Senate Democratic candidate Ted O’Brien is holding a news conference tomorrow with 82-year old Geraldine Sullivan, who Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted during his first State of the State address in 2011.
Cuomo pointed to Sullivan, of Irondequoit, Monroe County, as an example of people who are struggling with the state’s high taxes. He said she went back to work as a lunch monitor because she couldn’t afford her taxes. He said the state needed a property-tax cap—which was, in fact, approved six months later.
“Geraldine we understand your problems, help is on the way,” Cuomo said. “We will pass a property tax cap, Geraldine, once and for all. Geraldine, we applaud your spirit and your strength and your tenacity; let’s give Geraldine a big New York round of applause.”
O’Brien has sought to highlight the state’s high property taxes as he runs against Republican Sean Hanna for an open Monroe County seat. But he’s backed by the state teacher’s union, which has vowed to fight the tax cap—an endorsement that Hanna continues to criticize.
“When seniors are forced back to work simply because they can’t pay their property tax bills, you know things have gotten out of control,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I see pain and anxiety in seniors eyes’ whenever I talk about property taxes with them. We have to get property taxes until control so our seniors can retire with dignity.”
In a statement, Sullivan said she supports O’Brien, a county legislator.
“I thought I was retired, but at 81, rising property taxes I couldn’t afford drove me back to work,” Sullivan said in the statement. “I worked hard all my life and saved money for retirement, but it just wasn’t enough. Ted O’Brien is the only candidate in this race who’s voted against property tax increases because he understands how they’re tearing our community apart.”
Updated: Senate Republicans don’t like O’Brien’s message here.
“It’s stunning watching Ted O’ Brien talk out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to property taxes,” said Scott Reif, spokesman for Senate Republicans.
“How can he be sympathetic to the plight of fixed-income seniors like Geraldine Sullivan and still accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from the same special interests who are filing a lawsuit to overturn the governor’s property tax cap? If Ted O’Brien wanted to be honest, he would tell Ms. Sullivan that he is seeking to join the same New York City-led Senate Democrat conference who took away her STAR rebate check two years ago.”