Avraham and Moshe Tischler, 20-somethings brothers and ambitious political neophytes, recently met with The Jewish Press editorial board to discuss their current political plans and future prospects.
Avraham, 21, focused on his campaign against Simcha Felder, a former New York City councilman, in the so-called Super Jewish State Senate (district 17) race in southern Brooklyn in the September 13 Democratic primary. Among his chief policy goals, Avraham stressed his commitment to tuition tax credits, creating more jobs in the district, and improving government efficiency – especially the spending of citizens’ tax dollars. If successful, Avraham said he plans to use his office as an educational tool to raise various important issues to his constituents and rally them for their implementations.
For his part Moshe Tischler, 20, discussed his race against longtime incumbent Dov Hikind for the 48th State Assembly seat. Moshe claimed that he would be more effective than Hikind in the area of tuition tax relief for Yeshiva parents, emphasizing that this would be his top legislative priority in Albany.
Born and raised in Boro Park, the Tischlers said they know firsthand the needs and issues within the community, and have gained the education and insight necessary to understand and serve the community’s needs. With a B.A. degree in psychology and a minor in political science, Avraham has established his acumen on educational issues. And his growing interest in politics has led him to pursue a career in law.
Through his studies, Avraham has become well versed on the issue of the costs of private education. Avraham, declaring that “no child should be deprived of that [school choice] right,” spoke at length about his desire to enact private school tax credit legislation in order to provide parents with financial relief, thus enabling them to exercise the choice of sending their children to private (parochial or non-denominational) or public schools. He explained that city and state government spend close to a combined $20,000 of taxpayer’s dollars per public school student. Parents who send their children to private schools are burdened with those schools’ extra expenses, and Avraham believes that if government provides tax credits to them, parents would gain immediate tax relief. When asked to explain the difference between Felder and his views on this issue, he said, “[Felder] had his opportunity for ten years on the City Council and failed to deliver relief for parents.”
Avraham brings a strong reputation and history of volunteer work in the community. In grade school, he began volunteering in Maimonides Medical Center. He has helped Ohel Bais Ezra recruit young adults to help children with special needs. And he contributes his time to the nonprofit soup kitchen network, Masbia.
These experiences and his unswerving commitment to the community’s needs have made Avraham aware of average people’s struggles in finding jobs, as well as the predicament faced by many businesses that are attempting to maintain their current workforces. Avraham spoke of his plans to help small businesses create more jobs. He said he believes that “small businesses are the key engine to prosperity” and that the fines, regulations and penalties imposed by government are effectively killing those businesses. Avraham detailed the chain reaction of what occurs when a small business is ticketed with an expensive fine, and how that penalty forces them to cut back by possibly laying off some employees – and, in the worst-case scenario, shut down the business altogether.
According to Avraham, Felder did little when serving on the City Council to solve this problem, sponsoring the bill that Mayor Bloomberg proposed to overturn term limits, thereby allowing him to remain in office and continuing to fine and regulate businesses. In Avraham’s view, Felder was essentially a rubber stamp pertaining to the policies of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bloomberg.
On the controversial issue of pay raises for lawmakers, Felder voted to increase his own salary by 25 percent. Avraham vowed that if elected, he would vote against a pay raise and challenged Felder to join him in this pledge. As Avraham put it: “When people are struggling and hurting because of the stagnant economy, legislators should not be increasing their pay.”
Calling himself a “bipartisan candidate,” Avraham said that he intended to use his public office to raise awareness among citizens regarding local issues. Once he has garnered public support on issues of community concern, he promises to try to fix any problems.
As a New York City Council candidate in 2010, Avraham took on the MTA’s plan to cut back on MetroCards for students. The MTA ultimately reversed those cuts. It is that message of fighting for his constituents’ wellbeing that he wishes to convey. He “will stand up for them and do whatever [he] has to in order to help them,” he said. Describing himself as a “bipartisan candidate,” Avraham said he will work with anyone – from whichever party – in his quest to fulfill his governmental goals. He also emphasized the need for young people to become more involved in the political process and in espousing the best interests of their communities.
For his part, Moshe Tischler is enrolled in Touro College’s pre-med program and works as an expeditor for the small business founded by his father, Heshy. The business helps other small businesses and residents navigate the regulatory process in their attempt to obtain the necessary permits to expand. He also represents homeowners and business owners who challenge city agencies’ overzealous violations and fines. On the more personal side, Moshe volunteers as a big brother for teens-at-risk, helping young adults deal with delicate issues like drug and alcohol addiction. He also volunteers his time and talents at Maimonides Medical Center and Masbia.
Moshe, Hikind’s opponent, shares similar views with his brother on educational issues, saying that, “If all private schools in Brooklyn were forced to close down, it would cost $2-3 billion annually for public schools to educate these additional students.” He advocates that private-school students should receive financial help from the government in the form of tax credits or school vouchers. Moshe criticized Hikind for not adequately addressing this issue, saying that, “he had 30 years of opportunity to bring relief to Yeshiva parents.” He vowed to strive to reallocate government funds, thereby eliminating fiscal redundancies within the system. He pointed out that, “By spending more efficiently, we can save a lot of money,” and put that money to better use.
He also pointed out that Hikind sponsored only seven pieces of legislation over the past two years, while the average legislator’s numbers are in the 30-40 range – proving to Moshe that “Hikind is not even trying anymore.” Moshe stressed that Hikind is completely inaccessible and unresponsive to his constituents’ needs, which he says happens when an elected official is in office for 30 years.
The younger Tischler focused on his objective to aid the unemployed, the underemployed and the struggling small businesses (that he knows much about directly due to his job). He pledged, if elected, to be more proactive than Hikind and improve constituent services to ensure greater effectiveness in providing assistance to those in need.Yafit Fishbach
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