Looking closer at the candidates


To the editor:

(re: “’Unknown’ challenger attacks Engel in bid for seat,” May 24)

Mr. Zak Kostro and The Riverdale Press are to be commended for bringing to the community’s attention the rarest of sightings — a potentially meaningful primary for the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat on June 26.

Regrettably, despite noting its importance as a media source, The Riverdale Press falls short of its obligation to provide some level of analysis, even in a news piece.

Rather than playing to the candidates’ need to draw attention to a campaign by so-called mud-slinging, the community is owed a fair review of its options. 

In this time of political disquiet, Eliot Engel’s attack on Jonathan Lewis for putting up his own money to support his candidacy is no less a campaign tactic than any of Mr. Lewis’ critiques of Mr. Engel. 

Instead, the voters’ interest is better served by a competitive political dialogue on substantive policy issues.

In this respect, The Riverdale Press has an unusual opportunity to assist our community in the best tradition of an inquiring press in service to the public interest. On the one hand, we have a political newcomer who, by refusing PAC money, is running largely on a platform of campaign finance reform, and otherwise shaking up a stale political status quo.

Clearly, we have much to learn about this candidate on many issues, but so far, not a bad start.

On the other hand, we have an incumbent who, after 30 years in office, wishes to run on his record, but expresses that record in the most general of terms. Mr. Engel must be invited to refer us to his long record of specific legislative achievements and actual delivery of policy initiatives for his district.

Here is an opportunity for him to demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, those leadership qualities that have defined his 30-year legacy. We should expect more than a meaningless proposed Constitutional amendment and a well-run case office on Johnson Avenue referred to by Mr. Kostro.

We need to avoid any presumption that mere incumbency — however long — should earn our officials re-election. Riverdale Press, let the debate on the merits begin!

Peter Joseph

Peter Joseph