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Every candidate hopes to win the endorsement of the New York Times.
The Times just published its Congressional endorsements in New York City, and the big news is that it endorsed educator Jamaal Bowman, a steadfast champion of equity, social justice, and public schools over the 16-term incumbent. Jamaal will be a breath of fresh air if he is elected, and one of the very few members of Congress who is a real educator. His voice in needed in D.C.
The Times editorial board wrote:
At a time when millions of voices are calling out for peaceful change, New Yorkers can make an immediate difference with this year’s primary elections. In-person voting begins June 13 and ends June 23; voting by absentee ballot has already begun. The nation badly needs new faces, new energy, new talent and new ideas.
This is not to say that every incumbent needs to be retired. Congressman Jerry Nadler (District 10, parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (District 12, the East Side of Manhattan, parts of Queens and northern Brooklyn) have shown their commitment to their districts time and again and should be returned to Congress. But in other places, where there is no incumbent or the current representative has lost the fire to fight for his or her constituents at home and in Washington, we offer these choices for Democratic House primaries, where victory means almost-certain election in the New York City region.
DISTRICT 15 (South Bronx): In a competitive race to replace the departing Congressman Jose Serrano, voters have a choice between Ritchie Torres, an unusually effective member of the New York City Council, and the Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr., a candidate opposed to equal rights for women and gay people, who doesn’t belong in today’s Democratic Party. Though the race is filled with other impressive candidates who would very likely make excellent members of Congress, Mr. Torres appears the best positioned to beat Mr. Díaz, an urgent task.
DISTRICT 9 (Park Slope, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and more): For nearly 14 years, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke has represented this large, vibrant area of Brooklyn. In 2018, we supported Adem Bunkeddeko, a talented challenger with ambitious plans for affordable housing who is back for a second try. This time, Isiah James, a promising young Army combat veteran and democratic socialist who has also promised to focus on housing, is in the race, too, though he has struggled with fund-raising. Another candidate, New York City Council member Chaim Deutsch, hasn’t shown up for the debates and is instead vying for votes with a campaign of fearmongering.
In 2018, Ms. Clarke barely won the primary race against Mr. Bunkeddeko, with 53 percent of the vote. In her current term, she has taken a more active role in her district, a welcome change.
But once again, Mr. Bunkeddeko represents the best chance at getting a more vibrant voice for the district. Mr. Bunkeddeko, 32, grew up in Queens and is focused on securing federal dollars for public and affordable housing. He also wants to create a federal program that would help moderate- and lower-income New Yorkers become homeowners, exactly the vision needed in the district and in Congress. As he put it, housing needs were “a five-alarm fire” even before the job losses of the coronavirus pandemic. He has also supported a public option for Medicare as a way to move toward Medicare for all.
His life story is inspiring. Mr. Bunkeddeko is the son of refugees from Uganda who has earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He has experience in government working for the Empire State Development Corporation, the state entity that helps drive economic investment into New York. He deserves the support of voters in the Ninth District.
DISTRICT 14 (eastern Bronx and north-central Queens): Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez needs no introduction. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez may be the most talented young politician in the country. In her first term, she helped build a national progressive movement, becoming a leading voice on climate change, income inequality and racist policing. Her masterly questioning of the former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen before the House Oversight and Reform Committee last year helped reveal the extent of Mr. Trump’s misconduct.
If, as we hope, she wins a second term, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should devote energy and resources to constituent services, one area where her community is hungry for more of her attention. Her competitors in this year’s primary, including Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former Republican and CNBC journalist who says she wants to focus on jobs, have tried to capitalize on Mr. Ocasio-Cortez’s national, rather than local, focus.
Ms. Ocasio Cortez’s shortcomings as a community representative, which can be remedied if she puts her mind to it, are not reason enough to deny re-election to someone who has been such a determined champion of vulnerable people everywhere.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioning Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, at a House Financial Services Committee hearing last fall.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioning Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, at a House Financial Services Committee hearing last fall.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times
DISTRICT 16 (northern parts of the Bronx and southern half of Westchester County, including Mt. Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle and Rye): The current representative — Eliot Engel — has been in Congress since 1989, and his connections to the district seem to have frayed.
He was criticized for not returning home even as the coronavirus raged through communities he represents, particularly New Rochelle. When he did return for this race, he was caught on a hot mic pushing for a chance to speak during a protest rally, saying, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”
His main challenger is Jamaal Bowman, an educator for more than 20 years and a fierce advocate for public schools. Mr. Bowman helped found a public middle school in the Bronx, the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, and promises to work for all of the district, including sections he says have been neglected during Mr. Engel’s time in Congress.
Mr. Bowman says he wants to see the United States adopt a kind of Marshall Plan for climate change, jobs, housing and education. “We need political imagination,” he said. In a district that needs new energy, Mr. Bowman will bring it.
DISTRICT 17 (Rockland and northwestern Westchester Counties): The retirement of Nita Lowey after 31 years in office has made for quite a race, with seven contenders fighting it out.
The best candidate to replace her is Mondaire Jones, an official in the Department of Justice in the Obama administration and a former lawyer in the Westchester County Law Department.
For Mr. Jones, policy is personal. The child of a single mother who relied on food stamps and lived in Section 8 housing, he eventually graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and he supports universal child care and tuition-free college. Mr. Jones is a candidate who can finally bring representation to every part of this diverse district, which spans Rockland and Westchester Counties, and includes great wealth as well as pockets of deep poverty.
Evelyn Farkas, another candidate in the race, has significant support from the Democratic establishment, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Representative Tom Malinowski and Emily’s List. A former deputy assistant secretary of defense specializing in Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, Ms. Farkas helped create a strategy to protect Ukraine from Russian military intervention and was among the first to warn about Russian aid to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Also among the leading candidates is State Senator David Carlucci, who is backed by powerful unions like Teamsters Local 445, a union that represents bus drivers, construction workers, warehouse workers and more. Mr. Carlucci promises to expand tenant protection and create mixed-use housing across the district. He was part of a breakaway group of Democrats in the New York Senate who worked with the Republicans who controlled the chamber at the time. Though he argues that his defection was meant to aid a district moving rapidly from rural to urban, Mr. Carlucci was also a great help to Republicans in blocking Democratic reforms.
Assemblyman David Buchwald, who represents part of the Congressional district, has strong local support and some credibility fighting corruption in Albany. His vote against a landmark housing bill last year that restored sorely needed protections for renters in New York City and elsewhere is, however, disqualifying.
Allison Fine, a former chair of NARAL-Pro-Choice America who calls herself an “unapologetic feminist,” argues that it’s time for someone “outside the system to bring in new ideas and energy.”
Asha Castleberry-Hernandez is a major in the Army Reserves, a former State Department adviser and a lecturer in foreign policy and global security. Though she is not our choice for this seat this year, Ms. Castleberry-Hernandez has the kind of talent that deserves to be encouraged.
Voters in the 17th District are fortunate to have so many talented people vying to represent them in Washington. Mondaire Jones has earned our endorsement as the most promising and the most prepared.