Jonathan Lewis to Challenge Incumbent Democrat Eliot Engel in Democratic Primaries

Jonathan Lewis faces an uphill battle in unseating 15 term incumbent Congressman Engel. /

Since 1989, Democrat Congressman Eliot Engel has served in the House of Representatives for three different districts. Most recently, Engel has represented the 16th District of New York, which includes the southern half of Westchester, since 2013. As the ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a 15-term incumbent, Engel is not one who will be easy to unseat on Election Day. Yet that is precisely what Eastchester native, Jonathan Lewis, intends to do.

With a master’s degree from Columbia, Lewis describes himself primarily a businessman though he does have experience in the public sector, specifically in the fields of education and foreign affairs. Lewis believes that his experience as a trustee of the Yonkers Partners in Education, former trustee of the Scarsdale Board of Education, a member of the Business Executives for National Security, author of two books on foreign policy, and a 2004 recipient of the CIA Agency Seal Medal, qualify him to represent New York’s 16th District.

“I have a different vision for what it is to be a Congressman,” said Lewis who believes “our democracy is breaking.”

Lewis was especially critical of his opponent, saying that Engel “essentially represents the breakdown in Congress—Eliot Engel represents the ‘same old same old.’”

As for his views on higher education, Lewis called the rising costs of college “a crime,” and said that there was “a myriad of approaches” that could be taken to solve them.

He said that to tackle education would involve working with the Federal Department of Education. He called the inequity in our country, especially in the 16th District, the biggest issue facing America currently.

Lewis said that the inequity that Westchester is facing represents “why our democracy is breaking” and that “if we don’t solve that, we’re not going to have a democracy.”

Lewis believes that the solution lies in investing in small businesses and helping students who are coming out of college start up their own businesses, which he said would also help solve the costs of colleges. His plan involves giving grants to students coming out of college, and then forgiving student loans based off how many jobs they create. Lewis believes that funding this is possible because “the money’s already there, it’s just a question of national priority.”

The Congressional hopeful also outlined his plans for gun control, criticizing the current setup which keeps the standards for school safety at a local level. He said this means “kids in rich school districts are gonna be safer than kids in poor districts.”

Lewis’ plan would be to establish a national standard for school safety and to implement “the toughest gun control laws imaginable.” As for immigration, Lewis said “we need to be a nation of open arms, we need to be a sanctuary nation.”

Based off of these views, if elected, he will likely face deep opposition from the Republicans in Congress. When asked how he would handle that, Lewis said “I’m a collaborator by nature.”

Lewis said that, though he has his values and viewpoints, he would want to work with the Republicans, rather than against, and that “you can’t collaborate with people when you speak to them through the prism of ideology and otherness.”

Lewis says that as a congressman, his number one priority would be to his constituents, and to show this, he has opened his campaign headquarters in Eastchester. Still, he will be facing an uphill battle as unseating an incumbent is never easy.

The Democratic primaries will be held June 26.

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