Term-limited Queens Councilmember Rory Lancman is leaving the legislative body Tuesday to take a job in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. Lancman’s departure will trigger a special election to fill his District 24 seat.
Lancman will serve as the state’s first Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection, a role in which he will represent the interests of residential and commercial customers of utility companies and some telecom providers. The role was created as part of Cuomo’s efforts to hold utilities, including electric companies, accountable for poor service and outages.
“Utility companies do not have a God-given right to operate in New York, and when they abuse and bully consumers they must be held accountable,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Lancman said he was eager to take on the job, particularly in light of recent power outages in Queens.
“Every time there’s a storm it seems power goes out and thats not acceptable,” he told the Eagle Friday.
Lancman said he was not angling for a new job but was approached by the governor. He will start out Wednesday at the commission’s headquarters in Albany, before working in state offices in Manhattan and Plainview, on Long Island.
“We all know that being a councilmember has an expiration date, and while I was in no rush to leave before my term ended, the idea of a ‘next thing’ is on the mind of every term-limited councilmember,” he said. “I was attracted to the idea of doing very meaningful work.”
Lancman shot down speculation that the job was a quid pro quo in exchange for dropping out of the Queens District Attorney’s race a few days before the June 2019 Democratic Primary. Cuomo had backed Lancman’s opponent Melinda Katz in that race and Lancman’s exit likely helped Katz secured the votes for a close victory.
“People shouldn’t have their minds filled with conspiracy theories,” he said. “When I dropped out there were no offers or anything. It was the right thing to do and the realpolitik thing to do.”
It was actually the real apparatchik thing to do.