Ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary election for New York’s newly-redrawn 12th congressional district, combining the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerry Nadler and Suraj Patel were asked by Upper East Site to give UES voters their ‘elevator pitch.’
This pitch has been edited for clarity and length
Suraj Patel: Well, I’m running for Congress because we desperately need generational change. New York needs new leaders, we face a different set of challenges and challenges that were present in the 1990s, when my opponents were elected.
You go down Second Avenue or First Avenue and you see record storefront vacancies. We see a city that has a seven and a half percent unemployment rate, which is almost two and a half times the national average. And we need people who have been in the private sector and public sector who know how to stop foreclosures to come back and bring the city back.
I’m fighting for our democracy. Look, the Democrats have lost every major battle from climate change to abortion or gun control to Mitch McConnell and Republicans. So we need some folks in there who fight for our rights. If we take the quarter of the times that we won our rights back that we lost over the last 30 years, you know, I’m going in this making the economic argument and the new arguments to win those back.
Nora Wesson: Do you think that you as a much younger candidate, you can relate to more of the district than your opponents can?
Suraj Patel: Well, I wouldn’t say I’m much younger, I’m 38 years old, which makes me the median age of adult males in America and the median age of this district. But the fact of the matter is that, you know, I spend my time in this district on the streets.
I know that the 456 platform ahead Union Square narrows to the north end. I know that 14th and First Avenue, just South of Stuytown, that the sidewalk vendors [inaudible] is almost impossible to get in the subway. I know that in the South, on 28th and seventh or so, where the Gristedes is, it’s almost impossible to go buy groceries without being harassed on [inaudible].
So there’s a distinction, which is about how much time you spend in Washington and how much time you get spent in the bubble of staffers and people around you. If you’re more seen from the realities of everyday New Yorkers.