George Latimer has made his positions clear. Democrats should back him

Gun Rights


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In a recent op-ed, a supporter of Rep. Jamaal Bowman argues that one reason he favors Bowman is because he does not understand George Latimer’s position on Israel. Perhaps, like the vast majority ofBowman’s financial backers, he does not live anywhere near this district, but for most of us who live here this has been the dominant issue covered in the press and both of their positions are crystal clear. Bowman supports an unconditional ceasefire that would allow Hamas to retain the hostages illegally taken on Oct. 7. Latimer believes hostage release is part and parcel of a ceasefire arrangement. Both men support increasing humanitarian aid to innocents affected by the conflict. Hamas’s attack and the ensuing war in Gaza are certainly important issues, and voters have heard extensively from both candidates about their positions. But these are not the only issues voters are concerned about, and it is precisely because of the breadth of Latimer’s work on a wide range of issues that he has built his strong lead over Bowman in the upcoming Democratic Primary.

On abortion rights, Latimer not only voted to codify Roe v. Wade at the state level, he also took executive action to protect clinics, their staff, and their patients from harassment and violence. On guns, Latimer passed a state level assault weapons ban and universal background checks, and as executive he stood up to the NRA by banning gun shows from the county center. He has invested hundreds of millions in our communities and infrastructure, from rebuilding Memorial Field to reopening the Sprain Ridge Pool and the New Rochelle Family Court, rebuilding our roads and bridges, thousands of new units of affordable housing and made the County Bus system free during the summers and holidays.

Latimer is also a leader in the Democratic Party, having worked to make the Westchester County Board of Legislators a Democratic stronghold, helped to flip the state senate, and defeated a having MAGA Republican to become county executive. He has been endorsed by 11 local Democratic committees, made up of grassroots activists. Bowman has not been endorsed by any.

In contrast, Bowman has come to be known more for his scandals and his repeated need to walk back his own words on things like Sept. 11 truther conspiracies, his embrace of known antisemites, and his denial of the horrific rapes that occurred on Oct. 7 At the same time, he has repeatedly voted against Democratic priorities like President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill, raising the debt ceiling (which would have caused our nation to go into financial default), and he even sided with far-right republicans to vote to shut down the government.

Opinion: Why is George Latimer so oddly silent about the Israel-Hamas conflict?

Let me be clear: I strongly support Latimer in this primary. He has an exemplary record of public policy and results, with votes and actions that reflect his values and his substantive commitment to the needs of people in this district which comprises both urban and suburban populations. Residents know his track record, and it is why he has been elected and re-elected over and over.

The war in Gaza is horrific. There has been great suffering on both sides and everyone wants to see an end to violence. Our longstanding relation with Israel and how we can support the creation of a peaceful Middle East is an important issue that should be discussed. But to assume that this is the sole issue upon which voters will decide who represents them in Congress is ludicrously dismissive of the people of the Bronx and Westchester. I am confident we will send a reasonable, able person to Washington, who will draw their judgments carefully and judiciously.

Betty Cotton is a resident of New York’s 16th Congressional Distirict.

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