With Election Day just two weeks away, the race for New York’s 4th Congressional District, which covers the communities of Bellerose, Bellerose Terrace, East Meadow, Elmont, Floral Park, Garden City, Mineola, Carle Place, New Hyde Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor, Wantagh, Westbury, and other towns and villages, is heating up. Recently, Democratic incumbent Kathleen Rice and her opponent Republican Douglas Tuman answered a series of questions from Anton Media Group about this year’s upcoming election on Nov. 3.
Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?
A: I was raised in Garden City alongside my nine brothers and sisters. I’ve spent my entire career working as a public servant, the majority of which as a prosecutor. I began my career as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn where I prosecuted cases of domestic violence and gang activity before joining the office’s elite Homicide Bureau. In 1999, I was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney, where I worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Philadelphia office. In 2005, I was elected as the Nassau County DA, where I was able to serve the very community in which I was raised. As the first woman DA in Nassau County, I worked hard to support women’s rights in every facet of our society—in the workplace, in our health care system and in education. Those are issues that I’ve continued to fight for in Congress.
Q: If reelected, what are some of the key points you’ll focus on?
A: First and foremost, one of my top priorities in the new Congress will be to help our school districts, small businesses, hospitals, and nursing homes recover from this pandemic. In addition to providing these entities with the targeted financial relief they need, I’m also hoping to help them develop and implement new precautions and processes to avoid future COVID-19 surges and combat future pandemics. We have to do more than just bounce back from this crisis; we need to learn from this experience and become more resilient in the same way that we did after Superstorm Sandy. But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost sight of the many pressing issues that were facing my district before this pandemic hit and continue to impact my constituents still. That includes the need for immigration reform and gun control legislation, action to combat climate change, and of course, repealing the harmful cap on SALT deductions. While the House of Representatives has already passed measures to address these important issues over the past 18 months, the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to act on any of these bills. Nevertheless, I will remain committed to fighting for these priorities in the next Congress. Many of these issues, especially common-sense gun control legislation, have broad support among both the Democratic and Republican electorate. There is no reason why we should let politics get in the way of saving lives.
Q: How would you help your constituents combat COVID-19 if reelected?
A: The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented public health and economic crises that we need to confront simultaneously. Right now, the main issue facing my district and our country is the COVID-19 outbreak. Nassau County has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the country and the current uptick in cases as we enter the cold weather seasons is troubling. We need to focus on creating new jobs to replace those that were lost, we need to help our small and mid-sized businesses get back on their feet, and we need to provide continued financial relief to the families who have been most affected by this pandemic. I held weekly conference calls with small businesses in my district with the SBA and local experts to help navigate the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other programs available. We also need to think urgently about how we can help our vast healthcare, education, and transportation systems adapt to this new normal and ensure that they are prepared for future surges in COVID-19 cases. Long Island is in the process of reopening, and that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that our local municipalities, who provide critical services to our constituents, have the tools they need to operate safely and successfully in the weeks and months to come. All of this will require robust federal investment and I’m committed to helping our district secure the resources it needs to recover from this crisis and build back stronger. I am committed to getting a bipartisan relief bill through Congress that can be signed by the president. Our front line workers and small businesses deserve so much better than the typical Washington gridlock.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest accomplishment you’ve had thus far?
A: In recent years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in attacks on houses of worship and religious communities across the country, including the tragic Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and the Monsey Hanukkah stabbing here in New York. It’s critical that we provide every worshiper in our community with the security and peace of mind they rightfully deserve. This year, I helped local synagogues and organizations secure more than a million dollars in security grants. I’m also very proud of what we’ve accomplished on the legislative side. Since arriving in Congress, I’ve remained committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find sensible solutions to our most pressing challenges. Just this past year, I worked with a bipartisan group of Members in the House and Senate to introduce the Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Act, which would help families struggling with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s disease access critical resources and support offered under the Older Americans Act, which is currently only available to Americans 60 years of age or older. The original idea for the bill came from a constituent of mine here on Long Island who lost her husband to Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been incredible to watch this process develop from one meeting with a constituent to a bill on the floor of the House and Senate that will ultimately help hundreds of thousands of families across the country. I was thrilled when a majority of the provisions of this bill were included in the Dignity in Aging Act, a full reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.
Q: Since we’re facing a global pandemic, what is your plan for healthcare?
A: This pandemic has shown us just how important it is to ensure everyone has access to quality health care and can afford to see a doctor and get medication when they’re sick. Every person who has contracted COVID-19 in New York and across the country now has a pre-existing condition. First and foremost, we need to ensure that we safeguard the ACA and ensure that we maintain protections for people living with pre-existing conditions. We cannot allow our country to return to the days when insurance companies discriminated against people or kicked people off their plans. Not only do we need to defend those protections, but we should also strengthen the ACA to make private insurance more affordable for every family.
Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?
A: I am a proud Hempstead resident and father to my 6-year-old daughter, Frania. For the past four years, I have served as the commissioner of engineering for the Town of Hempstead. I earned a bachelor of engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and a JD from Hofstra Law. I am a licensed attorney and professional engineer. Now running for political office for the first time in my life, I am committed to serving as a representative of action that amplifies the voices of our residents. Over the past few months, I have visited every town in our district to meet our residents and hear about the issues that they care about. Last week, I launched an Every Town Tour to again visit every town between now and Election Day, so I can stay updated on the concerns and pulse of our communities. Every Wednesday night at my campaign headquarters in Hempstead, I host small business development workshops to help aspiring small businesses owners get started on their dreams. I am running because I am a candidate committed to action and representation for all residents in our district. I have developed detailed, ready-to-implement policy proposals to lower taxes, make college more affordable, protect and reform Social Security and promote recovery from COVID. If elected I am going to implement a text-message based polling system to effectively allow every constituent to vote directly on every issue on the floor of Congress. I believe this will help improve citizen engagement in democracy and will promote accountability in politics. Many people are disenfranchised and feel like their vote no longer counts since politicians all too often just tow the party line. I believe the job of a representative is to represent and advocate on behalf of all people in our district. The system that I pledge to implement will give every constituent—no matter what party they are in—a voice and opportunity to have their vote count beyond Election Day.
Q: Why did you decide to run for Congress?
A: I am running because our district has been left voiceless and vote-less for the last six years as our Congresswoman has missed more than 161 votes in Washington D.C.—two times more missed votes than the average member of Congress. As a result of Rice’s persistent absence, New York state has been taken advantage of in D.C. as we pay $26.6 billion more in federal taxes than we get back in federal funds each year. That is funding that should be going to improve our local schools, roads and small businesses as they recover from COVID. Over the past few months, I have been to every town in our district to hear the issues that our residents care about. Shockingly (or perhaps not shockingly given her consistent absence), the overwhelmingly majority of residents have never seen or even heard of Kathleen Rice. It is about time we have a strong leader that shows up and speaks up to advocate for the issues that our district cares about. In Congress, I will support our law enforcement, secure COVID relief funding for our district, lower taxes, lower the cost of higher education, lower the cost of prescription drugs, support Israel, and support our veterans.
Q: If elected, what are some of the key points you’ll focus on?
A: The key points that define my campaign include delivering COVID relief to small businesses and residents on Long Island; supporting our law enforcement; making Long Island more affordable through my six-part tax reform plan and promoting small business growth, reforming higher education through my Degree-in-Three Reform plan; investing in and improving local infrastructure; protecting and reforming Social Security; supporting Israel as our ally; supporting our veterans; and addressing climate change with private sector technology, development and innovation. For more detail on my plans, I encourage all residents of NY-04 to visit my website at www.douglastuman.com/issues or call/text me directly at 516-308-1703 to further discuss.
Q: How would you help your constituents combat COVID-19 if elected?
A: To help our district recover from COVID-19, I will spearhead a short- and long-term recovery plan. First and foremost, I would work across the aisle to immediately deliver financial relief to small businesses, families and citizens in the form of standalone stimulus payments. That would mean one bill that directly delivers support to small businesses and $1,200 stimulus checks to each eligible citizen — no strings or unrelated political objectives attached. Right now in Washington, self-interested politicians and partisan politics have produced gridlock because both parties are trying to stuff unrelated policy measures into their bills. It is not time to play politics. We need relief now.
My dual approach of providing funding to businesses and citizens will allow businesses to cover expenses to stay afloat, while improving our economy, which will in turn increase patronage at these small businesses. As businesses reopen, our government should provide PPE to promote safety and expedite economic recovery. As Congressman, I will introduce a bill that allows small businesses to deduct expenses incurred from the purchase of PPE supplies.
We must also create a business-friendly environment to promote small business recovery, start-up and consumerism in the coming years. To this end, I have developed a six-part tax reform plan that permanently extends pro-small business tax deductions (Section 199A), allows tax deferrals for start-up small businesses, eliminates the SALT cap, eliminates the marriage penalty, increases the Child Tax Credit and increases allowable expense deductions for teachers. These tax reform measures will promote small business growth and consumerism, while making Long Island more affordable.
Q: Since we’re facing a global pandemic, what will you do for healthcare?
A: Our frontline healthcare workers need immediate support and relief. And our citizens need improved and more affordable healthcare. To deliver on these necessities, I will work to advance a bipartisan bill that provides increased support to our frontline healthcare workers and to state and local governments to acquire necessary PPE. As the global pandemic continues, we must take preventative action to avoid major spikes that imperil the health of our vulnerable populations and overwhelm our hospitals. At the same time, I will introduce and support legislation that lowers health insurance premiums and lowers prescription drug costs. We need to end the current practice of insurance companies putting profits before the welfare of the people. In order to rebuild the American healthcare system, we must remove regulatory barriers and policies that hinder healthcare choice and competition. To this end, I will introduce and support legislation that (1) allows Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, (2) allows for the purchase of prescription drugs from other countries that offer lower prices, and (3) requires insurance companies to be transparent about their pricing. All of these measures will increase competition in our healthcare marketplace and deliver immediate cost-saving benefits to the American people.