The Jewish Press declines to endorse either Governor Andrew Cuomo or Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic primary race for governor. There is just too much silliness there.
For one thing, both candidates act as if the most important issue that should concern New Yorkers is who is more anti-Trump. State taxes, economic growth, transportation, infrastructure, violent crime, education, health care, and the like all seem to be relegated to an afterthought.
As we noted two weeks ago, the mindless commotion about the governor’s “America was never great” comment was rooted in that foolish contest. And then there was Governor Cuomo’s recent vow, as WABC reported, to sue President Trump over the federal response to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. How that issue falls within the legal purview of a New York governor simply eludes us.
More recently, there was the kerfuffle over the room temperature during the great debate between Cuomo and Nixon. According to The New York Times, CBS – which served as host of the epic confrontation – received an e-mail from the Nixon camp requesting that the temperature be set at 76 degrees. To be sure, Cuomo is known to sweat a lot and likes a lower temperature. But rather than simply complaining about accommodating a Cuomo weakness, the e-mail inexplicably claimed that lowering the temperature in a room is “notoriously sexist.”
For still another example of the foolish level of the campaign, here is this exchange between Cuomo and Nixon during the debate:
Nixon: “Can you stop lying?”
Cuomo: “As soon as you do.”
Please forgive us, but didn’t Cuomo just admit that he lies? Anyways, nothing about the gubernatorial race attracts our interest.
Typically, though not always, New York’s lieutenant governor plays a very minor role in the governance of New York and ordinarily takes assignments from the governor. Given our feelings about the governor’s race, there is little point in making a choice for lieutenant governor.
We are happy to endorse Letitia James for the office of New York State Attorney General. Ms. James is a well known public servant in New York City, having served as a member of the New York City Council and currently as the City’s Public Advocate.
In both capacities she demonstrated a serious concern for the needs of those requiring help from government. Both posts provide invaluable experiences given the major anti-fraud and consumer protection responsibilities of New York attorney general.
Further, in those offices, she has taken on hate crimes and anti-Semitism. She has also visited Israel and strongly supports it. In the City Council, she represented Crown Heights and has a longstanding relationship with the Jewish community.
She has also been sensitive to the special needs of yeshivas and Jewish community institutions and supported making kosher meals available to Jewish public school students.
She has earned our community’s support.
New York State Senate
11th SD: We endorse Sen. Tony Avella for reelection.
13th SD: We endorse Sen. Jose Peralta for reelection.
17th SD: We endorse Sen. Simcha Felder who has distinguished himself in the way he has gone about advocating the interests of his constituents. He has leveraged his role as a key member of the recently disbanded Independent Democratic Caucus, a group of Democratic State Senators who caucused with Senate Republicans to cement Republican control of the Senate despite insufficient numbers to form a majority on their own.
Of particular import, by virtue of the clout of the IDC, Felder successfully sponsored legislation in the Senate providing greater protection of the rights of parents to educate their children in parochial schools.
That legislation mandates that substantial weight must be given to the educational benefits of the exacting Torah studies component of a yeshiva’s overall educational program when evaluating whether a yeshiva provides a program “substantially equivalent” – the legal standard – to what is provided in public schools.
Although the IDC has disbanded, Felder has vowed to continue caucusing with Senate Republicans, providing a one-vote majority for the Republicans and empowering him to leverage that support on behalf of his constituents.
20th SD: We support Sen. Jesse Hamilton for reelection. Hamilton has been in the Senate for three-and-a-half years, counting members of the Lubavitch community of Crown Heights among his constituents. He has been a loyal friend to the community, supporting tax credits for yeshiva tuition, speaking out against the Iran nuclear deal, and helping organize opposition to it.
He has been a vocal opponent of BDS and has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars for Crown Heights institutions. He has earned our support.
We also note that he was a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus which enabled him to secure Republican support for measures benefiting his constituents.
31st SD : We endorse Sen. Marisol Alacantra. She was a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus and was able to parlay that into solid benefits for her diverse constituents, including members of the Jewish community of Washington Heights. She has been an opponent of BDS and secured funding for Yeshiva University to improve its safety and infrastructure.
34th SD: We endorse Sen. Jeffrey Klein for reelection. Klein was one of the leaders of the Independent Democratic Caucus and has often been the “go to guy “ for members of the Bronx and general Jewish community, particularly on issues relating to yeshivas. He has passed legislation targeting the BDS movement, ensuring anti-Semitic attackers are penalized to the fullest extent of the law.
New York State Assembly
39th AD: We endorse Aridia Espinal for election to Assembly in the 39th AD.
42nd AD: We endorse Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte for reelection. She has become a familiar presence at Jewish events in the district and speaks passionately about her support for Israel and of her legislative fight against BDS.
She also is recognized for her efforts to build bridges between and among different communities. She has also been an advocate for realistic efforts to provide constitutional financing of parochial school education.
54th AD: We endorse Sen. Martin Dilan for reelection. At his Jewish Press interview, Sen. Dilan impressed with his straightforward answers. He works hard to advance the interests of his constituents, which include members of the Jewish community. He expressed his strong views about the need for merit admissions to special New York schools but favored remedial programs to help students meet admission standards.
42nd AD We endorse Josue Pierre. He has worked closely with Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte on Jewish issues and has become a reliable friend to our community. He has been endorsed by Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, the rabbi of the Young Israel of Avenue K in Brooklyn.
44th AD: We endorse Doug Schneider. Schneider – who has strong ties to the Belz community – is a graduate of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School and practices civil rights law, including representing employees claiming religious discrimination.
45th AD: We endorse Margarita Kagan. She has been an important voice in the fight against anti-Semitism and promoting support for Israel. Ms. Kagan was the primary organizer of numerous Israel Solidarity Rallies. She has also headed successful fundraisers for bomb shelters in Asdod and Sderot in Israel. She has also worked to advance other issues vital to our community.
48th AD: We endorse David Schwartz for reelection. In 2016, he became the youngest Democratic District Leader at age 22 and he was the first Hasidic leader since the early 1980’s. He told the Jewish Press that he is committed to working with other district leaders to ensure that all citizens are able to participate in the electoral process and pursue their interests.
60th AD : We endorse Nikki Lucas for reelection. She is being challenged for the post by Councilwoman Inez Barron, who together with her husband, Assemblyman Charles Barron, have alienated many in the Jewish community with their fiery, we perceive as anti- Jewish and anti-white rhetoric. Long a community activist, she is dedicated to working on behalf of all residents of the 60th AD on such issues as transportation, jobs, housing and sanitation.
NOTE. Judges who preside in the courts of New York are the public office holders that most directly affect New Yorkers in their day-to-day life, more so than any other elected official. It is therefore imperative that the judges have gained experience as practicing attorneys who have dealt with issues that normally come before the courts in order to better understand how people are affected with issues that we all deal with – whether it is with our jobs, dealing with our landlord, our children’s schools, with our marriage, with our credit card companies and banks. These are issues that Judges rule on and can make our lives either bearable or frightful.
In interviewing these judicial candidates, we believe that they have the expertise, temperament, experience and understanding that make a great judge.
Civil Court Judge – Kings County (Brooklyn): We support Judge Loren Baily-Schiffman for reelection in the county-wide race for Civil Court in Brooklyn. A 20-year veteran on the Civil Court bench, she also serves as an Acting Supreme Court Justice.
She has earned a reputation for maintaining a level playing field for litigants appearing before her and for ensuring that all are given the right to be heard. She is also renowned for the fairness of her legal rulings.
8th Municipal Court District: We endorse Gina Levy for election. She has a thoroughgoing knowledge of the law and its procedures having served as the longtime law clerk to a veteran Supreme Court Justice.
Civil Court Judge – Kings County: We endorse Judge Ingrid Joseph for reelection to the Civil Court in Kings County. She is the supervising judge of the Civil Court in Kings County and widely respected for her calm and unflappable demeanor and serious commitment to seeing to it that all litigants get a fair shake. She is adept at promoting the timely disposition of cases and making the courts user-friendly.
Civil Court: Brooklyn: We support Judge Lisa S. Ottley for reelection to the Civil Court in Brooklyn’s 4th district. She currently serves as an Acting Supreme Court Justice where she presides over Guardianship matters. First elected to the Civil court in 2008, she has served as the Supervising Judge of the Civil Court in Kings County. In addition to her legal knowledge, she is known for her administrative skills. She has no challenger and therefore will not appear in the primary ballot. Look for her, however, in the general election on the November ballot.
Surrogate’s Court – Kings County (Brooklyn): Judge Harriet Thompson serves on the New York Civil Court and is running for Surrogate’s Court in Brooklyn. She is running unopposed but we nonetheless note that she gave an extraordinary interview and we plan a feature story about her in The Jewish Press in the near future.
Surrogate’s Court – Richmond County (Staten Island): We endorse Assembly member Matthew Titone for election to the Staten Island Surrogate’s Court. An 11-year veteran of the Assembly, he is an accomplished attorney who has had broad experience in many areas of the law, including trusts and estates and other issues that come before the Surrogate’s Court. At his Jewish Press interview, he also exhibited an infectious passion for those issues.
Starting from the top, left to right: Nikki Lukas, Senator Martin Dilan, Gina Levy, Senator Marisol Alacantra, Matthew Titone, Judge Lisa Ottley, Senator Jesse Hamilton, Doug Schneider, Judge Harriet Thompson, Judge Ingrid Joseph and David Schwartz.