On November 6, Congress-woman Nita Lowey won a 16th term to the US Congress representing New York’s 17th District, which covers parts of Westchester and Rockland Counties.
Following her re-election to the Congress, Lowey called the River Journal to address a few issues that are top-of-mind for her and her congressional colleagues.
Last month, the River Journal wrote an article (www.riverjournalonline/DrugArrest) about the increase in cannabis-laced edibles and vaping products targeting our kids. How are you and members of Congress addressing the issue?
Vaping gets kids hooked right away, and they think it’s harmless. In April 2018, I really challenged Commissioner Gottlieb (Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the Food and Drugs Administration) on the agency’s approach to e-cigarettes, particularly Juuls. At the time, he said he was focusing on lowering the nicotine in cigarettes and getting adult and teen smokers off cigarettes. Now he’s come my way, because he understands that this is everywhere. My grandchildren were telling me that even 13- and 14-year olds are hooked on e-cigarettes.
I’ve done many round tables in Westchester with students, local officials, community leaders, medical experts. It’s really just everywhere. It’s really scary. I’ve been getting youngsters, parents, and professionals involved because it is very upsetting. It’s really an epidemic. Kids are getting hooked at an early age.
We as adults, whether you are a Congresswoman or a parent or a community activist, have to make up our minds and work together because it’s the only way you can protect these youngsters from the dangers that exist. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the River Journal to sound the alarm for all the people in our community.
What’s being done on a broader scale about bringing marijuana-laced products into NY from states where they are legal?
Frankly, it’s something we are working on but I cannot say we’ve accomplished it yet. I’m trying to work with Com-missioner Gottlieb; in fact he’s agreed to come to the district so I will let you know when that happens.
You’ve addressed issues related to the Post Office recently. Do you see any progress in improving the service they provide in our communities?
I’ve been working on that for so long. I wish I could say successfully, but I can’t. This is a huge, huge issue. I’ve had meetings with the head of the postal service and I’m not giving up. We get complaints constantly so I am on it. The person who delivers my mail is such a nice man, and he does such a good job. I feel badly that all of those good people are smeared by the negative publicity that’s going on. So we are looking into it again because I have not gotten a satisfactory response. I wish I heard more praise than complaints but we get constant complaints. It’s a real problem but I am working on it.
You recently attended an event related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education in Westchester. Can you tell us more about what’s being done to improve the focus on STEM?
I was just up at Regeneron (see story). They had a huge program for about 500 kids to get them involved with STEM education. They really do a great job and I have applauded them on this. I think this is the second year they’ve done it and these kids are so excited. They come from all over Westchester to participate in the pro-gram. It is very, very exciting.
What is your general sense of the results of the mid-term elections?
Well, first of all I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to get the House back. There are now 111 women in Congress. There were only 29 when I got to Congress. In terms of being a woman, we’ve seen amazing changes. And being in the majority is much better than being in the minority. Although I work very well with the Republican Chair of Appropriations, Senator Shelby (R-Alabama). I must say that being in charge will mean a great deal to me. I’m very, very excited about it.
How is your relation-ships with the Mayors and Town Supervisors?
I love to work with them. I’m all over the district going to many events, so it’s very important for me to have good relationships. If people see issues or problems that I can address, I hope they feel very comfortable calling me because it really makes a difference. The only way I know what’s happening in the community is by directly speaking to them, and then I can work actively for money for their many needs. Head Start, for example, is a program I’ve been supporting because you really need it to help these kids.