The Republican candidates in the 15th Senate District traded charges over the minimum wage and voting records this week.
Juan Reyes, in a statement issued on Tuesday, castigated Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) for a statement Ulrich made recently in support of increasing the state’s minimum wage.
The Ulrich camp returned fire, pointing to several elections in which Reyes did not cast a vote, something Reyes has called isolated incidents based on the state’s arcane absentee ballot regulations.
Reyes, an attorney from Forest Hills, seized on a recent statement in which Ulrich said the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is inadequate for families in Queens who are hurting.
“Liberal Albany Democrats and Eric Ulrich are going to increase unemployment and hurt the neediest workers in our state with their plans to increase the minimum wage,” Reyes said in a press release issued by his campaign.
He cited an Employment Policies Institute report issued this week that says a minimum wage increase to as high as $9.80 an hour would cost New York State more than 43,000 jobs.
“Legislating a wage increase in a recession would force many small business owners to either cut jobs or close their doors,” Reyes said. “That would help no one.”
He advocated for more education and trade and apprenticeship programs to increase worker skill.
Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for the Ulrich campaign, said the councilman’s numbers tell a different story.
“Economists have said that a higher minimum wage would actually generate increased economic activity and lead to a higher quality of life, which is a goal we all should be striving toward,” Proud said. “Hardworking and overtaxed New Yorkers simply cannot afford to make ends meet in even the most modest of circumstances under the current minimum wage.”
She said Ulrich is focused on creating good paying jobs and reducing taxes for families and small businesses.
In a separate statement, Proud assailed Reyes for missing some city, state and even presidential elections.
“How can anyone who doesn’t vote run for public office?” she asked. “What’s even more perplexing is that he didn’t even vote for his former boss Rudy Giuliani in 1997. It takes a lot of chutzpah to ask people to support you when you don’t fulfill your basic civic duty.”
Reyes in a telephone interview confirmed previous statements from his campaign that those were isolated incidents when he was spending Election Day working on ballot security for the Republican Party, for which the rules do not allow him to vote by absentee ballot.
“I’ve been voting for Republican candidates since Mr. Ulrich was one year old,” he said.