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2020 Congressional Representative Closing Arguments: Adam Schleifer

On June 23, New York is holding its primary elections. You can currently vote through mail-in ballot. Polls are open from 6a to 9p. Visit the Rockland County Board of Elections to learn where to vote.

by Adam Schleifer

On the first of this month, I joined thousands of others in Nyack in righteous, peaceful protest of the most recent spate of racial violence and police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. As we gathered to do that most American of things, exercise our First Amendment rights “peaceably to assemble and… petition the government for a redress of grievances,” I thought back to other remarkable moments of unity and healing that I’ve had in Rockland in these past 6 months, all of which arose out of violent tragedy that struck closer to home.

I recalled the evening in February, when I joined members of the Haitian, Hassidic, and African-American communities to mark the tragic murder of an employee of the Finkelstein Memorial Library. I thought back to my visit to Rabbi Rottenberg of Monsey a month prior, when I commiserated with the victims of that horrible Hanukkah hate crime, and vowed to put a stop to the horrible trend of antisemitic violence that tore through our region this past year. Then, just as now, I was reminded of the powerful words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

But my education in the importance of solidarity and advocacy reaches further back. As the proud grandson of Holocaust survivors and brother of someone with special needs, I learned empathy, and what Jews call “tikun olam” (reparing the world) early in life. As a public servant, I brought that set of values to the pursuit of justice, standing up to bullies on behalf of the vulnerable and hardworking people of our state and country. As a consumer-protection regulator under Governor Cuomo, I protected low-income borrowers by prosecuting illegal payday lenders who charged exorbitant interest rates–sometimes as high as 1,300 percent. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney under President Obama, I took on health care fraudsters, sexual predators, and violent criminals, who flooded our streets with assault weapons. And, I fought corruption as a member of the major frauds unit, where I protected immigrants, churchgoers, and members of a synagogue from financial scams targeting their communities.

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Now, after 8 years of state and federal service, I am running for Congress in my hometown district because I believe I can bring both dogged prosecutorial oversight and creative, pragmatic policy solutions to a Congress that sorely needs both.  Consider the events of this year alone: President Trump defied subpoenas during an impeachment proceeding; displayed utter and incredulous incompetence managing a global pandemic in which more than 100,000 Americans died; and, exercised zero leadership during one of the greatest civil rights protests of our lifetimes. If anything, the last six months have underscored the need for a strong and coequal legislative branch that can check the president’s executive overreach and compensate for his stunning ineptness. As a former federal prosecutor who served in the same office as Congressman Adam Schiff, I know what is needed to get the job done.

But my candidacy is not just about holding Trump and his cronies accountable. I am running to accomplish real things for real people in Westchester and Rockland through cohesive, creative, data-driven governance. Our team has released at least 20 bold, progressive, and realistic policy plans that meet the demands of our century and redeem the unmet promises of our Constitution. We made fighting climate change, lowering health care and prescription drug costs,  and ending gun violence centerpiece policies of our campaign. We led the field in releasing our tax plan, which would repeal the burdensome SALT deduction cap and reinstate higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. We released an economic justice plan that includes universal pre-k, so that more 4-year-olds in Nyack can access an affordable and high-quality pre-k program. And, we put forth comprehensive plans to promote justice, inclusion, and equality for Black Americans, people living with disabilities, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. As I have said on the virtual campaign trail, the purpose of this campaign is so much more than a single candidate – it is about bringing people together to get things done.

I am also proud of the vigorous campaign we have run to connect with voters from all corners of this district during an exceptionally unusual campaign season. We held public town halls twice a week, recruited and organized countless volunteers, and together made over 300,000 voter contacts. We assembled a Youth Advisory Council and an intern program of more than 70 youth who discussed with their friends and family why my candidacy best represented their generation’s future. And, we stayed true to our word of refusing any corporate PAC, fossil fuel, or lobbyist donations. Taking no vote for granted, we have hustled to demonstrate our ability to overcome problems and deliver results, and our efforts are paying off.

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What Rockland and Westchester county residents need and deserve in this moment is a true Democrat who will prioritize pragmatic solutions over pipedreams. Someone whose career has been focused on ensuring others have a fair opportunity to thrive. Someone who is honest about what they have done and what they will accomplish for our district in Congress. I hope NY-17 voters see that I am the right candidate to pick up where Congresswoman Nita Lowey is leaving off and continue her extraordinary legacy of making our district one of the best places to live in the United States, a place where every person can pursue their own version of the American Dream.

Adam P. Schleifer is a former New York State banking, insurance, and consumer protection regulator and federal prosecutor; he is a candidate for Congress in New York’s 17th Congressional District.

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