Photo Credit: https://zeldin.house.gov/
US Rep. Lee Zeldin

In past weeks, for statewide office, The Jewish Press has endorsed Cong. Lee Zeldin for Governor; NYPD Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito for Lieutenant Governor and Comptroller Thomas DiNpoli for re-election. We also endorsed candidates in a number of Congressional Districts (CDs): Nick LaLota (1st CD); Andrew Garbarino (2nd CD); George Santos (3rd CD); Anthony D’Esposito (4th CD); Gregory W. Meeks (5th CD); Grace Meng (6th CD); Daniel Goldman (10th CD); Nicole Malliotakis (11th CD); Tina Forte (14th CD); Ritchie Torres (15th CD); Michael Lawler (17th CD); Colin Schmitt (18th CD); Marcus Molinaro (19th CD); and Liz Joy (20th CD). New York City Civil Court Judge Cenceria P. Edwards also received our endorsement for election as a Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Below are The Jewish Press recommendations for NYS Attorney General, various NYS Senate and Assembly races and the four ballot proposals.

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NYS Attorney General

The Jewish Press urges voters to come out for Michael Henry for NYS Attorney General over the incumbent Letitia James. Henry is a political neophyte with no public record, but in the midst of soaring crime he at least is saying some common sense things about support for police, the strengthening of the criminal laws and for ending the disastrous bail reform experiment. Unfortunately, not so with James.

She was an early and ardent supporter of cashless bail and raise-the-age policies which, predictably, unduly restricted judicial discretion, encouraged lawbreaking and allowed serial criminals free time to commit even more crimes.

She also came up with something called the Police Accountability Act that would tighten the rules governing the use of force by law enforcement officials. In sum, her plan, as she described it, would change the law governing use of force “from one of simple necessity to one of absolute last resort, mandating that police officers only use force after all other alternatives have been exhausted.” Just imagine, cops would be required to exhaust all other alternatives in the literally split seconds they typically have to decide how to deal with a threatening suspect.

Surely this bespeaks a troubling mindset for someone with the job of New York’s top law enforcement official. In fact, it seems to us that her primary concerns lay not with the nuts and bolts of effective law enforcement but rather with how her views play politically in “woke” New York. We were thunderstruck by her comment a few months ago that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a rethinking of cashless bail because data definitively tying it to the “spikes in crime” were lacking. That is, she suggested, that somehow Covid-19 was the cause and not compromised criminal laws. To be sure it played well in what she perceived as her base. But Covid-19 is the root cause of out of control crime?!

Lest someone think that she was simply being responsible and prudent, consider her reaction to last week’s Quinnipiac University poll reporting that voters this year rank crime as the no.1 most urgent issue. James said,

We need to address a wide range of issues, including but not limited to looking at bail reform…. I understand the concern that individuals have. I understand the fear that they have. But we’ve got to work together and not politicize this very important issue.

In addition, the Quinnipiac Poll coincided with a Sienna College Poll which showed James ahead of Henry by just 11 points, down from 16 points a few weeks ago. Significantly, she won the 2018 election for Attorney General by 27 percentage points in 2018.

Yet even with her plainly political bow to politics and acknowledgement of the need to address bail reform, she still went on to say it can’t be talked about without considering other issues like pre-trial services or providing resources that could help prevent crime in the first place. Again, she played to her base.

In truth we should not all be surprised that for Letitia James the dynamics of law enforcement take a back seat to the political winds. It will be recalled that the centerpiece of her 2018 campaign was her promise that if elected, she would use the powers of her office as attorney general to “take on Donald Trump” and “investigate Trump’s New York Business.” She referred publicly to then-President Trump as “illegitimate” and described how she “looked forward to going into office of Attorney General every day, suing President Trump… and going home.” She even said that her decision to run for attorney general was largely “about that man in the White House who can’t go a day without threatening our fundamental rights.”

And all this, mind you, was before she led any official investigations of Trump. Can there be any doubt about the central role politics plays in Letitia James’s world of law enforcement?

True we don’t know much about Michael Henry, but we do like what we do know. More to the point, we know all too much about Letitia James.

NYS Senate

15th Senatorial District (SD) (Queens): Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

19th SD (Brooklyn): Roxanne J. Persaud

22nd SD (Brooklyn): Simcha Felder

23rd SD (Richmond / Brooklyn): Jessica Scarcella‑Spanton

24th SD (Richmond): Andrew J. Lanza

34th SD (Bronx): Nathalia Fernandez

 

NYS Assembly

24th Assembly District (AD) (Queens): David I. Weprin

25th AD (Queens): Nily D. Rozic

41st AD (Brooklyn): Helene E. Weinstein

42nd AD (Brooklyn) Rodneyse Bichotte

43rd AD (Brooklyn): Brian A. Cunningham

45th AD (Brooklyn): Steven Cymbrowitz

46th AD (Brooklyn): Alec Brook‑Krasny

47th AD (Brooklyn): William Colton

48th AD (Brooklyn): Simcha Eichenstein

49th AD (Brooklyn): Peter J. Abbate Jr.

54th AD (Brooklyn): Erik Martin Dilan

61st AD (Richmond): Charles D. Fall

62nd AD (Richmond): Michael W. Reilly Jr.

63rd AD (Richmond): Vincent C. Argenziano

64th AD (Richmond): Michael Tannousis

 

The Four Ballot Proposals

The Jewish Press urges a NO VOTE on each of the proposals.

Proposal No.1: The Environmental Bond Act

A “Yes” vote on this initiative authorizes New York State to raise $4.2 billion by issuing bonds with the money earmarked for pollution reduction, wetland protection, zero emission school bus fleets, urban forestry programs, shoreline restoration, safeguarding flood prone infrastructure and similar “green” projects.

All of the projects have a surface appeal. Who could be against clean water? But the proposal reeks of prior boondoggle initiatives with similar goals costing billions, which always seem to get lost somewhere in the ether with nothing to show for the effort. Plainly, it is not made clear that this time would be different.

Of particular interest is the part of the proposal that requires that at least 35% of bond revenue benefit “disadvantaged communities” which makes us believe that aiding the environment is not the point here.

 

Proposal No. 2: Adding a New Preamble to the New York City Charter

A “Yes” on this measure would authorize New York City government to amend the City charter to include a preamble that emphasizes the City’s commitment to diversity. The beginning of the preamble reads:

We the people of New York City, declare that our city is a multiracial democracy, and that our diversity is our strength. We honor and respect the cultures, languages and histories of all who call and have called this land home, and we celebrate their revolutionary imagination, courage, and resiliency.

According to the Racial Justice Commission, an official NYC Charter Revision Commission, the new preamble would not have the force of law but could serve as a “guide to City government in fulfilling its duties.”

To us it is purely and simply a blueprint and official imprimatur for systematic official efforts to achieve numerical racial diversity in all aspects of city life. We can all imagine where this sort of thing is headed: in a word, artificial preferential treatment. If there is any doubt on this score, please see Proposal No. 3.

 

Proposal No. 3: Creating A New York City Office of Racial Equity

Voting “Yes” on this proposition would authorize the City to create a mayoral office of racial equity, as well as require every city agency to submit biennial reports on their efforts to achieve racial equity within their ranks. A separate commission would also be set up to help the agencies with pointers about reaching racial equity goals. And we should take due notice that this is about “equity” and not “equality.” Of course, the former speaks to guaranteed results, while the latter to equal opportunity.

This all sounds suspiciously to us like Critical Race Theory on steroids. Indeed, they seem to be bent on legitimizing viewing everything in City government through the lens of race.

 

Proposal No. 4: Requiring The City To Measure The “True” Cost Of City Life

A “Yes” vote on this proposal would require the City to adopt a new metric for measuring the cost of living in the City that would not take into account public or private assistance. According to the Racial Justice Commission this would “refocus the conversation away from poverty, or the poorest of life’s conditions, towards an emphasis on dignity. The measure could be utilized in advocacy, labor negotiations, and, where appropriate, setting new eligibility standards for programs and benefits.”

Of the 4 propositions, No. 4 contains the most obtuse language and concepts defying easy parsing. But what comes through loud and clear is the juxtapositioning of the amorphous “dignity” standard with “new eligibility standards for programs and benefits.” It is plainly, like the other three, aimed at authorizing the City to prefer some people over others in order to achieve racial equity.

Last week we shared our strong preference for Congressman Lee Zeldin for Governor and NYPD Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito for Lieutenant Governor. Here are our selections for NYS State Comptroller, Congress, and a NYS Supreme Court judgeship.

 

NYS State Comptroller
Thomas P. DiNapoli (Democrat)

For New York State Comptroller, The Jewish Press endorses the incumbent, Tom Di Napoli, for reelection. A 20-year member of the New York state Assembly, he became Comptroller in 2007 having been selected by a bipartisan majority of the legislature following the resignation of the previous comptroller. He was thereafter elected by the voters to the post in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

The two main functions of the comptroller’s office are to manage the investments of the NYS mammoth $268 billion pension fund and to provide oversight for the spending of tax dollars. On both scores DiNapoli gets rave reviews. On his watch, the pension fund earned a impressive 9.5% on its investments in State Fiscal year 2022 and is generally regarded as one of the best managed public pension funds in the country. Similarly, he has gotten many plaudits for his highly successful program of putting pension finds to work in New York-based companies and achieving solid returns while growing New York’s local economies.

Of special note is the fund’s investment of more than half a billion dollars in Israeli companies which has proven to be a very financial wise strategy in addition to supporting New York State and U.S. policy towards the state of Israel. Indeed, last year the fund withdrew some $411 million in investments in the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Co. over the company’s announced boycott of Israel.

As the Comptroller once explained,

Attempts to harm Israel’s economy can put our investments there at risk. Israel remains an attractive place to invest and we look forward to finding new opportunities there. We’re putting companies engaged in BDS activities on notice that there will be consequences if their ant-Israel activities expose our investments to financial harm.

As to his oversight role, he has received praise for his auditing program which have identified tens of billions in waste and cost savings for State agencies, public authorities and local governments while also offering serious recommendations for operational improvements.

And there is much, much more that can be said about Tom Di Napoli’s service as Comptroller, all of which commend him to the voters of New York for another term.

 

U.S. House of Representatives

Note: Given the anti-Israel efforts in Congress led by “the Squad” (Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar), we have made a special effort to identify those Congressional candidates who have gone out of their way to publicly affirm their support for Israel.

 

1st Congressional District: (Suffolk County):
Huntington, Southampton to East Hampton

In the 1st CD we support Nick LaLota (Republican). An avid advocate for strengthening America’s military preparedness he has made support for Israel as an important U.S. ally a centerpiece of his campaign. At a time when the AOC anti-Israel mantra is increasingly taking root in the House, we certainly need people like Nick LaLota as an antidote.

 

2nd Congressional District (Suffolk County):
Babylon to Islip

We endorse the reelection of Andrew Garbarino (Republican) in the 2nd CD. He has stood with Israel at key times in the recent past. As an important example, he voted to allocate $1 billion in funding to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome defense system through the Iron Dome Supplemental Appropriations Act. Prior to the vote on the measure, he urged his colleagues to support the bill saying, “The Iron Dome has saved countless lives from Hamas terror attacks. It is essential for the security of Israel and the safety of its people. We must continue to stand by our ally and fund this defense system.”

 

3rd Congressional District (Nassau County):
Glen Cove, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay

George Santos (Republican) is our choice in the 3rd CD. He is an outspoken supporter of a strong relationship between the U.S. and what he refers to as its “ally” Israel. He has been critical of those members of Congress who voted against Iron Dome legislation. He also misses no opportunity to challenge those politicians who go along with the creeping socialist agenda promoted by AOC and her crowd, which he says will destroy his home base in Long Island and our country generally.

 

4th Congressional District (Nassau County):
Hempstead, Long Beach and the Five Towns

We support Anthony D’Esposito (Republican) in the 4th CD race. He is a Town of Hempstead councilman and a retired NYPD detective whose district includes the Five Town. Although his opponent in the race has also expressed support for Israel, what distinguishes D’Esposito in this regard is that while he was in state government, the Town of Hempstead, he proudly notes, passed anti-BDS legislation – at the time, one of the first of its kind.

He vividly recalls that when the Ben & Jerry’s story broke, there were strenuous efforts to get every commissioner and director in the Town of Hempstead to begin cutting back any purchases from Unilever (which owns Ben & Jerry’s). He also notes fondly that he has always had a very positive relationship with the Jewish community of the Five Towns and with area religious leaders. He would make an important addition to the Congressional mix. (Editorial hat tip to The Jewish Star for its reporting on this race.)

 

5th Congressional District (Queens County):
Jamaica and Rockaway Peninsula

In the 5th CD we endorse veteran Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (Democrat) for reelection. Although he has on occasion been critical of particular actions Israeli police officials have taken vis-à-vis the Palestinians, he has long been a stalwart supporter of Israel. And his service as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee makes that a very big deal, since a fellow Democrat occupies the White House. He often speaks of the right of Israel to defend itself and his firm belief that the United States “must stand with the State of Israel, its identity as the Jewish homeland and its right to live in safety and prosperity.”

 

6th Congressional District (Queens County):
Forest Hills and Northeast Queens

Rep. Grace Meng (Democrat) is our choice in the 6th CD. A member of the House since 2012, she has consistently been supportive of Israel often drawing the ire of such vocal enemies of Israel as Rep. Rashida Tlaib. Meng is a senior member of the key House Appropriations Committee and has been the driving force behind a number of initiatives assisting Israel in the development of a number of missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 systems. Of particular note is her role in the U.S. policy of ensuring that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over neighboring countries.

Meng has been a consistent supporter of the U.S.-Israel alliance. As she once said, “Israel is one of America’s strongest allies. It is our duty and responsibility and it benefits all of us around the globe, both democracies and democracy in general, to have a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.” She is a welcome counterweight to the growing influence of AOC and company.

 

10th Congressional District:
Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn

In the 10th CD, we endorse Daniel Goldman (Democrat) who distinguished himself in the August Democratic Primary by thoroughly demolishing his anti-Israel opponent who had been an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement. One of his quotes continues to resonate: “My Jewish faith and values have inspired me to dedicate my career to public service.” A number of Jewish groups took to Twitter to congratulate him on his primary victory.

 

11th Congressional District:
(Staten Island and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

We endorse the incumbent Nicole Malliotakis (Republican) for reelection in the 11th CD. She is in sync with our issues and unafraid to champion them. She is a strong supporter of Israel and its close relationship with the United States.

A frequent visitor to Israel she has said she learned a lot on her trips: “You could read as much as you want about Israel in the newspaper, but going there and speaking to the leadership and speaking to the people, understanding what their lives are like day in and day out, I think is incredibly important.”

She was a vocal opponent of the first Iran nuclear deal which she said was a “disaster” and opposes a renewal unless real and not cosmetic changes ae made. She is unalterably opposed to Iran getting nuclear weapons capacity.

 

14th Congressional District:
Parts of The Bronx and Queens

In the race in the 14th CD we support Tina Forte (Republican) over the incumbent -Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, whom she describes as “anti-American, anti-police, anti job, anti freedom and someone who wants government to control everything.” Ocasio-Cortez is also a notorious leader in the effort to undermine the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Forte, on the other hand, says, “Israel is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East and one of America’s most reliable allies. I proudly stand with Israel and the Jewish people.”

 

15th Congressional District (Bronx County):
Fordham, Tremont and Morrisania

The incumbent Ritchie Torres (Democrat) is our choice in the 15th CD. Without doubt he sees many social problems through a progressive lens, but his progressivism is of the rare principled, problem-solving variety and he has not bought into the robotic “gimmie society.” Because of his progressive credentials, we were especially taken with his vocal and enthusiastic support for Israel which in fact has alienated him from many on the progressive left. His recent statement on Israel was encouraging: “It’s more urgent than ever for people to come to the State of Israel, see the reality on the ground with your own eyes, and then come to your own conclusions…. There’s no substitute for visiting Israel.” Perhaps he is in a position to be more than a counterweight to Congressional anti-Israel progressives and change some minds.

 

17th Congressional District (Rockland and Westchester Counties):
Lower Hudson Valley

In the 11th CD we endorse Michael Lawler (Republican). While he certainly has embraced virtually all of our criticisms about the woke agenda, we were taken by his commitment if elected to propose legislation that would strip the University of California-Berkley of its public funding over a student resolution that would bar pro-Zionist speakers on campus. He said, “I’m speaking out on something happening in California because what happened there is becoming a norm everywhere.” His is the kind of voice we need in Congress.

 

18th Congressional District (Orange, Ulster, Putnam and Dutchess Counties):
Upstate New York

We support Colin Schmitt (Republican) in the 18th CD. He has become an outspoken advocate for sanity on the economy, immigration policy, crime prevention, tax relief, and parents’ rights. He has also been vocal on the issues of anti-Semitism and anti-Asian bias. He has also expressed strong support for what he says is the “the unbreakable bond shared by the United Sates and Israel.” While serving in the New York State Legislature, he fought against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Should he be elected, he will be a decided plus.

 

19th Congressional District (Sullivan, Ulster, Delaware Counties):
The Borsch Belt

In the 19th CD race we endorse Marcus Molinaro (Republican). Although his opponent has expressed support for Israel, Molinaro comes off as much more forceful. Thus, his opponent has expressed support for a two-state solution arrived at by the parties, but disturbingly suggests that there may be a role to play for the United States and other international partners to “facilitate conversations,” something hearkening back to the Obama pressures on Israel to make a deal.

Molinaro, however, has stressed that the Jewish state is “our strongest and most significant democratic ally in the world” and that “we must respect Israel’s democracy and not meddle in it.” He said he supports a negotiation that would not be “at the expense of Israel.”

 

20th Congressional District (Albany, Schenectady and portions of
Montgomery, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties)

In the 20th CD we support Liz Joy (Republican). She is an outspoken opponent of the woke war on law enforcement, its advocacy of cancel culture, and the rest of the woke agenda. What particularly caught our eye was her very vocal support for the Trump historic policy towards Israel, which she says shares American values and is our strongest ally in the world.

 

New York State Supreme Court (2nd Judicial District/Brooklyn)

For Justice of the Supreme Court ‑ 2nd Judicial District in Brooklyn we endorse Cenceria P. Edwards. Before her election to the Kings County Civil Court, Judge Edwards had a well-earned reputation as a lawyer’s lawyer. She then distinguished herself in the same vein on the civil court bench and then in the Criminal Court. She can be expected to continue that exemplary service should she be elected to the NYS Supreme Court.

In addition to the traditional duties of a judge, she has pledged to work to help the legal community adapt to the extensive use of technology including virtual litigation and retrofitted courtrooms in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic which degraded the regular workings of the court system.

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