NEW YORK, NY — Democrats living on the east side of Manhattan as well as parts of north Brooklyn and western Queens will head to the polls on June 23 to cast their votes in a contested primary for New York's 12th Congressional District.
Longtime incumbent Carolyn Maloney will face off against challengers Suraj Patel, Lauren Ashcraft and Peter Harrison. Maloney has served in the House of Representatives since being elected to what was then New York's 15th Congresional District in 1992. Unlike Maloney, most of her challengers are outside of New York City's political establishment, and are running to the left of the incumbent on a number of issues.
The primary election is open to registered Democratic voters. All New York voters may request a mail-in ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ballots must be postmarked by the date of the election for the vote to count.
For those who want to head to the polls, click here to find your poll site. Early voting is available from June 13 to June 21.
Patch reached out to all candidates in the primary election to create these profiles. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
Age as of Election Day (Nov. 3)
NYC neighborhood of residence
Mom and Dad: Nanya and Champack Patel. Brothers: Viral, an Emergency Medicine Doctor, and Vikas, a Policy Director.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
No (my family is helping with my campaign currently).
Stanford, Cambridge, NYU Law.
Attorney, business ethics professor at NYU Stern, Obama campaigns, Obama White House, Clinton campaign.
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Why are you seeking elective office?
I'm running for Congress because over the past 30 years our infrastructure has deteriorated, rents have skyrocketed, and public housing has crumbled. It's become too expensive to go to college, and too costly not to. Upward mobility is the promise of New York, but lately it feels like the exception rather than the rule. After three decades of no progress, and three decades of the same representation, we need new leaders with vision that is bold and progressive. Working people, small business owners, immigrants, activists, and educators on both sides of the East River deserve to be heard, and I will represent each and every one of us.
The single most pressing issue facing our nation/state/community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Systemic Racism and Structural Inequality.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
Unlike the incumbent Representative, I do not accept corporate PAC money and will be accountable only to our neighbors and community - not the big banks and corporations. That is the baseline of what you deserve, and corporate PAC money has exacerbated the issues that have not gotten better during the Representative's 28-year tenure - including the growth of mass incarceration, which the incumbent played a role in through her vote for the 1994 Crime Bill. Of the three challengers, I am the only candidate with the professional experience, team, funding, and name recognition to win against the incumbent. I ran for this seat in 2018 and nearly won; I have spent three years organizing our communities, and this time we are all so very ready for bold, progressive change.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
We are in a historic, change moment for our City and nation. The aspirations of the millions of us who have marched in the streets in the wake of George Floyd's murder at the hands of police need to be turned into law. Representative Maloney has spent her career as a conservative Democrat in Washington expanding policing, bringing back federal dollars to incarcerate undocumented immigrants, and surrounding herself with folks like Rudy Giuliani and Ray Kelly, both of whom were instrumental in creating and expanding stop and frisk in NYC. We can not trust those responsible for creating the systems of oppression we now march against to return to Washington and fix them - it's time for a new generation of leaders like myself to represent our communities and usher in a new era of healing.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
Family Opportunity Guarantee: A landmark suite of five family-focused policies that would cut child poverty in half in the first year alone and put us on the track to eradicate it over the next decade:
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Medicare for Kids (pathway to M4A)
A Public Option for Child Care
Nationwide Pre-K for all 3 and 4 year olds
Universal Child Dividend ($500 per child, per month ages 0-5; $350 per child, per month ages 6-17)
The Discovery Project: The Discovery Project is a mobilization of public resources to boost research back to Apollo-era levels—a legislative initiative calling for space race–scale mobilization and investment to discover, cure, alleviate and better the greatest challenges and opportunities facing humanity:
A $200 billion increase in funding for existing research agencies like the NIH, NOAA and NSF, along with public universities;
$100 billion for the development of geographically distributed “Discovery Hubs”;
Open-source, open-access research as industrial policy—like the Erie Canal for the 21st century, we should view this as a public works project that the entire economy can benefit from.
Living Shorelines: Inspired by Senator Warren’s Blue New Deal, this proposal would allow coastal communities to fight and adapt to climate change. A living shoreline provides erosion control benefits; protects, restores, or enhances natural shoreline habitat; and maintains coastal processes through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill, and other organic structural materials. This includes beaches, salt marshes, oyster and mussel beds, reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and regenerative ocean farms.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
My experience as an attorney, educator, Obama staffer and the son of immigrants make me the best suited candidate for our district in this historic moment. I understand how to navigate Washington and deliver progressive change for NYC.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
Hillary Clinton used to say on her campaign, "Take attacks by your opponent seriously, not personally." This year that has proved more true than ever.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
Follow my dogs, Eli and Peyton, on Twitter @PatelPups as we hit the campaign trail together in these final weeks! And check out all of my policies, earned media, and differences with the incumbent at SurajPatel.nyc. My campaign office is located at 170 Avenue B in the East Village, and all are welcome to stop by for a poster and a tee shirt!