Nonprofit leaders appreciate governor's race shakeup

Nonprofit leaders say they are open to supporting Cynthia Nixon's primary challenge against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At a recent gathering of staff members from nonprofits around the greater metropolitan area, New York Nonprofit Media took a quick poll to gauge the sector’s thoughts on Cynthia Nixon’s run for governor and her challenge to the Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

The award-winning star of the television series “Sex in the City” who has a light political resume that features activism around women’s rights, LGBT rights and education, is running for governor in a state where the nonprofit sector generates some $260 billion in revenue. Her strategy so far has been to court minority and downstate voters. Her first campaign stop was before a small mostly black audience in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Among those at the Manhattan gathering who knew of Nixon and were willing to speak on the record, the sentiment ranged from approval of her run to skepticism about her qualifications. But all seemed to be glad to have an outsider’s voice in the race for statewide office.

Ruth Miller, executive director of the Engineering Information Foundation didn’t really know Nixon’s positions and felt confident Cuomo would win – but thought Nixon could be “terrific.”

“(Anybody) that’s going to make him take a look at what he’s done, and what he could do better, it’s always good,” Miller said.

Given Nixon’s relative lack of experience, Miller suggested Nixon might have a better chance running for City Council – but applauded her for trying.

Grace Beasley Matthews, director of human resources at West Harlem Group Assistance, a nonprofit specializing in affordable housing, didn’t know who Nixon was but hoped whoever held the position would step up Cuomo’s work supporting human services.

“Take some of the things he’s done and do more, for families, for homeless, affordable housing,” Matthews said. 

Gilbert Sabater, a board member with the Institute for Motivating Adolescents and Nourishing Insight (IMANI), thought that regardless of Nixon’s political resume, Cuomo should be worried. 

“I’m glad that somebody is finally challenging him. All the promises that he’s made he’s not delivered. Especially the one on corruption.” Sabater said. “He’s going to have to answer questions he doesn’t want to answer. It doesn’t matter (if Nixon wins) I think that he wants to run for the White House, that’s his dream, and I think that unless he answers her, that dream is gone.”

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