Opening Remarks at Citizen Action Forum

A marshall plan for job creation

Environmental protections

Opioid crisis

Fighting for Medicare for All

I believe the #1 priority for a Representative is to listen to constituents and take a proactive approach to addressing your concerns. As I’ve travelled the district, I’ve heard a lot of you share what issues you care most about and I want to work with you to create solutions that better our families, our workplaces and our quality of life here in the 19th. I encourage you to reach out to me and my team about any questions or concerns you have. You can email me directly at or our team at You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter and don’t ever hesitate to reach out and find out where I will be in the district. This is a long fight ahead of us and I want you beside me.

We need a marshall plan for job creation. A $300B plan to invest and create the jobs for a 21st Century economy– invest in upskilling our employees and transportation infrastructure which has a multiplier effect, creating more jobs for across our district.

The 19th District is home to family-owned businesses that have flourished for generations and budding startups are popping up across the district. We should embrace our economic diversity by investing in all of it and truly provide our entrepreneurs with the resources and tools they need to be innovative and make a difference in their community.

We do this by:

  • Comprehensive job training and retraining.
  • Infrastructure investment.
  • Reliable and accessible broadband and cell service.
  • Small Agriculture Farm Subsidy Transfer.
  • Small Business Acceleration program.
  • Tax reform for small businesses.

You could say that protecting workers’ rights is in my blood, quite literally. My great uncle, Michael Quill, founded the Transit Workers Union – and standing up for the rights of workers to organize and bargain is a value I learned at a very young age.

  • Standing up for the rights of workers to collectively bargain and organize.
  • Support nationwide paid family leave & paid sick leave legislation
  • Fight to close the wage gap and demand equal pay across industry sectors
  • Ensure that safety regulations in the workplace work for everyone and put the employees first

In 2003, I worked alongside progressive champions and created an organization devoted to bringing single payer to the forefront of the healthcare conversation. The Affordable Care Act was a great start – and we must do everything possible to defend it from the near constant attempts by Donald Trump and the Republicans to repeal it – but we must do even more. I support moving to a Medicare for All system because no one should have to be burdened by unnecessary debt when it comes to maintaining our health and wellness.

We must also ensure that mental health is incorporated into any health care debate. For too long we have treated mental illness as a judiciary issue; it’s time we recognize that mental health is a health issue and we should devote resources as such.

We need to take the opioid and heroin epidemic that is spiking in our District head on. Our communities need access to mental health and rehabilitation facilities and comprehensive treatment programs that have proven track records need to be infused with funding and skilled employees to help get our neighbors back on their feet. We are seeing effective pilot programs throughout the District and should invest in ourselves to create stronger communities.

We cannot succeed as a nation if we continue to discriminate against more than half the country. We need specific legislation to protect women’s rights and level the playing field. We must ensure that women have access to affordable healthcare including reproductive healthcare clinics like Planned Parenthood. A woman’s right to equal pay must also be addressed at the federal level, I support passing the Paycheck Fairness Act that would build upon the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Additionally, we must commit to supporting childcare and paid family leave because a woman should not be forced to sacrifice their careers to care for their family.

The decisions about how and when to start a family are personal and important, and I believe women should have the full rights, freedoms and authority to make decisions in the best interest of themselves, their health and their families. Women are a cornerstone to their own families economic well-being and I support creating a system that doesn’t require women to choose between parenting and their jobs. Simply, it’s about freedom. The freedom to choose when to start a family, the freedom to not be afraid of losing a job or not being insured. As a husband and father, it is imperative that the closest women in my life have the controls of their future, and that goes the same for any woman in our nation.

I believe we all have a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it for our children. As a former small business owner, I also happen to believe that the business community has a special responsibility to be stewards of our environment – so I founded the New York chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs and spent years bringing business owners together to take on big polluters. In the 19th Congressional district, it’s not just the environment, it is literally our way of life.

  • We must invest in renewable energy systems and promote a carbon tax to curb excessive greenhouse emissions. In turn, we create new jobs and cleaner air and water.
  • We have a tremendous opportunity in the 19th congressional district to be a job creation leader in developing wind and solar infrastructure.
  • We must stay vigilant and continue to take on corporate polluters who have no regard for our rivers, streams, and public lands; because profits should never take precedent over our health, wellness and natural beauty that surrounds us.
  • We must apply consistent and unwavering pressure on the Trump Administration to re-enter the Paris Accords and continue to find ways at the state and municipal level to adhere.

Corporations have a stranglehold on our democratic process and that must stop immediately. I strongly believe that we must repeal Citizens United and get corporate money and Super PACs out of our politics and empower the people to take back their democracy. I support the idea of establishing term limits for our federally elected representatives in Congress. We must find a balance between institutional knowledge and ridding out-of-touch representatives with their sense of entitlement.

Continued education should never be a burden for a young person. The growing personal debt that current and future college students and their families incur should never detract from one’s desire to learn. I support tuition-free public universities, trade schools and community colleges that allow our future generations to learn, spur economic growth and expand our worldview.

At the same time, I recognize that college is not for everyone.

Associate degrees and trade programs provide high school graduates with the necessary tools they need to succeed whether that be on the family farm or in the workplace. Our labor unions have been doing this for decades through apprenticeship programs that have produced some of the highest skilled electricians, plumbers, and iron workers our nation has ever seen.

As someone who has studied and worked in counter-terrorism for thirty years, I find it maddening that this Administration continues to make serious policy errors that will only result in more terrorism. The horrific “Muslim ban” is unconstitutional, immoral and ineffective in dealing with terrorism. Additionally, the attempt to reduce diplomatic efforts and spend more on military solutions is exactly what leads to the extremism around the world. Although I support swift military action against those states that commit terrorist attacks against the United States, I proudly marched against the war in Iraq – as it had nothing to do with battling terrorism. Global institutions and alliances do more to protect us from terrorism than any missile system and need to be reinforced, not abandoned.

As the grandson of four Irish immigrants, I believe in the power of immigration to grow and diversify a country and an economy. My people came here to escape religious and economic persecution, but they came with no special skills other than their character and work ethic. My grandfather was an undocumented immigrant for years. We need comprehensive immigration reform to bring law-abiding immigrants out of the shadows and protect families from being torn apart by aggressive tactics. We need to develop policies that will enable us to continue to welcome people from all over the world that want to be part of the American dream.

I believe that every American – regardless of race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or sexual identity – is entitled to the same set of basic human rights and civil liberties. And with a President who openly provides cover to white nationalists, the fight for civil rights and liberties remains as important now as ever before religion.

LGBTQ Rights: I stand beside as a vocal and strong ally to the LGBTQ community. I believe it is imperative that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people live openly, without discrimination and enjoy the same equal rights, personal autonomy and freedom of expression that any human being carries in our nation.

Civil Rights: Even before 1964, our country has been challenged to provide equal protections for all its citizens. Protecting our civil rights is a fundamental and essential component of our democratic society. I support the fair and equal treatment of all individuals including education, employment, housing, public services and all American liberties.