One-Time Professor Leads Unlikely Bid for Governorship

Though Stephanie Miner is unlikely to make it to Albany, the former Mayor of Syracuse hopes to eliminate partisan gridlock.



Stephanie Miner

Sarah Jackson , News Editor

She once ran an NYU Wagner class and the city of Syracuse. Now, she hopes to run the state.

Stephanie Miner, a Visiting Distinguished Urbanist at NYU Wagner during the spring 2018 semester, has had her hands full since she announced in June that she would run as an independent candidate for governor of New York.

A lifelong Democrat, Miner served as the first female mayor of Syracuse from 2010 to 2017. Her decision to run as an independent in this year’s gubernatorial election was spurred on by her disillusionment with the political gridlock she witnessed as mayor.

“Having been an agent of change inside the system, I think real change needs to happen from outside,” Miner said in an interview with WSN. “It became clear to me in my journey as mayor that the status quo of politics in New York state was such that elected officials from both parties were much more interested in re-election than they were in solving problems, and that this culture of corruption needed to be upended if we were ever really going to have a good public policy.”

Besides calling for nonpartisan redistricting, campaign finance reform and changes to existing voting laws, Miner also has other goals she hopes to reach if elected.

“With job creation, I think the best way that we can do that is by eliminating the economic development programs that New York state has, which have been complete failures, mired in corruption,” she said. “Take that money and invest it in infrastructure, infrastructure that is old like roads and bridges and transit but also new like fiber, so that the free market can use those infrastructure systems to actually create jobs.”

She received approximately 41,000 signatures nearly three times as many as the 15,000 required to run on the ballot as a candidate for a new political party, the bipartisan Serve America Movement (SAM). Launched in 2017 and run by former George Bush staffers and a Morgan Stanley lawyer, the Denver-based political party is born out of dissatisfaction with the presidential candidates in the 2016 election.

Sarah Lenti, its CEO and a former director of the National Security Council under Condoleezza Rice, says the 3,600-member strong group is thrilled to back Miner. Although SAM has endorsed three other independent candidates, Miner is currently the only candidate in this year’s elections nationwide that will run on SAM’s line.

“We’re a new entity, just formed, and we are playing in the New York gubernatorial race,” Lenti told WSN. “We’re very excited about Stephanie and her running mate, Mike Volpe; we think they are an incredible team. They are what New York needs.”

Still, Miner will have some hurdles to overcome on the way to Albany. For one, her campaign, has only raised $410,000, a small fraction of the funds raised by the current candidate to beat, incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

“We don’t think we have to raise $30 million,” Miner said. “We just have to raise enough money to get our message out.”

Miner seems likewise unfazed by her competition in the crowded race.

“I think the more people that are in the process, talking about public policy and how to solve problems, it’s better off for all New Yorkers,” she said. “There are a lot of concerns in doing this [in] this nontraditional way and trying to do something that is such a monumental challenge, but I think that the citizens of the state want to have more dialogue, they want to have more substance, they want to have real choices, and that’s what I think that I am adding to this discussion.”

Email Sarah Jackson at [email protected].