EXCLUSIVE: Congressman-Elect Mike Lawler Speaks with Rockland Daily Following Surprise Victory
Rockland Daily Staff
Since throwing his hat in the ring in the race for Congress for New York’s 17th Congressional District, Congressman-elect Mike Lawler has been a frequent visitor to the communities of Monsey and its surrounding towns, all part of his new district. Throughout the summer and into the fall, Rockland Daily reporters spent a fair amount of time with Lawler, watching as his campaign gained momentum–culminating with his unlikely victory.
Congressman-elect Lawler sat down with Rockland Daily to reflect on his journey thus far and to look forward to serving the people of his district when he is sworn into the 117th congress this January.
RD: To what do you attribute your victory?
ML: In addition to redistricting, which gave us a fair set of maps to run with, we had been in a situation where the Democrats controlled everything in Washington, Albany, and New York City for the first time in our nation’s history. This created an opportunity for voters to restore balance and common sense to government. I think we had a very disciplined campaign and message, which was focused on issues that mattered to voters–including affordability, public safety, and education–and were able to build a strong coalition, which included a high level of support within the Orthodox Jewish community.
RD: Which important projects do you plan on tackling first?
ML: My focus will be on bringing down the cost of living and inflation, so we need to cut government spending and increase domestic energy production. This is going to be my primary focus when we get down to Washington.
RD: A large number of New Yorkers voted for Congressman Lee Zeldin, which would indicate that they want “bail reform” rolled back. What can be done to better protect New Yorkers from rising crime?
ML: New York State definitely needs to repeal cashless bail and take action to address rising crime. If they do not, then we, at the federal level, have an obligation to intervene and hold New York State accountable. Congresswoman Malliotakis (NY-11) has a bill that would allow crime victims to sue the State, and this is something I would support. We need to be serious about it and take action if Albany refuses to do so.
RD: Do you plan on maintaining the relationship you have built with the Orthodox community and keeping your finger on the pulse of our community’s needs and concerns?
ML: Similar to my time in the NYS assembly, a relationship means being present in the community, showing up to events, and hearing directly from the constituents about their concerns. In addition, having a staff that represents the district helps with constituent service work and being responsive to the needs of folks within the community.
RD: There have been a number of threats to shuls in the greater community, and one can see a lot of hate directed at our community on online forums in the Rockland County area. What steps do you plan to take to give our community a sense of security?
ML: We need to work with folks in the community to ensure that they can protect their shuls and their yeshivas and to make sure that law enforcement is working closely with the leadership of these institutions to make sure they have the resources that they need to properly project themselves, and this includes the presence of armed guards. From the standpoint of hate crimes, we need to be more vigilant in prosecuting them. 99% of anti-Semitic hate crimes are not prosecuted, and we need to get serious about enforcing the law.
RD: Please share any thoughts you have for our community.
ML: The support I have received from the Orthodox community has been heartwarming and much appreciated. There is a lot of work to be done on issues important to residents across my district, and I look forward to getting to work come January.
RD: Thank you very much for speaking with us today, congressman-elect. We look forward to speaking with you soon.