Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gov. Cuomo: Please Come In

(Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the Daily Gazette)
CAPITOL — On Saturday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo preached openness with his words and his actions, he also opened up the executive mansion to 300 lucky New Yorkers that won a chance to meet him and his Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy.
For two hours, Cuomo, with various family members and his girlfriend, Sandra Lee, and Duffy exchanged pleasantries with people who mostly just wanted to wish the incoming governor good luck. Sometimes the short conversations would uncover a shared experience or provoke a chuckle, but almost everyone was left smiling after the interaction.
The occasion was a long time coming for Rochelle Filler of Glenmont, who said the experience was pretty exciting.
“We have tried for many many years to get an opportunity to do this on the day of the inauguration and we just got lucky this year,” she said.
Filler characterized the mansion as impressive and said, “My kids all want to live there.”
Built in 1856, the Executive Mansion is located at 138 Eagle St. and was most recently the home of outgoing Gov. David Paterson. Cuomo, who lived in the building when his father was governor, does not plan on living there.
Ben Salem, of Bethlehem, was struck by the size of the mansion. “It was giant,” he said.
The experience was a bit of a surprise for Salem and his family, who had laughed at family patriarch Andrew Salem when he decided to enter the lottery for the tickets.
Albany resident Bill Rider was encouraged by his brief encounter with the governor and said that Cuomo grasped the severity of the issues facing the state.
“I told him that I was very optimistic and that I realized he had a tough job ahead of him, but I thought that he was the right man for the right time and wished him luck,” said Rider. “He said, ‘Thank you very much’ and said he understood that it was a difficult time and that he was up for it.”
Rider’s son Kevin, 12, said the governor was nice and very polite.
Dave Green of western New York, who supported Cuomo’s election bid, said he wished the governor good luck. He said he was very excited about the team of Cuomo and Duffy.
In the immediate future, Green said, jobs are the biggest issue facing Cuomo.
Wearing Cuomo/Duffy buttons, Clifton Park sisters Natalie, 15, and Leanora Landau, 12, who had met the governor when he was attorney general, said it was nice to see him again. Natalie said that once she is able to vote she would support Cuomo in a bid for a second term.
For Ron and Marilyn Silverman of Albany, this was their third meet-and-greet with a New York governor, with the first being Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. They said this experience was the warmest and most organized.
The Silvermans said they were optimistic about Cuomo’s chances for a successful term in office and characterized the first couple as “down to earth.” Marilyn Silverman was especially taken with Sandra Lee, who said she had discovered three restaurants in Albany that she wanted to try.
“I want to know the three restaurants,” said Marilyn Silverman.

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