Gov. George E. Pataki
Albany, NY
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
  Prepared Remarks

A few months after September 11th, someone gave my daughter Emily an old photograph. It was a picture of my father, a volunteer firefighter in Peekskill, at the end of a ladder, with flames shooting through the roof of a building a few feet in front of his face.

I've come to treasure this photo, because it reminds me not only of where I came from, but why I ended up here.

As a postman, farmer and a family man, my Dad had his hands full. But he always had time for a kind word, a neighborly gesture, or to lend a helping hand as a volunteer in our community.

My Dad made me realize that, at the end of each day, the best thing you can feel is that somehow during that day you've made life a little better for your family, for your neighbors, and for your community.

In his quiet way, by example really, I learned the source of the strength of New York. It is the people who give it strength, going about their daily lives, working, playing, raising their families, but always giving something back to their neighbors - the people I have called our quiet heroes.

When you grow up with that belief, the best job you could ever have would be to serve the public good, and in New York there is no better opportunity to serve than as your Governor.

You have given me that privilege three times over, a job that I love, a responsibility I have embraced, and an office that I have been honored to hold for the last ten and a half years.

Your help, your dedication, your trust has given me the tremendous honor and privilege to serve as your Governor.

I thank you for that honor, and I thank you for that privilege.

Through the years we have overcome challenges and tragedy.

And together, we've done some amazing things.

Beginning in 1995 when we worked together to reinvigorate our economy, improve our quality of life and restore the spirit of hope.

Then through the dark days of September 11th when we stood together to face unprecedented human tragedy and answered hatred with heroism, cowardice with courage.

And in the days, months and years that followed that terrible day, when we were confronted with new economic and fiscal difficulties - the likes of which had not been seen since the Great Depression - we have overcome challenges not seen in generations.

And yet today we can look forward to tomorrow with the confidence and optimism we are entitled to feel as New Yorkers, as residents of this great state, in the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Today, we have more opportunity and less welfare than we did back in 1995;

Today, New York has safer streets and less crime;

Today, New York has more jobs and lower taxes;

Today, we have higher education standards, record school aid and the STAR program to help lower school property taxes;

And today we have almost one million acres more of open space, cleaner air and cleaner water than we did in 1995.

Together we have changed the fundamental direction of this state to one that empowers the individual, and not the government.

New York is a different state, a better state than it was ten years ago.

We've done a lot together, and yet there is always more to do.

But there is one thing I've understood from my very first day in public office: that as elected officials we are only temporary stewards of the people's trust.

So today, with pride in our accomplishments, enduring enthusiasm for New York's future and heartfelt gratitude to its people, I am announcing that I will not seek another term as your Governor.

I want to thank first of all, Libby who has stood by me and worked with me as we set out on this challenging journey; To, Emily, Teddy, Ali, Owen and my entire family who from my early days as Mayor have allowed me to pursue my desire for public service which often comes at enormous personal sacrifice; and to my Mom, who with Dad instilled that belief in public service in me, thank you.

There are others who have sacrificed: the people in this room, and the thousands of others across this State, who stood beside me in government and in my campaigns throughout these past years. You are the people who made New York the "Empire State" once again.

You've made us proud. And New York thanks you.

But to me, my greatest thanks are owed to the people of New York, because it is your faith and your passion that first gave me this extraordinary privilege, and it is your continued confidence and commitment that allows me to stand here today as our nation's longest serving Governor.

Soon it will be time for another New Yorker to lead the State that you and I love and to use his or her talents to try to make our neighborhoods and our families and our communities just a little bit stronger.

But first, let me say this to the people of New York:

I have another year and a half to serve as your Governor. Every day I'm going to continue to do my very best to try to make New York a better, safer, cleaner, and stronger state than when we first started out together.

Working together we've made extraordinary progress and overcome unspeakable adversity, and all along I was able to do the job because you believed in me.

In a year and a half, I will be able to leave this office confident in the future of our great state, because I believe in you.

In the meantime, we're going to keep this State moving forward and come 2007, I will follow a new path, find new challenges, knowing that I am leaving the State we love in the best hands possible - yours.

May God Bless the people of New York State.

Thank you for the privilege. Thank you for the honor.

Now let's get back to work.