Because of the timing of the primary for New York Congressional elections, the New York Amsterdam News held an endorsement meeting for the June 6 for the New York Congressional primary on June 28. As always, we announced the endorsement meeting on the front page of the paper for several weeks before the meeting. All candidates were invited via the announcement. Only those who appeared before us were considered for endorsement.
13th Congressional District
Several candidates seeking to be the next representative from 13th Congressional District, assuming a post held for 46 years by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, were interviewed Monday at the Amsterdam News. Although the candidates we saw each had something to offer to the community, it was clear to us that we needed a candidate who understood the legislative process, had great experience and was dedicated to the community that he or she would serve.
Although we talked about several of the candidates and their strengths, we must say at the outset that Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright is our candidate. Few political leaders in Harlem have the pedigree and experience of Wright. Recounting his legislative career is to cite a veritable history of politics in our community. His recognition as a formidable leader and one capable of following in the enormous footprint of his predecessor was given a huge boost when Wright was endorsed by Rep. Rangel. Rangel said, “Keith is not afraid to stand side-by-side with activists—even willing to risk arrest to stand up for our hardest working brothers and sisters.”
We didn’t need to wait for the esteemed congressman’s endorsement. But Rangel’s approval confirms what many in our community believe—Keith can do the job, and as far as we’re concerned, the job is his.
It’s his job because we have studied his record over the years, we have seen how effective he has been in bringing home the goods from Albany for his constituents,and we possess the unwavering conviction that he will continue to be steadfast and quick to navigate the tricky congressional terrain. That being said, we expect to see Wright going above and beyond and not playing politics as usual.
Check his record. It reflects an elected official who is serious about representing his district, a man of unimpeachable integrity who from day-one will be ready to grasp the baton from Rangel the long-distance runner and cross the finish line with the same brilliance and insight we experienced from Rangel.
Wright is the right man, at the right time, in certainly in the right place.
Other candidates that we will mention include Ambassador Suzan “Sujay” Johnson Cook. An ordained minister, she is the only woman in the race, and she warmly articulated her biography, beginning with her mother, a Harlem school teacher, and her father, a MTA motorman, who became a successful small business owner. Johnson Cook has deep roots in Harlem and her lifelong commitment to communities of faith was clearly outlined for the paper’s board members.
She has impressive bona fides and is the first woman to hold a diplomatic post of Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom representing President Barack Obama.
“My whole life has been devoted to bringing people together, and that will be one of the central goals if I should be elected to fill Congressman Rangel’s seat,” Johnson Cook said. She plans to meet with the congressman to get his advice on how to navigate the political terrain in Washington, D.C. When asked her reaction as a freshman to a Congress controlled by Republicans, she said her experience working as a White House fellow and dealing with non-partisan issues prepared her for such encounters.
Guillermo Linares, a soft-spoken man with considerable service in public office, let the board know immediately about his distinction as the first Dominican-born elected official in the U.S. That breakthrough occurred in 1991 and for the next decade or so he served on the City Council. From 2011 to 2012, he was a member of the New York State Assembly, representing the 72nd District.
He recently received his doctorate in education, a discipline that began many years ago when he was a teacher. Linares played a decisive role in the creation of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College, as well as the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.
When asked what would be among his key issues if he becomes the representative, he stressed the importance of affordable housing. “It all begins there,” he said. “People need to have decent housing before they can do anything else.” But, overall, he said there was a concern about bringing all three levels of government together—federal, state and the city. He said it was time for the entire community to be as one, and that will be one of his missions as a congressman.
Like Johnson Cook, Clyde Williams has never held elected office, but from his working relationship with presidents Clinton and Obama, he has acquired a wealth of political information, particularly about the intricacies of governmental operations.
The bounty of these connections were shared with the board as he recounted his experiences in Washington, D.C. Most rewardingly from his brief meeting was the passion he demonstrated in making supplemental nutrition assistance and school lunches available for low-income families. He was equally ebullient recalling his days at the helm of Clinton’s Harlem initiative to salvage small businesses, an endeavor in which he secured more than $300,000, he explained. The money was earmarked for medical treatments. Through his connection with the Clinton administration, Williams moved to Harlem, but after his wife became Deputy Chief of Staff to President Obama, he was back in the nation’s capital, where he was tireless advocate for Obama and the DNC.
Technology, innovation and education were among the objectives of his campaign to be the next congressman. “I have two small children,” he said, “so education is definitely a priority on my agenda.” He emphasized the need for our children to begin their learning as early as possible. Something must be done, he added, “Because we are failing our children.”
But in the end we strongly endorse Keith L.T. Wright to succeed Charles B. Rangel as the 13th Congressional District representative.
15th Congressional District
We unequivocally endorse Rep. Jose Serrano in his re-election bid in the 15th Congressional District. Serrano, a Democrat, has always kept his hands on the pulse of his community, making sure he is informed of the issues and the needs. As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, he knows how to guarantee his constituents a fair share of federal funds. He is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, as well as a member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science.
10th Congressional District
Jerrold Nadler is seeking his 13th term as a representative in the 10th Congressional District, and that experience and his accomplishments make him an easy endorsement for us. Nadler is the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. He sits on the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. He, along with other representatives, played a decisive role in the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Nadler is the second ranking Democrat, behind John Conyers, on the Judiciary Committee.
12th Congressional District
Even since she was elected to Congress in 1992, Carolyn Maloney has been a tireless advocate on sundry issues, and she is known for determination to battle to the end to get one her bills through. That tenacity over the years has paid off for her constituents, who send her back every two years to represent them. One of the bills she seems most proud of is the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights. It was signed into law by President Obama in 2009. But she is never one to rest on her laurels. For that reason and her total commitment to her voters, we endorse Carolyn Maloney to continue her successful job in the 12th Congressional District.