The politics of subway crime in the race for New York governor

Thursday, October 20, 2022
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The fear of crime, especially on the subway, has become the top issue in the race for New York governor. N.J. Burkett has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News is digging deeper into how the fear of crime, especially on the subway, has become the top issue in the race for New York governor.

Gov. Kathy Hochul's Republican challenger Lee Zeldin is making it closer than expected in the polls in the race for New York governor.

The big issues are crime and bail reform. The NYPD says seven major crimes are up 31% so far this year.

Another rider was attacked in the subway system this week. This time, onboard a Number 2 train on the Upper West Side: A young man was stabbed alongside his girlfriend, after a dispute with another rider.

The attacker took off after she blasted him with pepper spray.

"He would have continued," Tovar said. "So I'm glad she got him when she did."

Riders are being attacked despite an unprecedented police deployment.

The most violent crimes have been unprovoked and senseless-many happening while officers were on the platforms.

"My sister in-law I just got on the subway the other day and someone got beat up right in front of her face," said subway rider Ariel Dagan.

Many riders said it's the number one issue in the governor's race.

"Because, right now, the subway is out of control with crime, not just the subway-the streets, too," said subway rider Juan Crespo.

On Eyewitness News' "Up Close," airing on Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul blamed the backlogged court system and the city's mental health crisis.

"I'm not satisfied with the level of results, I'm just not, I'm pressing all levers," Hochul said.

Hochul says the deal she brokered in Albany made bail laws tougher.

"Repeat offenders, exactly the people you're talking about, are now covered under the old bail laws," she said. "Covered by the old bail laws. People that have an order of protection violated or a hate crime. So we gave those changes, we gave more discretion to judges."

Her opponent, Republican congressman Lee Zeldin of Suffolk County, insists the governor has not gone far enough. That the system needs to be tougher on younger offenders.

"You have some young kid that commits their first offense, you don't want them stuck in some pipeline to prison because of that one charge," Zeldin said. "But what's happening is that that law is being used, where these teenagers are being used to commit crime after crime after crime. So 'Raise the Age' needs to be amended, as well."

Crespo and his brother Eddie are retired transit officers.

"I'm definitely going for Lee Zeldin," Crespo said.

Others say crime is not their number one concern. Subway rider Grace Bailey says she's voting for Hochul.

"It's not only New York, alone," Bailey said. "The whole world has this type of problem."

ALSO READ | Kathy Hochul in Long Island Thursday where polls show Lee Zeldin has closed gap

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