To the editor:
In the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Jamaal Bowman, who is running for Congress against Eliot Engel, the 30-year representative of the 16th district.
Jamaal has the support of the Justice Democrats, the progressive political action committee that helped bring the gifted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress. The Justice Democrats are “working to elect a mission-driven caucus in Congress that will fight for solutions that will match the scale of our many crises: skyrocketing inequality, catastrophic climate change, deepening structural racism as the country becomes more diverse, and the corporate takeover of our democracy.”
Jamaal is passionate in his focus on Bronx and Westchester communities, and on the needs of people over corporate donors. He is not accepting any corporate PAC or lobbyist funds, powering his campaign entirely through small-donor donations.
By contrast, only 0.46 percent of the total contributions to Mr. Engel in the last cycle came from small donors. He currently chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over arms exports. Yet he takes significant campaign contributions from the defense industry, including Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing and Honeywell.
Mr. Engel refuses to take the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. Mr. Bowman announced that he had taken the pledge at his launch event on June 18.
A veteran educator, Jamaal founded the public middle school in the Bronx that he is currently the principal of. He is fervent about his fight for educational opportunities for low-income students and families. He has led community organizing efforts against standardized testing, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the corporate-driven privatization and chronic underfunding of public schools.
I have driven with Jamaal in large swathes of the East Bronx and heard first-hand his outrage over sky-high childhood asthma rates, polluting industrial sites cheek-by-jowl with public housing, and the lack of green spaces and food justice.
Jamaal is an enthusiastic advocate of a strong Green New Deal. His opponent was silent on the Green New Deal for months in late 2018 and early 2019, finally agreeing to co-sponsor Green New Deal legislation after a coalition I helped organize demanded action from him.
Residents of the 16th will have the opportunity to vote in the congressional primary next June. Between now and then, a spirited campaign by Mr. Bowman will bring many previously quiescent voters a new season of political hope and activism.
Democracy will be invigorated in the 16th, which in turn will strengthen local opposition to Donald Trump.
I wish Jamaal Bowman every success in his efforts to bring long-needed change to our district, and to Washington, D.C., and will work hard on behalf of his candidacy.