Obama, Lowey, Oppenheimer, Klein, Paulin, Latimer

My endorsements for this year’s general election will come as little surprise to those who know my views about national and state politics. I am a Democrat and will vote for the entire Democratic ticket. More than in most years, however, the challenges in 2008 demand a fundamental change in direction and make support for progressive candidates imperative.

For President: Barack Obama

Barack Obama is among the most talented individuals of his generation. He has run an exceptional campaign, in which he has demonstrated the intellect and temperament to be a great President and surrounded himself with a disciplined and experienced team of aides and advisers. Obama’s proposals on economic, health care, energy, and environmental matters are forward-looking and aimed primarily at benefiting working Americans and the middle-class. His victory would accomplish a fundamental and urgently-needed change in the direction of our domestic and foreign policies, and also, I hope, restore a measure of decency and civility to our politics. As a backer of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, I can say that Barack Obama’s conduct has earned not only my support, but also my enthusiasm. America needs Barack Obama as our next President.

For Congress: Nita Lowey

I have had the great privilege of working with Nita Lowey for almost twenty years. She is an outstanding public servant — principled, effective, and responsive — who has made a critical difference in Washington on many of the most pressing policy challenges. Nita’s record on education, biomedical research, women’s health, environmental protection, and homeland security easily ranks her among the most accomplished Members of Congress in the entire nation. Today, as the Chair of an Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Nita is at the peak of her influence and is widely recognized for her leadership throughout the world. At the same time, Nita has been exceptionally attentive to local priorities. Her service to New Rochelle — on projects such as the North Avenue streetscape, Transit Center, and Davids Island clean-up — is second to none. In both personal and professional terms, I am very proud to endorse Nita Lowey.

For State Senate: Suzi Oppenheimer & Jeff Klein

Most of New Rochelle is represented in the New York State Senate by Suzi Oppenheimer. This year, Suzi faces a vigorous challenge from Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld. I like Mayor Feld very much and have worked well with her on inter-municipal issues, but I strongly endorse Suzi for reelection. First, Suzi has been a good friend to New Rochelle, standing with us on difficult issues and delivering essential resources to support education, public health, the arts, and other local services. Second, Suzi has a deep personal commitment to public service that is rooted in a genuine and passionate desire to help others — she is refreshingly uncynical about her responsibilities. Lastly, and very importantly, Suzi will be critical to changing the State Senate’s leadership and ending more than forty years of one-party control. Let me stress this last point, because it is counter-intuitive when considering a long-serving incumbent: in a very meaningful way, Suzi is the “change” candidate in this election, and her opponent, whatever her personal virtues, is the candidate of the Albany status quo.

Portions of southern and western New Rochelle are represented by Jeff Klein, and if I spend less time discussing this contest, it is only because Jeff does not face a serious challenge. Jeff is the Deputy Minority Leader in the State Senate, making him among the most influential voices among Senate Democrats. He has been and will be a critical ally in advancing New Rochelle’s principal interests in Albany, and he is also recognized state-wide for his intelligence and skill.

For State Assembly: Amy Paulin & George Latimer

The State Assembly is sometimes (and perhaps justifiably) derided as a mediocre institution, and so New Rochelle is particularly fortunate to have two standout Assemblypersons. Roughly speaking, George Latimer represents the southern half of New Rochelle and Amy Paulin represents the northern half. Both have earned reelection.

Amy’s grasp of policy details, her leadership on educational, public health, and criminal justice issues, her absolutely first-rate staff, and her phenomenal work ethic make her among the most impressive legislators in Albany. Although we are still working to achieve equity in the distribution of municipal aid, Amy has been an invaluable advocate and strategist on New Rochelle’s behalf, and we need to keep her working for us.

George is one of the most decent and thoughtful public figures I have ever known, with a rare ability to communicate complex subjects in a manner that connects to people’s daily lives. He offers a level of constituent service almost without parallel, evidenced by his omnipresence at community and neighborhood gatherings. Lastly, George has been a partner and ally for New Rochelle on the most challenging local issues, including some that have required genuine political courage.