Rice vows to prioritize finances of local governments ahead of November election

Robert Pelaez
U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said she is appreciative of every vote that is cast for her. (Photo courtesy of the congresswoman)

U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said she never takes one vote for granted and will continue to represent all of her constituents in the 4th Congressional District if she is re-elected in November.

The district comprises central and southern Nassau County, including Floral Park, Garden City, Hempstead, Mineola, Carle Place, New Hyde Park and Westbury.

Rice is running against the Town of Hempstead’s commissioner of engineering, Doug Tuman. If she is elected, this will be her fourth term in office after previously serving as Nassau County district attorney.

In an interview with Blank Slate Media, Rice emphasized the importance of every vote, especially in an election made even more strenuous than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I never take one vote for granted,” Rice said. “I have a good relationship with other representatives on Long Island. People can know that they will always get the truth from me.”

On the national level, Rice assailed the way President Donald Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic. She praised  Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling and transparency regarding the virus and said New Yorkers were lucky to have someone like that in charge during the pandemic. 

“The way the president has handled this pandemic has been a complete failure,” she said. “We needed a national plan from the beginning and here we are now with a majority of the world’s cases.”

Rice, along with neighboring U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), has been a vocal advocate for increased federal funds to local governments and municipalities because of the pandemic. As the deadline looms for the federal government to pass a second stimulus act that prioritizes nationwide needs such as local governments, schools, and small businesses, Rice said something is better than nothing at this point.

“What we need this money for is enhancing unemployment insurance for people whose jobs will never come back, extending the paycheck protection program for businesses with a bleak future and money for state and local municipalities,” Rice said. “This isn’t propaganda for blue state spending, this is recouping lost revenue.”

Rice added that the focus on rebuilding after the coronavirus does not mean that she has lost sight of the issues facing her district before the pandemic.

“That includes the need for immigration reform and gun control legislation, action to combat climate change, and of course, repealing the harmful cap on [state and local tax] deductions,” she said, referring to a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes when calculating federal income taxes.

Rice said that the Black Lives Matter movement, protests and the discussion of police reform was “a long time coming.” She said she believes the issue of police reform can vary in each municipality, but lauded the Nassau County Police Department for committed efforts to represent what law enforcement should do for the community it serves.

“What happened to George Floyd was really the straw that broke the camel’s back in this situation,” Rice said. “I’m not for defunding the police, but maybe that money could be used differently, such as hiring social workers or putting together a group of community leaders and begin to have conversations on how we decide what type of policing we want in our area.”

Rice said she will support former Vice President Joe Biden in November and suggested his first move as president be to rejoin the Paris Agreement and continue the fight against climate change worldwide. Rice praised state officials for putting New York on a greener path by launching environmentally progressive initiatives for local municipalities to participate in.

Rice said she loves the constructive criticism she receives, even when she is unsure where it stems from at times.  Tuman has been vocal on social media and in campaign literature saying that constituents of the district believe she is “an absentee Congressperson.” Rice said she found the criticism “interesting.”

“As a Congresswoman, I’m required to be in Washington half the year,” Rice said. “I don’t know where that comes from. I’m around and I have been incredibly responsive to people here.”

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