NYC General Election 2020: Grace Meng Defends Seat In Congress

Maya Kaufman
·9 min read

BAYSIDE, QUEENS — Voters in Queens' 6th Congressional District, which spans Central and Northeast Queens, will see two congressional candidates on their ballots when they vote in the Nov. 3 election.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, is defending her seat against Republican challenger Thomas Zmich.

She is vying for another term representing the 6th Congressional District, which includes parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Elmhurst, Flushing, Forest Hills, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Murray Hill and Rego Park.

Patch reached out to all candidates in the election to create these profiles.

All New York voters may request a mail-in ballot for the upcoming election due to the coronavirus pandemic. For those who want to head to the polls, click here to find your poll site. Early voting is available from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1.

Grace Meng

Age as of Election Day (Nov. 3)

45

NYC neighborhood of residence

Bayside, Queens

Position Sought

U.S. Congress

Party Affiliation

Democrat

Family

Husband, Wayne, and two sons, Tyler and Brandon.

Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?

No

Education

University of Michigan (BA, 1997), Cardozo School of Law (JD, 2002)

Occupation

Representative in Congress 2013-Present

Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office

Representative in Congress 2013-Present
New York State Assembly 2009-2012

Campaign website

gracefornewyork.com

Why are you seeking elective office?

As a woman of color and the daughter of immigrants, I understand the structural barriers and biases that affect many of the people of my district. As the mother of two young boys in public schools, I recognize the importance of investing in a future that works for everyone. Less than 25% of Representatives in Congress are women, less than half of that are women of color. We need diverse voices to find common ground and come up with solutions to help people who are often left behind in the decision making process.

The single most pressing issue facing our nation/state/community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

Growing up in the most diverse county in America taught me that every person deserves a seat at the table. It's my priority to advocate for inclusive policies and ensure equal access to opportunities. This requires bringing down the structural barriers that prevent people from reaching their full potential. I have introduced legislation to effectively end homelessness, help new Americans thrive, and close the education gap. Because everyone deserves the basic resources they need to reach their full potential.

Since the 2016 Presidential Election, our country has seen a disturbing spike in the amount of hate crimes against the Jewish community, the LGBTQ community, immigrant communities, and communities of color. In Congress I have introduced legislation and helped allocate funds to help our communities address and combat hate crimes.

The COVID-19 outbreak exposed deep inequalities in our society. Immigrants, people of color, and low-income families were the hardest hit by this virus. I was proud to vote for coronavirus relief legislation which included provisions I worked to obtain. This provided:

-Additional cash assistance to families.
-Extended hazard pay for all frontline workers.
-Expanded funding for SNAP, as well as allowing the program to cover hot food purchases from retailers.
-Ability of immigrants who use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) to receive economic stimulus payments.
-Extension of work permits for immigrants, many of whom are serving as essential workers on the frontlines of combating the coronavirus pandemic.
-The Emergency Educational Connections Act (H.R. 6563), my bill which would provide $1.5 billion for internet access for students who are doing remote learning.
-Nearly $200 billion to help struggling renters and homeowners pay their rent and mortgages to help them stay in their homes.
-Billions for coronavirus testing and contract tracing.
-Extensions of the enhanced unemployment insurance.

What are your thoughts on the state and national response to the coronavirus pandemic? Do you favor such measures as limiting operation of non-essential businesses or restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a nationwide mask mandate?

As for small businesses, I believe our government must be there to help them recover from losses related to the coronavirus. Earlier this year, I passed legislation into law for the SBA to provide billions in low interest loans, and I helped to pass legislation that established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), forgivable loans to help struggling small businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19. I also voted to pass bipartisan legislation to increase the flexibility and access of these loans in order to better meet the needs of small business owners. Last year, I helped create a Small Business Development Center in my district which provides free assistance and resources to local small businesses including during the pandemic. I've also worked with the Queens Chamber of Commerce and local community chambers of commerce and organizations to distribute personal protective equipment to area small businesses including everything from face masks to gloves to thermometers so that small businesses can keep their customers and employees safe, In addition, I am cosponsoring the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act which would provide billions of dollars to help restaurants and drinking establishments cover the costs of payroll, utilities, rent and other critical operating expenses.

How would you address the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement, and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?

We must address the inequalities in our criminal justice system and seek restorative justice for marginalized communities. Many are angry over years of racial injustices that have afflicted our nation for too long. We must not continue to put off needed reforms.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

I have a proven record of advocating and getting results for my community. I am committed to running a positive, issue driven campaign and listening to all of my constituents, regardless of their background or political ideology. I understand the importance of listening to those who disagree with me and coming up with solutions to helping the people of this district, city, state and country. The current state of our country needs a bridge builder not divisiveness. My priority has and will always be to get our district the resources it needs. Now more than ever, that should be the focus.

If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)

N/A

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform

I am deeply proud to represent the 6th Congressional district and honored that the voters continue to have confidence in me to be their voice in Washington. My platform is defined by advocacy for equal rights and access to opportunity for all Americans. I'm proud to have been a leader in the effort to expand access to health care, in the fight against climate change, and pushing for tougher gun safety laws. I have stood up to the Trump administration, fighting back against the President's divisive rhetoric and xenophobic policies, and I've fought for underrepresented communities such as the many hard working families and immigrants that make our borough great. I have and will continue working with our labor unions to ensure safe working conditions. I will continue fighting for women and equal pay; protecting social security and Medicaid, ensuring that veterans receive the support and services they earned; fighting for affordable housing; and being a voice for the voiceless. We must continue our fight for COVID-19 recovery and prevention, ensuring affordable healthcare for all, and protecting small businesses.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

Since I was first sworn into Congress in 2013, I have fought tirelessly for the people of my district, and I have delivered results. I have passed legislation into law and secured billions of dollars in funding to help immigrant communities, seniors, veterans, the environment, health care, small businesses, and children and families. I've worked to strengthen affordable housing, gun safety and animal welfare laws. I have also fought to improve our schools in Queens and enhance student safety, and helped obtain improvements to our local transportation system including making our borough's infrastructure handicap accessible. Recently, I:
- Obtained funds to open a Small Business Development Center in our district to help local small businesses grow and succeed.
- Passed provisions into law seeking to combat excessive airplane noise over Queens.
- Worked to improve mail delivery; helped to avoid potential post office closures in our district; and convinced the Postal Service to retrofit all blue collection boxes in Queens to combat mail fishing.
- Passed legislation into law to combat telephone scams.
- Worked on keeping kids out of harm's way as Co-Chair of the Kids' Safety Caucus, the first bipartisan group in the House of Representatives I helped to launch that addresses kids safety issues.
- Defeated the President's effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census which would have had a detrimental impact on accurate population count and future federal funding for New York.
- Made menstrual hygiene products more accessible to women and girls.
I have worked with constituents, civic leaders and organizations from throughout Queens on numerous issues to strengthen our communities. My team and I have helped tens of thousands of constituents obtain services and assistance from the federal government; helping them navigate federal government agencies and cut through government bureaucracy and red-tape. I take the definition and title of my job — Representative — very seriously. I will always be there for my constituents and will continue fighting for them to ensure that our communities receive the resources to which we are entitled.

The best advice ever shared with me was: (No response)

What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

I am a product of this district and I'm living and raising my family here. Born in Elmhurst and raised in Bayside and Flushing, I'm proud of the deep ties that I have throughout all our wonderful communities. I am honored to have the endorsements of many unions and advocacy organizations. Some endorsements include: 1199, 32BJ, AFGE, ATU, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), CWA, DC 37, HTC, IBEW Local 3, New York Immigrant Coalition Action, New York League of Conservation Voters, NPMHU, NYS AFL-CIO, NYSNA, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, RWDSU, Sanitation Workers, Teamsters Local 237, TWU National, UFT, United Auto Workers (UAW), Working Families Party (WFP), and PEF.
We may not agree on everything but my door is always open. I believe it is important for all of my constituents to feel that they can express not only their positive experiences but their frustrations and suggestions on what we can do better. I am ready to listen at all times. My team and I are here to serve the people of the 6th Congressional District of New York.

This article originally appeared on the Bayside-Douglaston Patch