Perry Gershon, who is running as a Democrat for the 1st Congressional District seat against Republican incumbent Lee Zeldin, explained his campaign platform to those in attendance. As a business owner – having owned and operated a sports bar and a commercial real estate lending firm – he said he never thought about running for office, but when Donald Trump was elected president and saw the policies Trump was implementing, he decided to run because Long Islanders needed someone to stand up for American ideals and against Trump.
His No. 1 issue is healthcare. If elected, he said he will work to maintain coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, as mandated by the Affordable Healthcare Act. Under Trump’s healthcare program, Mr. Gershon said, those people with pre-existing conditions lost coverage. He also wants to see a reduction in prescription drug costs and provide Medicare for everyone through a single-payer system. He said large high-tax states such as New York and California would be able to pay for such a system and many people want to see single-payer in place, but Congress refuses to bring it to the floor.
In his support of a single-payer system, Mr. Gershon said administering care through Medicare would cost 17 times less than through a private, for-profit healthcare system. In addition, patients can see doctors sooner and not to have to visit the emergency room, which can be very expensive. If fewer people go to the emergency room, he said, the government would spend less money on healthcare.
He believes that healthcare is not a privilege, but a right. He said everyone needs healthcare coverage and any service, such as healthcare, that benefits the people should not be provided in order to incur a profit.
If elected, Mr. Gershon said, he would call for mandatory background checks prior to purchasing a gun and close loopholes that make it easier to people to obtain guns illegally. He said, since the Marjorie Stoneman High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, the cries for gun safety and gun control have become louder, but Congress refuses to do anything about it because they are too attached to the gun lobby.
In fixing Long Island’s economy, Mr. Gershon said that, if you want to grow workers’ wages, you need to fix the infrastructure. That includes fixing the highways, improving the public transportation system and upgrading cell phone transmissions that will improve business communications. He said this has already been done in California and Boston, Massachusetts, with successful results. If the Democrats take both chambers of Congress, he said, they will force Trump to uphold his campaign promise to fix the nation’s infrastructure.
On the issue of immigration, Mr. Gershon said that DREAMers must be granted citizenship since they came into this country as children, through no fault of their own. He does not want to see children separated from their families and wants border enforcement done by adding more patrol officers instead of building walls. He does not believe in open borders and says ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) plays a major role in immigration enforcement, but does not want the officers terrorizing immigrants and their families. For those who are undocumented, Mr. Gershon said they should pay taxes but should not receive instant citizenship. He wants to see comprehensive immigration reform like the “Gang of Eight” bill that was introduced by the late U.S. Senator John McCain in 2004, only to be killed by Congress.
Lastly, he said that, as Congressman, he will make himself accessible to his constituents by holding weekly face-to-face “town hall” meetings, not from remote locations, and he will reach out to the other side of the aisle to get things done in Washington. He said it can be done, like during the 1980s, when a Republican president (Ronald Reagan) and a Democratic House Speaker (Tip O’Neill) were able to compromise on certain issues so they could get more accomplished.
Mr. Gershon said it is time for change in the Democratic Party. He said those currently in Democratic leadership are too old and called for the removal of Nancy Pelosi as House speaker. He said his party should make room for a new group of people, who will bring with them new ideas on how government should work.