Recap: Congressional District 17 Candidate Forum on Sustainability 

May 28, 2020

On April 23rd, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for Congressional District 17 in the lower Hudson Valley, whose longtime representative and environmental champion, Nita Lowey is retiring. The forum took place before New York’s primary election on June 23rd. NYLCVEF holds candidate forums to provide voters with the opportunity to hear directly from candidates about their stance on important sustainability issues. Our D17 forum focused on issues in Westchester and Rockland County and featured the following candidates: Assemblyman David Buchwald, State Senator David Carlucci, Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, Evelyn Farkas, Alison Fine, Mondaire Jones, County Legislator Catherine Parker, and Adam Schleifer. 

 

David Buchwald is a NY State Assemblyman for Assembly District 93. During the forum, he emphasized his interest in setting a national fuel efficiency standard that would be similar to California’s. Buchwald is a supporter of community choice aggregation and would like to see it adopted nationwide. He raised concerns about the gas pipeline running through the grounds of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, and supports the decommissioning of the facility. With regard to the health of the Hudson River, Buchwald shared his years of advocacy to prevent oil barges from populating the river.

David Carlucci is a NY State Senator representing Senate District 38. During the forum, he raised concerns about the diversion of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and supported incentives for businesses to invest in renewable energy. Carlucci would like to see a nationwide residential renewable energy tax credit to ensure that homeowners can switch to geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources. He expressed disappointment with how the EPA has handled the cleanup of PCBs in the Hudson River, noting its status as the largest Superfund site in the nation. Carlucci has been working with Riverkeeper to continually test the river’s water quality with the intent to open a beach in Ossining on the river’s shore.

Asha Castleberry-Hernandez is a national security expert, combat veteran, and professor. During the forum, she highlighted that the LWCF should be fully funded, as it improves quality of living, especially for vulnerable communities. She is concerned about water quality degradation and would like to see improved EPA water quality standards. She supports the shutdown of Indian Point, noting that it is a national security threat in addition to an environmental one. 

Evelyn Farkas is an American national security advisor who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia from 2012-2015. During the forum, she called for removing subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and instead incentivizing clean energy. She also expressed support for offshore wind and wants to see our nation move to an energy grid that allows for the electrification of vehicles. Farkas said she believes that climate change is a health, labor, environmental, and national security issue. Additionally, she does not support biofuels and believes that Congress needs to do more to hold the EPA accountable.

Alison Fine is a former faculty member of the Union of Reform Judaism, current member of the UJA-Westchester Regional Advisory Council, and founder of Innovation Network, Inc. During the forum, she voiced support for the LWCF because enjoying parks is a fundamental part of American life. Fine would like to see the EPA pivot to become a Department of Ecological Stewardship that focuses on the next generation of green technology, potentially boosting entrepreneurship throughout the economy. Fine supports closing Indian Point, and would like to see leadership in Congress that listens and asks for input from the public, especially post-pandemic. 

Mondaire Jones is an attorney, nonprofit leader, and activist. During the forum, he spoke in support of the Green New Deal and a federal mandate to decarbonize our economy, as he believes a carbon tax is too modest and regressive. Additionally, he said that the Green New Deal will help create jobs post-pandemic. Jones could not stay for the entirety of the forum, but stated that he’d like to see more investment in transportation infrastructure and a transition to renewable resources.

Catherine Parker serves on Westchester County’s Board of Legislators as representative for the 7th district. During the forum, she called for eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and incentivizing renewable energy. She also highlighted the need to prioritize renewable energy in public housing developments. Parker described the link between the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice, and how the effects of climate change—similar to that of the pandemic—disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities. To that point, she spoke of her work to eliminate #4 and #6 heating oils during her first term on the Board of Legislators. Additionally, Parker would like to see fracking banned nationwide. 

Adam Schleifer is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and NYS consumer-protection regulator. During the forum, he shared his support for a carbon tax that would help fund the LWCF. He also supports renewable energy and efforts to incentivize the private sector to develop new technologies. Schleifer believes that science should drive policies. He shared he is open to biofuels as an alternative to jet fuel, would like to see a national infrastructure plan to drive jobs and education nationwide, and supports the shutdown of Indian Point.

Special thanks to our moderator, Danielle Muoio from NY Politico and to our nonprofit partners, Hudson Riverkeeper, Croton100, Scenic Hudson, and The Climate Reality Project for their help in making this event a success. Don’t forget to vote on June 23rd! Find your polling place here

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