Every two years, congressional candidates make their rounds to editorial boards across the city to ask for the papers’ endorsements. This year, those visits came early. In fact, they were over three months early, due to the move of Democratic congressional primaries to June 24 this year. As we usually do, the Amsterdam News posted on our front page the notice of endorsement meetings, and from those interviews, here are our Democratic primary endorsements for 2014:
Harlem has been known as the seat of Black political power in New York City for decades. From Adam Clayton Powell Jr. holding the venerable congressional seat for years, to David Paterson becoming governor to the peerless leadership of the Gang of Four, Harlem has held onto that power and been the center for a base that has changed the face of New York City many times over.
Over the decades, the number on the congressional seat has changed many times, but in recent memory, the only man to occupy that position has been Rep. Charles B. Rangel. Rangel first became a congressman when he narrowly defeated Powell in the highly contested 1970 congressional primary. For the last 43 years, he has served the community of Harlem as its congressman.
During the most recent redistricting, the boundaries for the district changed significantly, including parts of the Bronx, and changing the demographics of the district substantially. That being said, the district still remains the center of Harlem’s power base.
This year’s contest brings with it three challengers to Rangel’s tenure: state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, pastor Michael Walrond Jr. and Yolanda Garcia. Espaillat challenged the congressman before and lost in a close race. Walrond, who seems to have a strong following from his church and has age on his side, has never run for public office.
Rangel, on the other hand, has become a fixture in Harlem politics. At this point, he wants to continue to help our sitting president make the last two years of his presidency as productive as possible. Over the last 10 years in Congress, Rangel has passed more laws than any other member of Congress and is ranked among the best in a number of important categories.
Though Rangel has previously had health problems, he is now as spry as we have seen him in the last 10 years. Full of power and strength and with a lot of pep in his step, he comes to this race with a rekindled sense of purpose, pride and accomplishment. He deserves another two years in office. He needs to finish all that he has started and wrap up a stellar career on a high note. The community would be ill-advised not to return him to Congress, because he is the only candidate that has a proven record and has delivered for this community year after year after year. Moreover, his experience and his seniority guarantee he will be in the room when major bills are discussed. That is why the New York Amsterdam News wholeheartedly endorses Rep. Charles B. Rangel for re-election to the 13th Congressional District.
If Gregory Meeks, the incumbent representative in the 5th District (formerly of the 6th) is being contested, we have no idea who the challenger is, and it probably wouldn’t make much difference anyway, as Meeks has been a tireless advocate for his constituents. Since 1997, they have returned him each election cycle to Congress and that’s testament enough, though equally impressive are the number of bills he has sponsored and the committees on which he holds a seat.
During his visit with us, he spoke passionately about the situation in Nigeria, where nearly 300 young girls have been abducted by members of the Boko Haram. Meeks said that the Nigerian government should be forced to step up its measures to rescue the young ladies who were taken several weeks ago. He said he wouldn’t be opposed to using drones to rescue the girls, though they would have to be mindful of keeping the girls out of harm’s way.
As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Meeks is in a position to affect some action on this pressing international issue. He is similarly poised to do something about the nation’s dilapidated infrastructure as a member of the House Committee on Financial Services.
Meeks also expressed some very strong opinions about the wave of foreclosures; this issue has been a major concern in his district, which is located mainly in southeastern Queens and comprised of middle and upper middle-class African-Americans and West Indians. The various sessions and community town hall meetings on foreclosures and predatory lending have obviously gained some traction in his district, and voters there have demonstrated their appreciation at the ballot box.
We would like to add our approval with a strong endorsement for Meeks, with the hope that he can accomplish just a few of the things on his commendable wish list.