This year’s congressional primaries are coming upon New Yorkers quickly. The process for this year’s elections is one that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars and hold an election at a time when New Yorkers are not used to going to the polls, due to a recent court decision. The congressional primaries will be held on June 26, and the New York Amsterdam News’ endorsements are as follows
5th Congressional District: Gregory Meeks
Rep. Gregory Meeks has served his district for the past 14 years. He has been committed to the needs of the community and has shown leadership in trying to keep our people in their homes through this downward economy. He has worked hard to revitalize southeast Queens. Meeks is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee, where he was the former chairman of the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade. His position on the committee is paramount to his work ensuring fair banking policies and fairness in lending areas where African-Americans have needed, and continue to need, a strong, self-assured voice.
He has made the often forgotten Rockaways a priority, and we expect he will give the same type of attention to the newly included Nassau communities of Elmont and Inwood, which are now a part of his district. His commitment and steadfastness are why we again endorse Gregory Meeks for the newly created 5th Congressional District.
7th Congressional District: Nydia Velazquez
Rep. Nydia Velazquez is an impassioned woman who delivers for her community. A 20-year member of the House of Representatives, Velazquez has been a fighter for equal rights for the underrepresented and a proponent of economic opportunity for the working-class and poor.
This year, she has three opponents. None of them have the experience or depth of passion that she has for her community. It appears that part of her opposition comes from some score-settling in Brooklyn political circles. Her votes on the Hill have been courageous and her actions in her district warrior-like. She voted against the war and the Patriot Act. She has fought to open doors with federal contracting for minority contractors through her position on the Committee on Small Business.
Velazquez has made a priority of expanding opportunities to those in her district, which includes the neighborhoods of Bushwick, East New York and Williamsburg, all of which have large Black populations, and about which we are particularly concerned. The emphasis she has placed on education, job creation, housing and immigration reform are key concerns for our communities. She has opposed the co-location of charter schools and has been responsible for helping bring 21,000 units of housing to her district.
Velazquez continues to fight for what she believes in and what we believe in, and that is why the Amsterdam News wants to send her back to Washington for another term. That is why we endorse Nydia Velazquez in the newly created 7th Congressional District.
8th Congressional District: Charles Barron
The 8th Congressional District has been in the hands of Rep. Ed Towns for decades. He has served his community well. As he retires, there are two who came before the New York Amsterdam News for our endorsement.
Both Hakeem Jeffries and Charles Barron have been endorsed by the Amsterdam News in the past for various positions. Both are extremely capable and both would do well by the constituents of the 8th District. Ideally, we would love a candidate who has the fire and soul of Barron and the practicality and affable nature of Jeffries. But we must only choose one.
Barron embodies the soul of the community. He has been on the front lines fighting for the needs and the hopes of the people. It has not always a smooth ride; Barron can be both arrogant and stubborn, but those qualities are what has made him the successful freedom fighter he is.
Jeffries is more moderate and more palatable to some, but at this point, this seat needs fire–someone who might just take Washington by its ear and make it listen. We need attention brought to our communities, and a leader who will do that is Barron. He has delivered for his community, bringing affordable housing, new school buildings and renovating parks. He has helped bring millions of dollars to CUNY and has learned how to be a coalition builder in the City Council. He has taken difficult positions and has been the lone council member to vote against city budgets. He understands the budgeting process and all of the holes and hidden agendas within them. He will bring a new type of fight to Washington and that is why we endorse Charles Barron for the 8th Congressional District.
13th Congressional District: Charles B. Rangel
Rep. Charles B. Rangel has represented Harlem for over 40 years. His leadership in Congress created the Empowerment Zone legislation that led to the revitalization of inner-city communities all over the country. He has delivered for New York time and time again. His leadership helped facilitate bipartisan support for the first minimum wage hike in over a decade. He fought for the expansion of the earned income tax credit and spearheaded programs that subsidized the employment of hundreds of thousands of youth, veterans and ex-offenders by providing tax incentives to employers. He has supported and secured funding for major hospital and health center expansion and construction as well as securing an addition $400 million in Medicare payments to local hospitals.
Rangel has worked across the aisle for decades and understands how the other side works. He understands what they are trying to do to our communities and believes it is not time for him to leave the fight, but to lead the charge.
While he has several opponents in the race, the one who has gotten the most press of late is Adriano Espaillat. Espaillat did not even bother to respond to the Amsterdam News’ endorsement meeting announcement. Maybe he believes the Black community is not one he needs to reach out to in representing the newly constituted district.
Joyce Johnson also sat with the editorial board, and while we applaud her political experience as a district leader, the editorial board felt her lean track record in elective office left her lacking as a candidate for the seat.
Clyde Williams, who is making his debut running for political office, did come to the endorsement meeting, and made a very powerful presentation. His experience in government and political pedigree is impressive, but we believe he needs to get reacquainted with the community –he has only recently moved back to the district–before he can think of representing it. He has good ideas and good connections, but no experience as an elected official.
We look forward to seeing Williams in the future, but for today, Rangel is still the man we want to see representing the newly created 13th Congressional District. That is why we endorse Charles B. Rangel for Congress.