Believing that incumbent Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) no longer effectively advocates on behalf of his constituents, and that our sacred democratic process is for naught should he run unopposed, Joseph Hayon, a 32-year-old father of two, has joined the race for New York’s 9th congressional seat. Hayon, a former retail manager, service coordinator, entrepreneur, and elementary school teacher – and self-described “regular American citizen, never before involved in politics” – is pitting himself against one of New York’s most seasoned political figures.
Hayon, a Republican, is campaigning for an effective school voucher policy, which would help subsidize families paying private school tuitions. Over the last decade, this has become a major issue in the 9th district, as many of the district’s students are currently enrolled in parochial schools. As a former yeshiva teacher, Hayon recognizes the financial burden on families and schools, especially in today’s difficult economic climate, as tuitions have risen and fund-raising has slowed. The growing fiscal and educational demands on all concerned have thus grown.
Hayon recognizes that this issue is not just a Jewish educational one, but affects Christian and Muslim families as well.
While Hayon acknowledges that his campaign began by focusing on this issue, he is far from a one-issue candidate. Other issues he is addressing range from his opposition to legislation that would legalize same-sex unions to opposing the legalization of partial birth abortions. He is also stressing the need to enact stronger policies (and eventual legislation) on the issues of New York’s economic crisis and national immigration.
Despite support from some of New York’s most noted religious figures, Hayon recognizes the uphill battle he is waging against Weiner, a popular incumbent. And even though Hayon’s own party has given him little support due to their belief that a Republican has little chance of winning the seat, the candidate remains undeterred. He considers it almost miraculous that a yeshiva teacher from Brooklyn has been able to organize a campaign and raise enough funds to even compete in such an uphill race. And Hayon says confidently that, “this is a campaign the Republicans can win.”
Hayon relied chiefly on a loose corps of volunteers who dedicated countless hours to help build his campaign. His campaign manager, for instance, worked 12-14 hours a day with no compensation. Hayon’s lack of political experience forced him to seek support from anyone who would listen, eventually gaining a following among those who have become disillusioned with Weiner’s leadership.
To help parents better afford their children’s tuition and tutoring costs, along with other academic needs, Hayon founded the Homework Helper Institute, which facilitated tutoring services for underprivileged students without undermining the salaries of the students’ tutors. He later went on to become the founder of the first Republican Club at Kingsborough Community College.
Describing himself as a true “man of the people,” Hayon’s emergence from teacher to congressional candidate may give his campaign a kind of na?ve innocence that Weiner lacks. Though the odds for success are against him, Hayon is committed to moving forward – firmly believing that he truly represents the will of New York’s 9th congressional district.