Monday, Feb 26th

Interview with Vedat Gashi, Candidate for Congress

VedatGashiWestchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi is running for the Democratic nomination to represent Congressional District #16 against incumbent Jamaal Bowman and fellow member of the Board of Legislators Catherine Parker from Rye. The primary will be held on August 23, 2022 and here is what you need to know to vote.

Learn more about Gashi here:

Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us something about your background, your family and professional and political careers to date.

My name is Vedat Gashi and I am running to bring real results and real progress to the families of Westchester and the Bronx. When I was four years old, I came to the U.S. as a refugee when my parents fled an oppressive regime in Kosovo. I was raised in the Bronx and attended public schools. Although my parents only had a middle school education, they worked very hard, succeeded and taught us that we can do anything.

My campaign is focused on ensuring that everyone has a shot at the American dream regardless of their zip code, income or status. This country offered me a chance to succeed, which is why I am committed to providing working families a true path to the middle class and beyond.

Currently, I serve as a Westchester County legislator. Since taking office in 2020, my office has:

-Passed a first in the nation gun safety law
-Protected women’s right to seek vital health care by passing a clinic access bill
-Delivered millions for childcare and affordable housing
-Supported small businesses impacted by COVID-19

What persuaded you to make a bid for the seat?

Our nation is at a crossroads and we need representatives that will safeguard our rights, protect our democratic values and create innovative policy solutions to get people back to work and propel our economy forward.

As a refugee from a country without a democracy, it pains me to see our leaders and Democrats fighting each other instead of working together to get things done. As a county legislator, I’ve always delivered and worked with others to get results – putting people and the everyday issues, not partisan politics or ideology.

What is your view on the redistricting of the Congressional map and the change in primary date? How did that affect your decision to run, and what impact might it have on the outcome?

The district lines have changed, but my reason for running has not. The new redistricting maps simply presented an opportunity for our grassroots campaign to thrive. We are focused on bringing our country together to deliver actual progress for everyday New Yorkers.

Do you currently live in the district?

Redistricting has created a situation where a number of candidates across the area have found themselves outside the district they were previously running in. I was raised in the Bronx, currently live in Yorktown and work in the district at the Board of Legislators offices in White Plains. After the election, I will move into the district. Meanwhile, I look forward to continuing my dialogue with residents of the district to learn more about their concerns and share my vision of how we can strengthen our country and create a fairer nation that works for everyone.
Given that Bowman is the incumbent and has received many endorsements from organizations and unions, do you think it will be possible to unseat him?

During this campaign I’ve met with a wide variety of supporters, and we’ve picked up many important endorsements. As of date, we’ve raised over $800,000, maintained a cash-on-hand advantage against the competition and are on track for an even stronger fund-raising total by the end of this quarter. This district deserves a representative who supports President Biden’s agenda, will put progress before posturing and will work hard to get things done.

How do you distinguish your platform from Bowman’s? and from Parker’s?

This is not the time to debate ideology or for performative politics. We are living in unprecedented times and I am a commonsense democrat who will roll up their sleeves on day one to protect abortion rights, marriage equality, access to affordable health care, quality public schools and equitable housing.

Specifically, I will work to codify Roe v. Wade to ensure reproductive care is protected under the law as a fundamental right; support legislation that normalizes relations between Israel and a number of Arab nations; and collaborate with the federal government to expand funding for infrastructure. I strongly object to the incumbent’s votes against the Abraham Accords and his support for Congresswoman’s Tlaib’s Nakba resolution that calls the creation of the state of Israel a “catastrophe.”

What achievements are you most proud of during your term of service on the Westchester County Board of Legislators?

I’ve actively served my constituents across Westchester as county legislator by lowering taxes, improving infrastructure, securing gasoline tax relief, supporting the Reproductive Health Care Facilities Access Act, approving a measure to combat gender and race-based workplace pay inequality and combating gun violence by requiring warning labels to be posted wherever firearms are sold.

What do you hope to do in Congress to benefit Westchester residents? Is there any chance of reinstating our SALT deductions?

As the Chair of Appropriations at the Board of Legislators, I’ve built support for expanding services while cutting taxes, and in Congress, I’ll do the same. I’m focused on making real progress on the kitchen table issues like holding down taxes, lowering health care costs, strengthening our infrastructure, and improving our economy. The elimination of SALT has had a strong punitive economic impact on residents of the district and in congress I will fight to restore it.

With a polarized Congress and a divided country, give us your views on how the two sides can reach consensus to pass legislation on climate change, gun control, voting rights and women’s rights?

I’m all for reaching across the aisle for bipartisan consensus whenever realistically possible. That being said, I think the best chance to move the aforementioned legislation forward is for Democrats to maintain their majority in the House and increase their majority in the Senate, which I am working hard to achieve during these midterm elections.

Anything else you would like to add is welcome.

As someone who came to this country as a refugee, I know firsthand the importance of strengthening international relationships with our allies. As a young attorney, I returned to Kosovo to help draft foundational legal documents and establish Kosovo’s Ministry of Local Government Administration. I also served as the Chief Legal Advisor to Kosovo’s Prime Minister. Therefore, I find it troubling that the incumbent has actively tried to weaken the U.S. relationship with one of our most important allies in the world.

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