ALBANY UPDATES (Cannabis Control Board, Gubernatorial Primary, Hochul Appointments)

Cannabis Control Board Complete

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Governor Hochul announced her final two appointments to the State’s new Cannabis Control Board, which is tasked with creating and implementing regulations for New York’s new cannabis industry. It will also oversee the licensing, production, packaging, marketing and sale of cannabis products around the State. The full Cannabis Control Board consists of:

  • Tremaine Wright as Chair of the Board – Tremaine S. Wright is a former member of the New York State Assembly and currently serves as the Director of the DFS Statewide Office of Financial Inclusion and Empowerment. During her time in the Assembly, she served as Chair of New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus and Chair of the Assembly Subcommittee on Foster Care.
  • Jessica Garcia as Board Member – Garcia is Assistant to the President of the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, UFCW. She has previously served as Deputy Political Director for the RWDSU, Director of Programs and Organizing at New Immigrant Community Empowerment. She currently serves as chair of the board of both the New York Committee for Safety and Health and the Advocacy Institute. She is also Vice-President of the Rural & Migrant Ministry board of directors, and member of the board of the Costa Rican-based organization, Vivir El Sueno.
  • Reuben R. McDaniel III as Board Member – Reuben McDaniel, III is the President and Chief Executive Officer of DASNY. Prior to joining DASNY, McDaniel was an accomplished investment banker with more than 30 years of experience in financial services, including public finance, personal wealth management, corporate finance and private equity. He has also served as Chair of the Atlanta Board of Education for Public Schools.
  • Jen Metzger as Board Member – Jen Metzger is a former State Senator elected in 2018 to represent the 42nd District. During her time in the Senate, Metzger introduced nearly 20 bills as Agriculture Chair, nine of which were signed into law including nation-leading legislation creating a framework for the production, processing, and sale of hemp and CBD products. During her term, 33 of Senator Metzger’s bills were signed into law. Prior to being elected Senator, she worked as the Public Affairs Coordinator for the United Nations Association in New York.
  • Adam W. Perry as Board Member – Perry is a partner at Hodgson Russ LLP where he focuses on employment litigation, and has represented nonprofits, governments and businesses in state and federal courts, and currently serves as a board member and chair of Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Aviation Committee, as well as chair of the Citizen Planning Council.


 2022 Gubernatorial Primary

Shortly after taking office, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that she plans to run for a full term in 2022. Governor Hochul’s first primary challenger may have emerged on September 28th, when New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams announced an exploratory committee for Governor. Williams said that, should he choose to run, he plans to push an ambitiously progressive agenda and make the case that the best way to reform the capital’s culture would be to elect an Albany outsider.

“We have consistently, vocally pushed back on the atmosphere that was there, and I think that’s the type of leadership we need,” Williams said during his announcement. “It’s hard to renew and recover if you have the same old systems and structure that allowed the toxicity, allowed the scandals, allowed egos and personality to get in the way of progress.”

It is also no secret that Attorney General Letitia James is exploring whether to run for Governor in 2022. In recent weeks, she has launched a campaign-like tour of New York State where she plans to highlight the $1.5 billion in opioid settlement funds that will be distributed throughout the State. During this tour she has also been meeting with community leaders to discuss her vision for the State. In a closed-door event for Ulster County Democrats on September 30th, James spoke candidly saying, “You might be wondering about my future plans – just saying. The questions for me really boils down to this: What is the best way that I can make transformational change in the State of New York? I don’t know the answer,” later adding, “That day is coming very soon.”

Following reports of possible primary challengers, State Democratic Committee Chair Jay Jacobs on Monday, October 4thheld a press conference where he endorsed Governor Hochul for a full term. “I have been urging those interested in running for Governor to hold their powder, to wait, and to allow Gov. Hochul to get the job done and make her mark,” he said. “Unfortunately, it seems over the last few days a number of candidates are becoming more anxious and the window is closing for some to make a decision.” Jacobs said that Governor Hochul has already demonstrated that she “can be a great Governor,” noting that she has earned the party’s support after helping Democrats around the State for years.

“She is a pragmatic progressive, a moderate, she will have a message that resonates with the overwhelming majority of New York voters,” Jacobs said. He also said that the party does not need a contentious primary right now. “A party torn apart by multiple candidates in multiple primaries for multiple offices will exhaust precious resources, divide us, and make us weaker in a year that we need to be at our strongest,” he said. During the event, Jacobs stressed that this was his personal endorsement, and he was not making it on behalf of the State party or the Nassau County Democratic Committee.


New Governor Hochul Administration Appointments

Since taking office, Governor Hochul has announced a slew of new administration appointments. Some appointments of note include:

  • Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPS as New Department of Health Commissioner – Dr. Bassett, who currently serves as Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has previously served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
  • Rory M. Christian as Chair of the Public Service Commission – Three months ago, Christian was confirmed by the Senate to the PSC after he was nominated by former Governor Cuomo to serve as a commissioner. From 2013 to 2019, Christian served as the Director of New York Clean Energy at the Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Shirley Paul as Senior Advisor to the Governor – Previously, Paul served as Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs at SUNY Systems Administration, and has served in various state government roles, including Senior Advisor and Counsel to then-Lieutenant Governor Hochul, and as a Law Clerk in the New York State Court System. She also began her career working in then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.
  • Bryan Lesswing as Senior Advisor to the Governor – Lesswing joins the administration as Senior Advisor to the Governor after working as Communications Director for Hochul during her Lieutenant Governorship. He has also served as Communications Director for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s re-election campaign, and in various communications positions as EMILY’s List, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and other electoral campaigns across the nation.
  • Sinead Doherty as Deputy Secretary for Executive Operations – Sinead Doherty, who most recently served as Director of Operations for the Good Tidings Foundations, previously worked for Governor Hochul during her time as Lieutenant Governor as Director of Operations. She has also served as Confidential Assistant to former U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, and as Deputy Director of Advance for Nancy Pelosi.