NEW YORK — With two weeks to go until New York voters head to the polls, Democrats Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Suraj Patel squared off during a PIX11 News debate to talk crime, abortion, the economy and more.
They’re running to represent New York’s 12th Congressional District. The primary election will take place on Aug. 23.
This year’s race has been especially contentious because of recent redistricting pitting Maloney and Nadler, both longtime members of the House, against each other. Patel has unsuccessfully run against Maloney more than once. He’s calling for a new voice in the House.
Maloney, 76, currently represents the Upper East Side along with parts of Brooklyn and Queens. She chairs the House Oversight Committee.
Nadler, 75, currently represents the Upper West Side along with parts of lower Manhattan and sections of Brooklyn. He chairs the House Judiciary committee.
Patel, 38, is an attorney and businessman who worked for former President Barack Obama. He narrowly lost to Maloney two years ago by about 3,000 votes.
You can rewatch the full debate in the video player below.
Here are five takeaways from PIX11’s NY-12 Debate:
1 – Two of the candidates, Maloney and Nadler, have something in common: decades in Congress. Patel has said it’s time for someone new.
“Generational change is nothing to be feared,” he said.
Maloney stressed her experience means she knows how to “fight and win during this perilous time.”
“This is not a time for rookies,” she said.
Nadler agreed that new leadership is needed, but explained that seniority in Congress brings the clout needed to get bills passed.
“Losing one committee chairman would be unfortunate for New York,” Nadler said. “Losing two committee chairmen would be catastrophic for New York.”
Patel said 1990s Democrats are following a decades-old rulebook when what’s needed is “taking the chess board and throwing it across the room.”
2 – A future Supreme Court would be bigger under the vision of all three candidates; they each support adding justices. None of the candidates plan to work toward impeachment for current justices, with Nadler and Patel noting there isn’t evidence to support it and Maloney saying she wants to put her energy into something she can accomplish.
Nadler wants four more justices to “counter pack” the court. Patel thinks there should be at least 13 Supreme Court justices to match increases in population. He also suggested term limits of 15 years. Maloney did not share details on her opinion beyond her support of a larger Supreme Court.
3 – All three candidates want additional federal funds to go toward the NYPD. Nadler, when asked about statements he made in 2020 calling for budget cuts to the police, denied saying he supported the “defund police” movement. He said that at the time, he was suggesting resources should be shifted to mental health and social services.
Patel supports the Victims Act, introduced by Florida Rep. Val Demings. Patel said it would give police departments funding to hire more detectives.
“We need to reorient our policing to more violent crime and actually solve those crimes,” he said.
Maloney focused on two areas to combat crime: funding for mental health and passing gun safety laws.
“I’ve proposed gun safety laws that don’t conflict with the Second Amendment so you can get it through the Senate,” she said.
Maloney said when Congress tries to ban guns, the NRA goes and riles people up. She’s focused on liability insurance for owning guns, taxing AR-15s, and requiring gun manufacturers to keep more records.
Patel called for an assault weapon ban.
“We need to work with companies that manufacture guns and hold them liable and make them traceable,” he said.
Nadler feels there are two areas that need to be dealt with to combat crime: cops need to be trusted and people need to get guns off the streets.
“State laws can’t do that because you can buy a gun in one state and bring it to another and that’s why we need strong gun control [laws],” Nadler said.
4 – There’s no question that New Yorkers’ wallets are hurting with inflation an ongoing issue. While all three candidates support the Inflation Reduction Act, they each have different ideas for how to help people trying to stretch their money.
Nadler wants to jack up taxes on the very rich. He also wants to increase anti-trust enforcement.
“Companies now gouge their customers because they can, because we aren’t enforcing the anti-trust laws properly,” he said.
Maloney supports the Credit Card Reform Act. She said it would keep money in consumer pockets instead of going toward “unfair, unnecessary, deceptive fees from banks.”
Patel, who has experience in the business world, has focused on commodities to help with inflation. He’s encouraged Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to boost commodity production by issuing forward contracts.
5 – Patel, Nadler and Maloney all support congestion pricing, which would toll drivers south of 60th Street as they head into Manhattan. They don’t want any delays in its implementation, but they do feel there should be exemptions for people who live in the neighborhoods impacted, which includes the 12th Congressional District.
They stressed congestion pricing would help the environment.
“It’s right for New York and it’s right for pedestrians in our city,” Patel said.