Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) sees her run for Congress as a natural extension of her work on the City Council.
“You can accomplish the same things on a larger scale,” she said in a recent interview with the Chronicle’s editorial board. “You deal with education, Social Security, jobs, infrastructure.”
The two-term councilwoman is seeking the Democratic nomination for the new 6th Congressional District. She is vying with Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Dr. Robert Mittman, a physician from Bayside, for the district partially carved out of that now held by the retiring Gary Ackerman. The primary is on June 26.
Crowley says her own life experiences have shaped her candidacy. She opposes recent Republican efforts to change the structure of Social Security, recalling how her own mother relied on it with 15 children and having lost her husband when the future councilwoman was 7.
“And as a mother with two sons in high school, I’m worried about how to pay for college,” she said.
Given her choice of committee assignments, Crowley does not hesitate for an instant.
“Transportation and Homeland Security,” she said emphatically.
On transportation, she said she is tired of projects such as the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access project and the 7 subway line extension, “projects that pass through here that we don’t benefit from.”
Crowley said the 7 could be extended in other directions, such as to connect LaGuardia Airport and the future development at Willets Point to Manhattan.
She said Homeland Security, too, would be an expansion of her work as chairwoman of the council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, particularly in dealing with terrorism.
“New York is still a large target,” she said, adding that she would have opposed a vote in Congress two weeks ago that, while not naming the NYPD, could have defunded it of tens of millions of dollars in terrorism and intelligence support had the bill passed.
In addressing the nation’s $16 trillion deficit, Crowley could not identify any non-military programs that she would eliminate from the budget.
“I would cut parts of programs,” she said. “I’m sure there is waste and fraud.”
And she said the country could pay for a number of the things she would like to see by pulling out of Afghanistan at a faster pace than even President Obama has deemed responsible.
“You’re spending $500 billion over there training police officers and building schools,” she said. “New York City has 7,000 fewer police officers than when Mayor Bloomberg took office. We need to be spending that money here.”
She did not directly acknowledge that saving the money by pulling out Afghanistan, where the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to hatch its 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, could once again leave a dangerous vacuum where terrorists could plot more attacks on the United States.“I don’t know where it ends over there,” she said.
When asked repeatedly she did say there were circumstances under which the United States would be justified in a direct military attack on Iran’s nuclear arms program.
On the economic crisis in Europe, the councilwoman said Germany, as the strongest economic power on the continent, must shoulder an even larger burden than it does now to prop up countries such as Greece and France.
While demographics in the Unites States have changed dramatically since Social Security’s inception in 1935, Crowley said that there is no need to restructure the program, even with President Obama’s own experts saying the fund is unsustainable at its current ratio of workers to benefit recipients.
“I think when more people get back to work and begin paying into the system again that will fix itself,” she said.
Crowley said jobs and education in New York could largely be tied together if the funding and political will are available in Washington to make the city a center of high tech education, training and development.