From the Morning Memo:

The state Department of Motor Vehicles has been without a permanent commissioner for several years now, but that should soon come to an end.

A source confirmed reports that Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder is resigning his city post to run the DMV. Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said the change can’t come soon enough.

“The one thing I do know about Mark is he will listen, and believe me, he will be hearing from me a lot because there are many things that need to change,” Kearns said. “There are many things that are broken at the state DMV. We haven’t had a leader there in a long time.”

In many ways, Kearns and Schroeder are cut from the same cloth. Both served the same South Buffalo Assembly district known for its “conservative Democratic” politics.

They also both have been known for sometimes bucking party leadership. Schroeder challenged Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in 2017, who also happens to be the state Democratic Party chairman, compliments of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At the moment, it happens to be Kearns who is in worse standing with local Democrats, having run and won two recent races for clerk on the Republican line.

Similarities aside, Kearns said geography could be one of the most important things he and Schroeder have in common as his former colleague prepares to ascend to a new post.

“Obviously, if you have a commissioner that’s from Western New York, he is going to understand Upstate and Western New York and hopefully he won’t forget about us,” he said.

Despite all their history, it’s possible that the relationship between Schroeder and Kearns could quickly sour.

The county comptroller has been steadfast in his vow not to process drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, which is a top priority for a number of progressive advocacy groups as the Democrats prepare to take control of the entire state Legislature kin Albany.

Cuomo has already indicated his willingness to sign this legislation if it passes both houses, and he is also the one who would appoint the new DMV chief. Kearns said he doesn’t know Schroeder’s stance on the issue, but said if he plans to enforce any new driver’s license law, he’ll face a fight – and not just in Buffalo.

“He may be in for a tempest of a storm with the county clerks throughout the state of New York if that matter gets passed by the Legislature, and that’s something that I want to warn him on,” he said.

There’s history on this issue dating back to the days of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who had to retreat from his push to give undocumented immigrations driver’s licenses after a significant backlash against the proposal, which even tripped up then Sen. Hillary Clinton during her first presidential run.

And leading the charge against the idea at the time: Then Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, who, of course, is now Cuomo’s lieutenant governor. Back then, though, she vowed to have immigrants arrested if they showed up at her local office to apply for a license.

Schroeder has not made any official comment on this subject, and his office indicated he would not do so until Cuomo announced any appointment.