The Two Candidates Talk to the River Journal
The field continues to widen for the soon-to-be open congressional seat in NY-17, a district encompassing Rockland County and parts of Westchester County. Dr. Evelyn Farkas, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Barack Obama, and Allison Fine, the former chairwoman of the national board of National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) Pro Choice America Foundation, announced their campaigns in November. They are competing for the Democratic nomination in the election for the seat held by Rep. Nita Lowey, who recently announced she will retire next year after more than three decades of representing the district.
“I’ve spent my career serving our country and defending democracy, most recently as Obama’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia,” Evelyn Farkas told the River Journal. “But my story starts in Chappaqua, which welcomed my parents with open arms after they fled communist Hungary. My parents came here with nothing, but they worked hard and were able to build a better life for my family. This is where I learned how precious our Democracy is, and how critical it is that we all work to defend it from attacks, foreign and domestic. When Russians interfered in the 2016 election, I was among the first to sound the alarm and urge Congress to take action…We are in an all-hands-on-deck moment in our history, and that’s why I’m running for Congress.”
Farkas, who holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and resides in Chappaqua, comes with some added spotlight, due to her frequent appearances on cable news to discuss politics. Indeed, she first announced her candidacy on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Along with working under Obama, she has been a foreign policy leader in the defense department, Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee and advised former defense secretaries and senators, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Fine also carries with her a national profile, due to her prominent recent background at NARAL. That role has made pro-abortion rights one of Fine’s main focal points. Since she was a founding board member of the tech community organization Civic Hall, her background in the technology realm also plays an important role in her campaign, including data privacy and placing more regulation and taxation on Amazon. The Sleepy Hollow resident told the River Journal why she feels voters should choose her to replace Lowey. “I have a track record of fixing difficult problems and leading people, organizations, and communities in ways that make people feel seen and heard,” she said. “I will focus on full women’s equality including access to capital for entrepreneurs and access to health care, in particular reproductive health care. And I will work hard to make sure that tech is harnessed to serve people, keep our privacy and keep us all safe, particularly our children.”
Fine also added, “I am an unapologetic feminist and a pioneer in using technology for good. Basically: I get stuff done and to paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, I go where the puck is headed not where it is.”
Farkas and Fine join several other candidates already in the race, most prominently New York State Sen. David Carlucci, state Assemblyman David Buchwald, and Mondaire Jones, who worked for the U.S. Department of Justice under Obama. State Sen. Carlucci, who currently represents part of the district in Albany, has been attacked by liberal activists, as well as by Buchwald and Jones, for his past membership in the Independent Democratic Conference—a since-disbanded coalition of Democratic senators who aligned with Republicans. Jones may alienate some Lowey supporters since he entered a primary challenge from the left to the veteran Congresswoman before she announced her retirement. Meanwhile, Buchwald, a former intern to Lowey, was subtly criticized by Jones in an interview with the River Journal for being overly concerned with “getting as many endorsements as possible from Democratic committee members and elected officials.”
So far, Farkas and Fine haven’t taken digs at their opponents and instead placed the focus on the issues they intend to push. Fine said, “I am running for Congress because our country is broken in some fundamental ways. I don’t have to go into detail about it: people who want to vote can’t, the climate is in crisis, and our children are hiding beneath their desks because of rampant gun violence. These are really important problems—and I want to address them—but they’re not the underlying problem. The biggest problem we have that needs fixing is our shrinking middle class…I want to fix the employment problem. More and more people are working as contractors and freelancers. Everyone needs to have benefits and those benefits, like retirement accounts and sick days, need to be portable.”
“My top priority in Congress is to defend our Democracy from foreign interference and from a President intent on undermining the rule of law and eroding our values, so that the next generation has the opportunity to succeed,” said Farkas. “When the President rolls back environmental protections and pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord, our sea levels rise, our communities are destroyed by worsening hurricanes, and our children will be left to pick up the pieces. Climate Change is the single greatest threat to our national security, and we must be active in our fight to combat it…We must enact common sense gun reforms and do better by our children. And we must make sure that every American has access to affordable, quality healthcare, regardless of their age, background, or pre-existing condition, and that we protect the right of every woman to make decisions about her own body.”
Like their male counterparts, Farkas and Fine also spoke highly of Rep. Lowey and how they hoped to honor and build upon the work she accomplished. While more Democrats could yet still enter the race, thus far the Republicans haven’t made any major moves for the seat in what’s considered a Democratic stranglehold. Currently, only John Eisen of White Plains has filed to run on the GOP ticket, while former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is reportedly mulling over mounting a campaign. But there’s still time for others to decide to join: The primary is held on June 23, 2020, ahead of the election on November 3.