U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-Southern Brooklyn, Staten Island) announced Wednesday that he would participate in COVID-19 relief efforts on Staten Island with the National Guard as an operations officer. His deployment has not come without controversy.
Shortly after his announcement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) issued a release saying the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) bashed Rose, an Afghanistan veteran and captain in the Army National Guard, suggesting his current service showed a lack of concern for the coronavirus crisis.
Rose’s own words suggested otherwise. “Like many Guardsmen and women across the country, I am leaving my day job to serve our nation. Unlike them, I will be able to return to it in order to vote if needed,” he said. “That’s a privilege and responsibility that I take very seriously.”
City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach) defended Rose, saying that despite his current focus on Staten Island, he will not abandon Bay Ridge.
“Since he was sworn in, Max has always led from the front and I’m proud to call him a friend and my Congressman as he puts on the uniform in our nation’s war against the Coronavirus,” Brannan told KCP.
“I can also speak from the experience of sharing an office with his staff, that our constituents couldn’t be in better hands while he is deployed. We are all in this together.”
On Thursday, Brannan and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan) penned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) calling for a COVID-19 testing site in Bay Ridge for essential workers and first responders, confirming that neighborhood officials are still fighting for the neighborhood in the pandemic.
“Our offices have heard from many first responders & essential workers and their family members that they have been refused tests at other testing sites in the city,” the letter read. “The unmet need for testing is widespread, and the demand has long outweighed the supply, but the fact that we are failing to prioritize people who are working to protect us in the midst of all of this– who face a high risk of contracting the virus and also of transmitting it to others– is unacceptable.
The controversy over Rose’s concern for Bay Ridge amid his National Guard Service comes as Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island) who the NRCC supports, challenges him for his seat representing New York’s 11th congressional district. If successful, Malliotakis may help restore the Republican Party to political relevance in New York City.
Despite several requests for comment, spokespeople for Malliotakis declined to respond.