CANDIDATES FOR 17 TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT GO HEAD TO HEAD

By: Keith S. Shikowitz
Debates between political candidates running for office go far back in American History. The most
famous of these debates is still the Lincoln – Douglas Debates of 1858. We have had Presidential debates since
the 1960 Kennedy – Nixon Debates. On October 13, 2020 five candidates (Republican Maureen McArdle
Schulman, SAM (Serve America Movement) Party Mike Parietti, Conservative Party Yehudis Gottesfeld,
Independent Josh Eisen and Democrat Mondaire Jones) for the NY 17 th Congressional District took each other
on in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
Stephen Cohen went over the rules with the candidates and those watching the debate, so everyone was
clear as to how this event was going to proceed. Once that was completed Moderator Susan Polos took over and
went over some final rules about the procedures of the debate and Schulman began the opening statements.
Schulman who supports keeping the police funded and is against the NYS bail reform law, is a wife,
mother and a grandmother of three and a retired NYC fire fighter. “I was one of the first women hired in 1982
by the NYFD. I also responded to both terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. I was the only girl with 5
brothers. I was expected to do chores without compensation. If I wanted money, I needed to earn it on my own.”
She listed a number of jobs she had ranging from finding a way to take over her brother’s paper route at
age 13 since girls weren’t permitted to have paper route to working a slicing machine in a deli to selling lingerie
in Gimbles and giving 50 cents of each dollar to my parents. After she passed her road test on her 18 th birthday,
she paid for all my own gas and car insurance.
Schulman’s life was not easy. She became pregnant in her senior year in college. She graduated from
college two months after getting married and money was tight. They were on food stamps and Medicaid and
hated it. Six months later Schulman gave birth to a 10 pound 10 ounce baby girl. “Then money really became
tight. My husband was working two jobs while going to college full time and I stayed home taking care of our
daughter. I finally found a job in retail making minimum wage. I was making $2.50/hour and I was paying a
babysitter $2.00 /hour. At the time every dollar I made was a dollar taken from our food stamps. We did not
care. I needed to work.”
Schulman, as she did as a young adult, took on however many jobs she needed to do to take care of her
family and make sure bills were paid on time. “Even after I became a firefighter, money was tight. When money
was really tight, I took work cleaning houses. There’s no shame in cleaning bathrooms. The hard work and
perseverance I have had my whole life is what I will take to Washington DC with me. I will have a careful
watchful eye on the spending of our taxpayer dollars. We, as residents of Westchester and Rockland already pay
way too much in taxes and I will keep an eye on that.”
Josh Eisen, the only non – native to the district, grew up in Queens in a nice home and a very happy
community. His parents were both immigrants. His father a Holocaust survivor, also escaped Communist
Hungary after returning there following WWII. “We didn’t have a whole lot. I went to Queens College and
majored in Classics and then to NYU.”
He abandoned the thought of become a professor. Because he realized that in the USA, one needs to be
wealthy to achieve the dream of becoming an academic. “I had to support my parents for a number of years. I
later did an MBA and finished a PHD at Columbia. I started making some money. I owned several businesses
that I started. Some that I acquired. I’m running for Congress because I think all of those experiences are
valuable and meaningful and they reflect the different types of things that go on in the community. I see myself
as a man of the community and who is committed to this community. Right now, I think that kind of dialogue

that’s what’s important for the community, the district, and for the towns in the district needs to be the
important dialogue and that’s what I want to talk about. What we can do for the people in the district? Where
we can finally make Washington work for us as opposed to the other way around.
Yehudis Gottesfeld, at 25 is the youngest of the candidates, grew up in Rockland and Westchester
Counties. She specializes in Chemical Engineering with Energy and Environmental Engineering. “My brother
was born with a heart defect. That kind of turned our lives upside down. We had to focus on taking care of my
brother. Giving of yourself for the benefit of someone else’s life. That is when I really first learned to do that.
When I was 11 years old, I started volunteering to work with disabled kids and adults and continued that for
about 10 years. I went into environmental engineering, environmental policy and nuclear policy. I saw the
different struggles we had on a national level. Instead of struggles in individual’s lives that were being caused
by the national level. That’s what brought me into politics.”
She feels that the US communication between science and policy and science and engineering that was
going on in DC. It’s something that’s really important to benefit each individual’s lives and connecting science
and policy. “That’s what I want to bring forth to Congress and our national politics, the individual voice
together with scientific perspective that we can then use to create policies that can benefit everyone.”
Mondaire Jones, who supports the legalization of cannabis (marijuana), eliminating mandatory
minimum sentencing, investing in alternatives to incarceration, and ending cash bail says that unlike the people
we are used to seeing in our politics, he doesn’t come from money or a political family. “I grew up in the
Village of Spring Valley in Section 8 housing and on food stamps. I was raised by a young single mom who
worked multiple jobs just to put food on the table for us. The fight for $15.00 minimum wage is a fight I want to
join based on my understanding of that need in our society. My mom got help raising me from my grandparents.
When daycare was too expensive, she took me to work with her in Congers and in Hillcrest. You can imagine
that the fight to provide affordable childcare for everybody in our district is a fight that I want to join because
that too is personal for me. Education equity. As someone who is a graduate of East Ramapo School District
and is only able to run for US Congress today because of a quality public education that unfortunately does not
exist in that same school district. It’s how I was able to go to Stanford University. Work in the Obama
Administration at the DOJ and then attend Harvard Law School. More recently, many of you know I have been
a lawyer for Westchester fighting in the courtrooms on behalf of hopefully for my future constituents. I am now
running the fight for all the people in Rockland and Westchester Counties. I think we’d get better policy
outcomes when we have people in office for whom policy is personal like it is for me.”
Mike Parietti, the only one of the candidates who has run for political office before is running on the
Serve America SAM party line Row H on the ballot. “I’m an openminded, moderate, independent with common
sense political values. I was born and raised here in Rockland County. I was the third of 9 children. My mother
and father worked very hard to provide for their family.”
He has a diversity of work experience from the military, to the business world, and in the local grass
roots politics in Rockland. He is also the primary caregiver to his elderly mother. If elected he will not caucus
with either major party. Rather he will act as a moderating force between both parties. “My political instincts
are to seek workable, common sense middle ground solutions to our most divisive issues. Working over many
years to fight corruption on the local level. I have seen first – hand how the forces of corruption rejoice when
they see people of good will fighting and dividing themselves. When we divide ourselves, they simply pick a
side and conquer. I have always tried to get people of good will to set aside their differences to find balanced,
reasonable, workable solutions in the middle.”
He is only accepting campaign donations from private citizens that live in the 17 th District, not from
Political Action Committees or any groups of any kind. This will allow me to go down to Congress to vote and

act in the best interests of the people in Rockland and Westchester Counties. He feels this will leave him free to
talk about local issues such as; tax burdens, corruption, unfunded mandates, curriculum equivalency between
public and private schools and the dangers posed to a free society when radical religion is allowed to run amok.
Once the opening statements concluded, Polos began the questions. Some of the answers were direct
responses while others touched on the answer and some missed the target completely.
The Democrats have claimed that there is active voter suppression going on in the country, which many
people and some statistics deny. They feel that denying people mail in ballots is one of those ways. The
opposition says that there is too much of a possibility for corruption and fraud in this. Recent evidence shows
that many mail – in ballots were discarded before they could be counted with votes for President Trump. In
Minnesota, ballots were being harvested (collected by people) and filled out by those same people who were
being paid to collect them from the voters who they were sent to. According to a project Veritas expose’.
The first question dealt with the topic of voting as a fundamental right which all eligible voters should
have an equal opportunity to exercise. “The league is dedicated to ensuring that our elections remain free, fair
and accessible. As a congressperson, what would you do to protect voters’ rights?”
Eisen replied, “I think the most important thing to protect voters’ rights is first and foremost, educating
them in terms of what their rights are. Out of my congressional office I would be educating voters on their
rights and educating people who aren’t registered about the importance of voting. making sure we have
continued outreach in the public, private schools and parochial schools to get the children to grow up with a
deeper appreciation for voting. I can tell you that my kids who have been in public and private schools, it’s rare
that voting comes up outside of the elections. Education is a big part of what I would focus on in terms of the
way to promote voting whether it is on an elementary school, middle school level or that kind of thing or really
more broad.”
He says that education would be the primary focus in terms of how to achieve that. “These ideas will get
people registered but how does any of this protect voter’s rights?” asked, an observer of the debate.
Gottesfeld feels voting is a privilege that we all have. She points out that there are people with
disabilities who may not be able to go out and vote. “As part of a country that gives that opportunity for
everyone to vote, I think it’s important to ensure that those who can’t go out to vote get to vote. I think it’s
incumbent upon each person, during normal circumstances, to take the opportunity to go out and make the
effort to go out and vote. That’s important. We also have to watch out for insecurities in our system. To make
sure that everyone has that vote an nobody plays around with that vote.”
She thinks that at the same time, while there are different ways for people to make sure that everyone’s
vote is counted and there’s no flaws within that system. “I think also as each person has a vote when it comes to
transparency each person votes for a certain candidate and what they want to see is that the candidate is doing
what you voted for them to do. Not only is it important to have transparency in our voting process, in how we
count the ballots, but transparency in Congress with what’s going on there with each individual bill.” There are
no specific plans mentioned to protect voting rights for all.
Jones feels voting is the most fundamental and most precious of rights that we have in a free society
claims it is not a privilege for everybody in the country. In his opinion for far too many Americans, many
millions of Americans the right to vote remains elusive. say this as someone who marched in the early 2000’s
with the NAACP in Washington DC to renew the voting rights act which Justice Roberts as part of his majority
on the Supreme Court gutted in the Shelby decision several years ago making it far more difficult for people,
especially lower income people or people of color to exercise that very fundamental right.” According to

Roberts, Congress was using 50-year-old guidelines and formulas to maintain the federal government's
authority over state voting laws. The majority could not allow what they viewed as outdated standards to blur
the line separating the federal government from the states. "Our country has changed, and while any racial
discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that
problem speaks to current conditions."
Based on this statement, Jones’ argument that the court made it more difficult for people, especially
lower income people or people of color to exercise that very fundamental right is not accurate. The Court sent
the issue back to the Congress where the law was originally written to fix problems it saw in today’s world that
used standards that were set up 50 years ago in a completely different atmosphere of racial attitudes. It has yet
to do so.
“It’s not simply educating people about the vote. It’s about making sure that we strengthen the ability of
everyone to have their voices heard. There is a bill in congress called HR 1 that would make tremendous gains
towards doing that. It’s also known as the For the People Act. It would eliminate partisan gerrymandering of
Congressional Districts and replace that procedure with an independent redistricting commissions to avoid the
kind of voter dilution that we are seeing right now. It would also establish Election day as a federal holiday
making it easier for people to get out and vote.” Jones stated.
Mike Parietti says he has fought for years on the local level to bring fairer representation to municipal
boards. He fought a long battle at the village and town levels with the Town of Ramapo to post a referendum on
the ward system. “I have worked in Spring Valley to try to get the vote there as well. I think we should double
down on the recent effort by the public – school parents in East Ramapo when the federal government stepped
in and ordered them to impose the ward system in East Ramapo School District. I think that the voting rights
section of the Justice Department should be monitoring these things more aggressively than be forced to step in
when they see that an at large voting system is being coopted by any kind of special interest whatsoever.”
He feels there is a need to look at campaign financing. He’s worried about big money in politics. “There
is a lot of big money pouring into this race from people in places far away from this district and I think that is
unfair to the voters. The campaign donations limits should be much stronger that for those who live outside the
district. I think what’s going here is that political opportunists and consultants from far away and from big cities
are attempting to silence our historically moderate suburban voice in Congress and shift our vote into the big
city.”
Schulman finished up this round of questioning. “I really think that with the early voting and the
absentee voting that everybody has the opportunity to vote. You can get there anytime you want. There’s a
variance of times and days you can vote during the 10 days before the actual election. I feel the worst part of
this thing is that people don’t feel their vote is counted. This is a big democratic area and people who are
Republicans and Conservatives feel like their votes are not going to count because there are so many
democrats.”
Schulman would like to bring them forth that it’s important for everyone to vote no matter what party
you are on. “You can change your mind and vote for someone else even if you are a democrat. I don’t think we
can do any more than that. The option is open for all of the different times and all the different days before the
election. That’s the most important thing and the absentee ballots.” Stephanie, a newly registered voter said,
“Every vote does count. It may not have an effect on the Presidential election with the overwhelming majority
of Democrats in the big cities, but in the local elections and state elections, EVERY vote can make the
difference between freedom and tyranny.”

The questioning shifted to issues unique to our district and how the candidates would address them. All
the candidates agreed that the overwhelming tax burden facing the district was the major issue and was unfair to
the residents of Rockland and Westchester. Their solutions to the problem ranged from looking at how the tax
burden effects the various segments of the population and tackling it from there to getting rid of the SALT
(State and Local Tax) cap of $10,000.
Parietti said that tax money is being taken away from public school initiatives where they are struggling
to teach our students to become self-reliant, contributing members of society and given to private and religious
schools that refuse to teach a secular education. He feels that should be taken away unless they do this.
Jones agreed that this is not just a thing with the superrich and disagrees with some of the progressive
folks in congress for example who do believe it’s just a giveaway to the superrich. We know that middle class
and lower middle – class folks right here in Westchester and Rockland Counties were crushed when that cap
was instituted.
Gottesfeld said, “When we talk about taxes, we really need to take it seriously and look at the level of
our taxes and how they affect every single person in our district and in all economic brackets.”
Eisen fell in line with the rest of the candidates on this issue. Primarily he agreed with Schulman that
realistically it is a bi-partisan problem. “Both parties for whatever reason are not going to want to get rid of the
cap on the SALT deduction. I do believe we have to fight, fight, fight like hell to restore things to the way they
were.”
Schulman look at this as a bi – partisan issue. “I don’t feel it’s not just the Republican’s fault in
Congress. I feel that Governor Cuomo has a say in this too. We pay the highest taxes and the reason we have the
highest taxes is because of the governor.” She blames his mismanagement and overregulation of business that
keeps them out of the two counties.
“What I would really love to do is encourage these companies from NYC that have been dealing with
riots and things like that to come to Westchester. Come to Rockland County open your businesses here. We’ll
welcome you. We have the educated people. We have the workers. We have the security because we haven’t
defunded our police.” She stated.
Next topic was pandemic. This question came from the public. The COVID 19 pandemic has
highlighted issues of inequalities for the underserved in healthcare, housing and food security. How do you plan
to address these pandemic related issues?
Jones began this round of answers by repeating the Democratic and Mainstream Media talking point that
we don’t have leadership that believes in science and that will take seriously efforts to keep this virus under
control. It’s why I’m proud be one to go on this virtual debate stage who wears a mask when he walks around in
this district.
Statistics show that 70% of people who wear masks all the time got the virus. A Centers for Disease
Control report released in September shows that masks and face coverings are not effective in preventing the
spread of COVID-19, even for those people who consistently wear them.
A study conducted in the United States in July found that when they compared 154 “case-patients,” who
tested positive for COVID-19, to a control group of 160 participants from the same health care facility who
were symptomatic but tested negative, over 70 percent of the case-patients were contaminated with the virus
and fell ill despite “always” wearing a mask. “In the 14 days before illness onset, 71% of case-patients and
74% of control participants reported always using cloth face coverings or other mask types when in public,”
the report stated. In addition, the report showed that over 14 percent of the case-patients said they “often”

wore a face covering and were still infected with the virus. The study also demonstrates that under 4 percent of
the case-patients became sick with the virus even though they “never” wore a mask or face covering.
“To your point, it exposed a lot of inadequacies in our social safety net. We now have nearly 100 million
people in our society who are uninsured or underinsured. Part of that high number is because we saw over the
course of 10 weeks earlier this year 40,000,000 people lost their jobs in the midst of economic devastation.”
A comparison of states with liberal leadership and those with conservative leadership show that the
economic devastation Jones says exists is because of draconian lockdowns that ruined businesses in the liberal
run areas.
A report in the Daily Signal shows that in general, Americans are faring better in states where (typically
conservative) policymakers have allowed society to resume most activities with proper safety measures,
recognized their citizens’ rights and needs to earn a living, and provided in-person education options for
children.
Meanwhile, more people are struggling in states where (typically liberal) policymakers have imposed
excessive lockdowns not rooted in data, attempted to close off income opportunities, used the pandemic to
expand government control, and demanded federal bailouts for decades of poor budgeting instead of taking
responsibility and confronting their problems head-on.
For example, in announcing 28,000 layoffs this week, the Walt Disney Co. cited California’s
“unwillingness to lift restrictions” and allow its Disneyland amusement park to reopen as contributing to the
layoffs.
Although it’s not a precise distinction between the two approaches, the unemployment rate in states led
by Republican governors shows a stark contrast with states led by Democrat governors.
An additional 661,000 Americans found jobs in September, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics’ monthly report, as the unemployment rate dipped to 7.9% from 8.4% in August and a high of 14.7%
in April after the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
We have to make sure that we don’t have a healthcare system that continues to tie healthcare to your
employment status We have to look at that. We have to look at allowing everybody having affordable
healthcare regardless of their employment status in our society. Healthcare that travels with them wherever they
go. This was tried with the ACA – millions of people lost their doctors, plans and are paying much more for
health insurance with very high deductibles to pay before coverage kicks in and many people only have ONE
Obamacare exchange insurance company to choose from because many insurance companies took the
opportunity to opt out of the ACA. This was after Obama proclaimed that “you can keep your doctor. You can
keep your plan.”
Then of course, one of the reasons for the delay of school was that people realized that kids were
getting reduced lunch, at breakfast and lunch because of schools, so we have to make sure that we are allowing
people to survive this economy and have money that doesn’t require them to get food from their local school
district.
These students have been getting breakfasts and lunches in school long before the pandemic due to
family income through the NSLP (National School Lunch Program) which provides nutritionally balanced, low-
cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch
Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.
So we have to support families in this broken economy. That means lifting the minimum wage to $15
per hour.
Raising the pay floor to $15 per hour by 2025 would boost wages for 17 million workers, the
nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated. At the same time, 1.3 million people would lose jobs,
according to the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) projections.

(Raising the minimum wage has a number of serious and negative unintended consequences. Employers,
especially small family and midsize businesses will be disproportionately hurt by the extra costs incurred. The
local neighborhood stores and businesses with razor-thin profits will be forced to raise prices to make up for
the addition labor costs. With the increased prices, customers may elect to take their business elsewhere. Losing
customers means losing income, which could result in the business having to layoff workers.
The other fall out from this major raise in the minimum wage will be that there will be more self
-checkout lanes in big stores.
Many big stores will turn to technology. It's easier and less expensive to have technology take over. The
unintended consequence will be that there will be far fewer jobs available for those that need them most.
“I think it’s clear that we did not have a national contingency plan to deal with a situation like this. So,
we find ourselves in the situation we’re in. I think there is blame to go around on all sides on this issue. When I
was a graduate student at Penn State, in the bio – technology field there was a lot of this stuff on the fact that a
pandemic would cause chaos. We need to is get a multi – disciplinary team of people including law
enforcement, military, scientific community to come up with a contingency plan that will be in place and will be
triggered by certain events.” Parietti suggested.
He says that we can’t wait until the virus gets here and tt has to be done in advance. That way we can be
sure that it doesn’t ravage these communities some of the minority communities and other communities that
have been affected by it.
All communities have been affected by this virus regardless of economic status. This virus, like all
viruses does not discriminate based on how much money you have your station in the community or your
political affiliation.
Parietti went back to his position on the religious communities. “On the local level we’ve had some
issues with outbreaks in the religious community. I think that goes back to what I said earlier, I think we can
stop funding schools that don’t teach children to respect our system respect our leaders and respect our laws
because when our leaders give directives or take measures to try to prevent an outbreak, they feel like they don’t
really need to adhere to them and only doing that their leaders are telling them. I think that is a big issue on the
local level that needs to be rectified.”
Schulman took a more practical look at the problem and the role of the federal and local governments
and the people in solving this and gave what many states with conservative leadership have done as a solution
to this situation. “I don’t like the fact that the federal government is giving us rules as adults I feel we should be
given the criteria, given the safety measures and it’s up to us and our local governments to do this. I don’t want
a federal law saying that everyone has to wear a mask every time they go outside. What if you live on a farm
and only have your wife and your children? You have to wear a mask every time you go outside? You want the
Army and the police involved in this! This is crazy. It’s a local thing. Give us the information. Let us make the
decisions for our health and our family’s health. I don’t want the federal government telling me what to do in
this case. We don’t need a nanny state.”
“I think the problem in response to your question, in terms of minority and marginalized communities is
how they were far more greatly impacted by COVID. I personally saw that first hand. I delivered a little over
10,000 meals during the pandemic and 10,000 PPE’s in many different types of communities. Some very
wealthy also. People were locked up for all sorts of medical reasons. This was the first time I was engaged
charity where I was actually helping wealthy people. It was a very unusual feeling. The reason COVID hit those
communities hardest, is because they weren’t equipped to begin with. It’s not something that we could have
done now. Right now we need to prepare for the next one. We need to reinforce those communities. Those
communities can be much stronger than they are. The problem is federal money does not get there.” Eisen
explained.

New York State and City would have been prepared for this if Cuomo had listened to HIS OWN Health
Department Report back in 2015. They told him he was going to be 15,783 ventilators short in the event of a
pandemic. Instead of buying the equipment to combat a pandemic, he spent over $1.3 billion on two failed
companies, a solar panel factory and a computer chip factory. NYC Mayor De Blasio spent $90 million on a
light bulb factory that also failed. These were local failures, long before Trump became President.
“I think it’s important to try to put as much power into the local governments rather than in the federal
government. Local governments are closer to the people, they are more engaged with the lives of the people and
I think that is a good idea.” Gottesfeld stated. That is why our founding fathers set up the federal system.
She looked at this problem for the standpoint of the scientific community and basically said what people
called a lack of preparedness was because of the disconnect between the government and the scientists. “I was a
chemical engineer/scientist. What I saw and what I think what most people were able to see with the COVID
pandemic was that we really weren’t prepared. We didn’t have a plan going forward or scientists ready to tackle
whatever issue came up. In this case it was a pandemic. In the future what we do need is a more science based
focused approach for situations like these which include: focusing on the problem at hand and not adding in
other problems that we have in the country. We need to tackle each problem individually. If we have a problem
with poverty, tackle that without trying to put in other goals and other things that we also want to accomplish. I
think that hindered some of the progress that we could have made earlier when we saw that other issues that we
were having in the country were trying to be solved while others were suffering with this pandemic. I think
tackling each issue individually, without doing them on top of the pandemic should another situation come up
like this in the future.”
Polos turned the attention of the candidates to the economic issues created by the pandemic. “Due to the
pandemic, the Congressional District 17 is facing serious financial and budget implications. What are your
proposals to stimulate the economy in this district and how do you propose funding them?”
According to Eisen this is about taking the fight to the people in DC who just routinely ignore our
district and don’t give us anything. I think the thing to really do now echoing what Mr. Parietti said is to get a
really big infrastructure bill. People would rather get $1000 or $1200 a week for work than $600 or $800 from
the government for doing nothing.
“The big thing is fighting in DC for more money in the district and then really looking at a big time
infrastructure plan.” Eisen said

“We are facing the worst economic crisis since the great depression.” Jones stated. This
economic crisis was caused by the pandemic. Prior to pandemic economy was the best in the world with the
lowest unemployment figures for ALL demographics. Jones feels that Donald Trump and Republicans in
Congress told this district to drop dead a few days ago when Democrats tried to pass the Heroes Act which
would have provided $1 Trillion in state and local aid all across this country including right here in Westchester
and Rockland Counties. What Jones doesn’t acknowledge is that, The reason it was blocked was because of the
list of non COVID related provisions included in it which Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in the House wanted
and refused to negotiate unless those things were left in there. Current reporting focuses on the amount of
spending on such particulars as stimulus checks, unemployment boosts, and the like, while ignoring the endless
list of additional provisions, from ballot harvesting to a T-band auction repeal, to yes, a new variation on a
multiemployer public pension bailout, broadband service, immigration, prisons, the U.S. Postal Service, federal
elections. Yes the stimulus checks and unemployment boosts are good things, but what do the what do the rest of
these things have to do with dealing with the COVID crisis? These things are called pork barrel legislation all
they do is add fat to the bill for pet projects of the democrats that they couldn’t get in separate bills.

According to Jones, the budget shortfall in NYS is forecast to be over $13 billion dollars. Much of
which happened before the damage to the economy from the pandemic and the governor’s lockdowns. The
Democrats in Congress want to add money to the next stimulus package to bail out states like New York and
California. Rich Mermelstein a former NY resident, now living in Florida asked, “Why should my tax dollars
go to bail out New York State’s deficit, which is due to poor fiscal management and wasteful spending, which
has been happening since prior to the pandemic, when the state I live in now is fiscally responsible?”
Jones made the additional claim that there are teachers who have negotiated contracts with school
districts who won’t get their pay increases because of obstruction in the US Congress but did not specify which
districts or explain how Congress obstructed money for the teachers to get their pay raises.
Schulman, Parietti and Gottesfeld focused their answers on the effect this pandemic is having on the
small businesses.
Parietti exclaimed, “First and foremost I want to say, I think we definitely need to get aid to our small
businesses and other entities that are struggling with the pandemic. If we don’t do something fast, I think we are
going to end up with and economy that’s dominated by big tech and a lot of these smaller firms are going to be
put out of business. We need to get federal aid to help them outlast the pandemic and keep them viable”
“One important thing that we can do is to try to get an infrastructure bill. The other candidates have
spoken about the need for infrastructure in the Hudson Valley. I think that would be an excellent way to bring
funding that would create jobs, that would put people back to work, and it would spill over into other local
businesses.” He added.
Gottesfeld feels that solving the problem will require long term solutions not short – term ones. “There
are small businesses in the district that are really hurting. The pandemic, especially in the beginning was a real
big question mark. We need to help people in the moment so that people can survive and stay on their feet.
What we really want to do is get people jobs and make sure that you have a free market so that jobs are always
flowing so that people can get a job and provide for their families and money that comes out of the taxpayer
dollars so they are not relying on government.”
Schulman agreed with Parietti. “Small business is so important to the economy. I have a friend who has
owned a restaurant/bar for 19 years. She doesn’t know if she’s going to make it to the 20 th year. It’s frightening.
She has employees, they all pay taxes. It’s scary. Last week I was walking through Ossining with an interpreter
because I don’t speak Spanish. We were speaking to the small businesses. They really are struggling. People
don’t have money to spend in their stores and because of that they don’t have money to pay their rent. They’re
afraid. A lot of them are immigrants. It’s the American dream for them to come here and open a business and
make money and buy a house and all of those things.”
Her solution to help these businesses is to find a way to meet up with them and discuss the problem and
figure out the best way to help them. INCLUDE them in this process. Don’t just make up rules that don’t
include the people that are truly affected by this.