PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Four candidates introduced themselves to a room full of Democratic voters Thursday evening with the same goal: defeating Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth in 2012.
Mayor Tom Wilson of Tuxedo Park, Cortlandt Council member Richard Becker, Wappingers Falls Mayor Matt Alexander and Times Square Hero and Buchanan resident Duane Jackson explained to voters why they were the right man to represent New York State’s 19th Congressional District.
Alexander currently serves as Mayor of Wappingers Falls in Dutchess County. A trained certified public accountant, he earned the endorsements of both the Democratic and Republican parties in his bids for reelection as mayor.
He talked about an infrastructure investment plan in his town that includes a new water treatment facility that he said gave residents water and would save residents $30 million dollars over the next 30 years.
"It produced jobs immediately and the basis for future investments for companies outside our community to come in and invest in our community,” Alexander said, adding that he wanted to help the 19th district grow like Wappingers Falls has in the last few years.
"We grew 17 percent during one of the worst recessions since the great depression,"Alexander said.
Dr. Richard Becker has been a town council member in Cortlandt since 2007. A practicing cardiologist, he worked at Hudson Valley Hospital Center as chief of medicine, president of medical staff and chairperson of the medical board.
In 2005 Becker founded Hospital Medicine Associates, a private practice that provides inpatient care for hospitalized persons and handles admissions and consultative services for Hudson Valley Hospital. Becker sold the practice but continues to treat patients in the area as a cardiologist. He said his experience as a doctor and businessman makes him a good candidate for Congress.
"I know what it's like to take out loans, I know what it's like to hit a payroll every two weeks and I certainly know what it's like to pay for health care $1,500 a month for 15 doctors and adding in the staff."
Becker also came up with the idea of the Cortlandt Home Oil Program, which is an oil coop that allows residents to buy oil at a group discount rate.
Becker said he was inspired to run by Hayworth's actions in Congress and said she voted to overturn the new health care legislation and get rid of Medicare by replacing it with a voucher program.
"She lost that vote and then came back to the district and sent out a letter saying said 'I saved Medicare'", Becker said.
Tuxedo Park Mayor Tom Wilson said he was a firm believer in core Democratic values such as reproductive rights, environmental conservation and caring for the disadvantaged.
Wilson said he got involved in politics when he became concerned with an irresponsible real estate development plan and formed the Tuxedo Land Trust to help prevent irresponsible development.
"I personally fought and continue to fight a $15 billion real estate company that is trying to build 2,000 homes on 2,300 acres that threatens not only our rivers but our storm waters, traffic, schools and Revolutionary War (era) roads," Wilson said.
Wilson said he was in favor of tax cuts for the middle class and said there should be more incentives to encourage performance in the public sector.
"We should pay for results, not services," Wilson said.
The fourth and most recently announced candidate is Duane Jackson of Buchanan, the owner of Duane's of Times Square since 1989.
Jackson said he wanted to fight what he called an “infestation” led by Hayworth.
"They want to turn back the times – they cut the unions, they cut the teachers, they blame the woes on the educational system," Jackson said.
Prior to establishing his own business, Jackson worked with the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, the New York City Board of Education and the engineering firm of Ewell Finley, PC, Inc.
He made national headlines in May 2010 when he alerted authorities to an SUV filled with explosives in Times Square, which received an honor from President Barack Obama.
A Naval veteran of the Vietnam era, Jackson is a longtime advocate of veterans rights.
Jackson said he wanted to focus on energizing voters in the district and bringing out all the voters who helped get former Democratic Rep. John Hall, who was ousted by Hayworth in the 2010 race, elected in order to take the fight to the Republicans.
"They don't have our interest at heart," Jackson said. "They don't even understand our interests".