Pace’s Schimmel Theater Hosts the New York Governor’s Debate: Topics of Public Safety, Rent Prices, and Abortion


Candidates Representative Lee Zeplin (R) and Governor Kathy Hochul (D) debate about New York’s public safety on live stream at Pace University’s Schimmel Theatre Tuesday, October 25th. (Photo Credit: Spectrum News One NY)

Sahtrese McQueen, News Editor

Last Tuesday, Pace University hosted the first and only scheduled debate between governor candidate Kathy Hochul, standing Democratic New York Governor since Andrew Cuomo resigned in late August 2021, and Lee Zeldin, the Republican representative, and New York congressman.

This debate took place in the Schimmel Theater, located on the lower level of the NYC Campus. There was no live audience, but instead, the hour-long debate was live-streamed on Spectrum News One NY. Both Hochul and Zeldin were tasked with answering inquiries in long form on topics such as crime and public safety, the economy, and abortion, as well as responding to questions from their opponent, and rapid short-form Yes/No answers on various questions. 

During the 60-second opening statements, Zeldin presents his position on providing a, “safer, freer, better future,” by cracking down on Hochul’s strict policies, bringing down crime rates, and lowering raising taxes. Hochul opened with promises of middle-class tax cuts and property tax rebates, getting tougher on illegal guns in New York, and protecting women’s right to choose. She also took early shots at Zeldin, via statements of his involvement in defending the January 6th rioters along with his opposition against stricter gun laws and abortion. 

On the topic of crime and safety in New York, Zeldin starts off by condemning the cashless bail legislation and the HALT Act, which limits the use of solitary confinement and uses alternative rehabilitative methods. He aims to get much tougher on crime and raise support for the police. Hochul rebuttals with her own plans, both already enacted and in the works, on cracking down further on guns and this being her focal first step in reducing crime in New York.

Zeldin responds by listing a number of crimes unrelated to guns that need to be addressed as well, and his belief in zero-tolerance for crime spans across the board. Zeldin also called for the removal of Alvin Bragg, District Attorney of Manhattan, saying that his first act as governor if elected would be Bragg’s erasure, despite his elected position only being at risk if he is charged for wrongdoings while in office. Zeldin promised to remove the district attorney for “refusing to do his job”, which is enforcing the law Zeldin says isn’t being upheld. 

Prompted with the question of the 57% statistical climb for crime in the subways, Hochul responds with her work with Mayor Eric Adams that increased police presence and cameras in subways slowly being introduced in the past year. “I understand the fear, I walk the streets of New York City every day, I’ve taken the subways. This fear is real – There are facts that talk about statistics which makes a different case, but I’m also dealing with real human beings who are anxious about their kids getting on a subway or going to work, I understand that.”

Zeldin, in his response, says, “I mean people are at home waiting for the action to make sure that the handcuffs are going on criminals instead of law-abiding New Yorkers so that people can go walk the streets of Manhattan instead of calling an uber to go two blocks…there are criminals out there that need to pay the consequences to their actions instead of the catch-release policies that Kathy Hochul champions.” 

On the topic of New York’s economy, Zeldin offers a solution in setting a state-spending cap in order to decrease the number of bailouts New York has gotten from the government, along with bringing down taxes and reversing the ban on extraction of natural gasses. Hochul talks about how she has already cut middle-class taxes and property tax rebates.

Moving forward, Hochul talks about creating new homes in New York to help combat the affordability issues the people are facing. A back and forth ensues, with Hochul pointing out numerous Acts in Congress that Zeldin voted against (i.e. infrastructure bill, Inflation Reduction Act) that would create jobs and generate wealth, and Zeldin retorting back with Hochul’s raise in commuter’s tax as well as the reduction in farmer’s overtime threshold, followed by not using allocated money for the Fast Act of 2015 that would fill potholes on Long Island freeways until recently this year.

Moving on to the rising home and rent prices, Zeldin talks about a business that doesn’t operate here anymore as a result of the drawn-out process of getting approved and the lack of good-paying jobs that make home-owning achievable. Hochul then talks about what has been done – $25 billion in the last budget that went towards 100,000 new affordable units all over New York and restabilizing those whose income fell during the pandemic. Hochul plans on converting office spaces and building more in the city, as well as breaking down zone barriers and moving toward developing around Transit instead. 

When speaking about abortion, Hochul stands by her support of Roe v. Wade in New York State, and the codification of the law in this state.

“So what had been out there since before the Supreme Court, undid 50 years of progress for women? Women like myself and my daughter would have a right. My granddaughter does not have the same right that I had to make a determination in concert with myself or my doctor if it’s after the sixth month. So we have the same restrictions, and anyone else who says otherwise is just incorrect,” said Hochul. Zeldin, who is anti-abortion, has previously said despite his stance, he would not be making any changes to the law. “Here’s the reality; A few years back, New York codified far more than Roe. When we woke up the day after the Dobbs decision, the law in New York was exactly the same as it was the day before. I’m not going to change that.”

However, Zeldin has stated his dissatisfaction with Planned Parenthood and tax money being taken for it, due to it being a statewide fund in New York. He does not support the legislature, and would not protect it. Hochul rebuts Zeldin’s recent support on bills such as Life Begins at Conception, and the Amicus Brief – which was in support of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, along with his public celebration over the overturn. 

The debate followed with a cross-examination round, and several other topics were covered such as threats to democracy and ethics, the migrant crisis, economic development, as well as the current covid climate. The full live stream can be found uploaded on Spectrum News One NY’s website. Early voting will begin this Saturday, October 29th, and Election Day on Tuesday, November 8th. Email [email protected] for more information on registering with Pace, finding your polling station, and more.