It was the only federal agency designated “high risk” by the Government Accounting Office and several members of Congress were calling for HUD’s elimination.
As HUD Secretary, Andrew Cuomo launched a top to bottom reinvention of the troubled agency, overhauling HUD’s management, governing philosophies, and programs. By the time Andrew left HUD, the Department had been removed from the GAO “high risk” list, his management reform effort won prestigious prizes for innovation and he received bipartisan praise for turning around one of the most poorly managed federal agencies.
The turnaround was clearest at the Federal Housing Administration, a backbone of providing mortgages to first time home buyers. During the early 1990s, FHA was almost $3 billion in the red — and without radical restructuring, a costly federal bailout seemed inevitable. But Andrew’s management reforms helped revitalize the FHA. By 2000, instead of running a deficit, FHA was $16 billion in the black and poised to return almost $20 billion dollars a year to taxpayers.
Cuomo was elected to one term as NYS Attorney General in 2006; serving until 2011. He won in an uncontested primary in 2010 and defeated Carl Paladino in the general election with 62% of the vote. He has remained popular as governor, repeatedly demonstrating his ability to get others to join him in getting the people’s work done.
Here are some accomplishments:
- Working with the legislature, Cuomo has had unprecedented success with on-time budgets.
- NYS passed Cuomo’s proposal for a Property Tax Cap over the opposition of those concerned about the squeeze on local budgets especially for education.
- NYS passed the Safe Act, a step toward reasonable regulation of firearms.
- NYS passed the Marriage Equality Act, establishing justice for same-sex couples.
Here are some likely failures:
- After promising to support fair and impartial redistricting, Cuomo abandoned the cause in what seems to have been political horsetrading.
- After proposing to fund inmate college education, it seem unlikely that he means to make a serious effort to make it happen.
Under the circumstances of divided government in NYS, Republican and Democrat as well as upstate and downstate, Governor Cuomo has an enviable record of achievement. His continuing popularity is merited. Given the chance that he could work his magic with Congress as President, he would seem an excellent choice.
© William Hungerford – March 2014