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2020 Congressional Representative Closing Arguments: Evelyn Farkas

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 Evelyn Farkas

This is a moment of reckoning for our nation. From income inequality and climate change to the coronavirus fallout and the urgent need for racial and social justice, America is reeling from overlapping systemic challenges—and calling out for experienced leadership.

Whoever is elected to succeed Rep. Nita Lowey will need to jump into work planning our nation’s recovery. That person will be responsible for delivering federal funds to help the people of our district put food on the table, pay rent, and get back to work building a more sustainable society. This is not a time for ideological purity tests, but instead for tested and experienced leadership to move our district and our nation forward.

I am running for Congress to continue my lifetime of service to our nation because I have the experience, judgment, and determination to best represent the people of New York’s 17th Congressional District.

With the existential threats facing our nation, and the continued assault from President Trump and his Republican allies on our freedoms and the rule of law, I am running to defend the American Dream: our political freedoms and economic opportunity.

The American Dream is personal for me. My parents came to this country as refugees fleeing communist Hungary. They arrived in America with nothing, spoke little English, and took odd jobs until they moved to Westchester in 1968 when my father was hired as Library Director in Briarcliff. I learned English in kindergarten, worked hard to contribute to the family income, and helped raise my sisters in a family that struggled to make ends meet. My mother worked three jobs as a hospital pharmacist in Westchester to help put me through college, and I still had debt that took me 20 years to pay off with the help of the federal government.

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I know what it feels like to struggle in America, but I also know that my family was lucky. My parents were fortunate to be able to immigrate to America. Growing up, my education, which culminated in a masters and doctorate studying ethnic conflict and nationalism, was jump-started by my time in Westchester’s great public schools. I have come to see how my family benefited from white privilege, which facilitated our rise, in spite of language barriers and no generational wealth.

For all of its flaws, I love this country, and have dedicated my life to serving and improving the nation that gave my parents refuge, and to helping those in need. I served as a human rights officer in the aftermath of genocide in Bosnia. I spent 7 years drafting and passing legislation as a senior staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where I opposed the Iraq War and helped our nation respond to disasters like 9/11. I served as executive director of the Speaker Pelosi-created Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, which, among other things, identified and made recommendations to address America’s vulnerability to an infectious pandemic. I worked on climate change and non-proliferation as a Senior Fellow at the American Security Project. Finally, President Obama appointed me to be Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine, a role that led me to the White House Situation Room to help counter Russian aggression at home and abroad.

Our next representative will need to deftly navigate Congress and the federal bureaucracy to deliver funding to rebuild our community. I am the best person to do this, because I am the only one who has done it before.

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I know I am ready to hit the ground running on day one, but you don’t need to take my word for it; many of our nation’s most experienced leaders have endorsed me. Former Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, a dozen sitting members of Congress, and many more, support me. They know I bring a depth of experience, expertise, and judgment that will help a new Democratic majority institute a status quo that works for all Americans, regardless of how you look, love, identify, or worship.

At this perilous moment, our district, and our nation, needs representatives with empathy to help those in need, determination to fight corrupt special interests, and experience to deliver results. While nobody can replace Rep. Nita Lowey, I offer my three decades of experience to serve our district in Congress and help our community rebuild. I hope you will give me the opportunity.

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