NEW YORK—Republican gubernatorial candidate, Marc Molinaro, released his signature initiative Think Differently at New York City Hall on Oct. 22.
The initiative aims to improve service delivery, increase employment and educational opportunities, and ensure transportation accessibility for people living with special needs.
“I’m presenting to the people of the state of New York a call to action to think differently—to embrace those with different abilities,” Molinaro said.
According to Molinaro, people with developmental disabilities have the highest unemployment rate of any population group in the country; they also face significant challenges to transportation, and access to public facilities, housing, and education.
Molinaro wants to ensure that those who live with developmental disabilities have access to the greatest level of services.
“This plan is a call to action not only for New Yorkers but for state government, to finally take responsibility for a separate and unequal education system—one that treats those with special education as combatants trying to access services,” Molinaro said.
Molinaro understands some of the challenges a family faces living with a person with a developmental disability—his own daughter was born with autism.
“As governor of the state of New York there will never be a stronger advocate for those living with developmental disabilities than me,” Molinaro said, then added he would make it his personal mission.
Molinaro believes that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not done enough for people living with disabilities, but instead considers them an after-thought.
“My job is to start a fire in the hearts of New Yorkers.
“Four more years of this means kids like mine don’t have the leader to stand up and advocate for them.”
Molinaro has previously criticized Cuomo for joking that his brother—CNN reporter Chris Cuomo—has a developmental disability.
America’s Youngest Mayor
Molinaro, 43, was first elected to public office at the age of 18, serving on the Village of Tivoli Board of Trustees. A year later, he became the youngest mayor in America at age 19.
He was re-elected five times and elected four times to the Dutchess County Legislature.
He is the currently vice president of the state’s County Executives Association.
The father of three has always championed rights for the disabled and elderly, receiving numerous awards for his dedication over his career.
Molinaro and Cuomo are expected to participate in a public debate on Oct. 23.