This year, more than most, has presented a specific challenge to this country’s commitment to democracy as a nation in times of crisis.
Heading into the June 23 primary, both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio has actually given some reluctant credit to President Donald Trump for the help he has given thus far to New York in dealing with the Voronavirus pandemic. On the flip side, Trump has given some reluctant credit to Cuomo and de Blasio in managing this health crisis.
That said, for New York’s 9th Congressional District Democratic primary election, KCP asked incumbent U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Prospect Lefferts Gardens), and her two leading opponents Adem Bunkeddeko and City Council Member Chaim Deutsch the following questions:
Can you tell me about two or three non-partisan issues that you’ve had to reach across the aisle to Republicans on and reach common ground in order to make progress? And a follow-up to that would be, do you believe that moving out of a strict bipartisan is the answer to solving more political problems?
Adem Bunkeddeko: “Every American, Democrat or Republican, needs to be ready to pass policies to help us recover from this pandemic, both from an economic and public health perspective, as well as address issues like the housing crisis and improving schools.”
However, Bunkeddeko emphasized that the Republican Party right now is a party of denying reality when it comes to broader issues like the science of climate change, of perpetuating the lie of trickle-down economics, and of following President Trump as completely divorced from the truth as Donald Trump.
“I stand ready to work with anyone,” said Bunkeddeko, “but we need a Congress that bases policy on facts, science and reality, not the needs of a few ultra-wealthy individuals who could care less about the rest of the planet.”
Chaim M. Deutsch: “I’ve always believed that legislators can get more done if we find common ground on issues that we can agree on. I’ve sponsored legislation and advocated for many initiatives alongside Republican colleagues including: fair market pay for NYPD officers; fire safety; Holocaust initiatives; veterans services; antisemitism; and equal access to school lunches for students observing kosher and halal dietary restrictions.”
Deutsch, as a city councilman and a lifelong Brooklynite, has had to work with Republicans in his career and said he considers himself a moderate Democrat.
Deutsch said he is always happy to reach across the aisle to Republican and Progressive colleagues across the political spectrum.
U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke: “Sadly, much of my time in Congress has been largely characterized by the most divisive Republican caucus our nation has ever seen. After Leader [Mitch] McConnell started his tenure by declaring his primary job as limiting President [Barack] Obama to a single term, the room for bipartisanship shrank considerably. Even so, we still managed to work across the aisle on a number of issues that have an undeniably negative impact on the American people.”
Clarke said that her office was able to get bipartisan support for at least two of her bills; The Synthetic Opioid Exposure Prevention and Training Act, which provides resources to protect workers from unexpected prescription drug addiction, and the Department of Homeland Security Climate Change Research Act which will include climate change research in the department’s mandate.