On Oct. 11, Joe Pinion, Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, who is vying to unseat longtime incumbent Chuck Schumer this November held a press conference at the home of Emma Liu, founder of the CivilizASIAN Foundation, where he blasted Schumer’s record and layed out what he believes are the most important issues facing New Yorkers today.
“If you are unaware of the fact that I am running for U.S. Senate against Chuck Schumer it’s because my name rarely comes out of his mouth because they don’t want people to even recognize that there is an election in 28 days,” Pinion told reporters.
Pinion asked that news networks fulfill their “civic responsibility” and hold a debate to help New Yorkers decide on who they want to elect on Nov. 8.
“We are hopeful that there will be a network that will step up to meet their civic responsibility to demand that Chuck Schumer meet his responsibility to respect the voters of this state and have a robust and meaningful debate on the issues that are impacting our families and our communities,” Pinion said.
Top of mind for Pinion is the skyrocketing crime rates across New York State referring to the surge in crime as “astronomical.”
“We have seen communities devastated, starting with the three most dangerous words ever uttered in modern politics, ‘defund the police,’” he said, adding that, “We’ve seen an Asian community who has had to live in a cocoon of fear because of people like Chuck Schumer turning a blind eye to the undeniable crisis that we see all around us.”
Pinion, provided as examples, the rash of subway pushings that are plaguing the New York City subway system and the recent murder of a 61-year-old EMS worker who was stabbed 21 times in the chest. “Could be my mother, could be your mother, could be anyone’s grandparents. And so we must now deal with the undeniable reality that New Yorkers are not safe and that we have a responsibility to do something,” he argued.
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Reading a constitutional right
Pinion believes that reading should be a constitutional right and that eliminating a merit based system of education does nothing to prop up marginalized communities.
He argues that if some students are “penalized for their success” that it will not “make the outcomes for black and brown children in this city better.”
“That’s why we’re committing to ensuring that we have reading as a constitutional right in this country. For every single child that calls this nation home,” he said.
He blasted the current New York State education system as “effectively legalizing … diploma mills” that provide children with “pieces of paper that are worthless.”
He said that 60 percent of New York State children that attend public schools do not read at a grade level and that an astounding 70 percent of black students recently failed the state math exam. “That is not a recipe for success for our future,” he said.
While final results for state wide exams have not yet been released, Pinion says he suspects they will reveal that “the kids are not okay.” He said that “the education they are receiving does not provide them with the tools they need to become the best version of themselves.”
As such he is proposing the largest investment in school based infrastructure in the history of the nation saying that the age of the average school building in the state is 75-years.
“There are buildings that were built in the 19th century that are vastly insufficient to deal with the 21st century threats that are facing our children,” he said, adding that no matter the challenge, whether it’s improving reading rates or preventing another Uvalde massacre it starts with a “vigorous, robust investment in our public school system to ensure we actually have buildings that are commensurate with the expectations we have for all of our children.”
He argued that this is a federal government responsibility and that Chuck Schumer, who has been in government for 42-years, “failed to deliver results.”
Freedom and security for women
At the press conference, Pinion presented some startling statistics. “We have seen shootings that have gone up 90 percent. We have seen homicide that has gone up 30 percent. We have seen sexual assault up over 300 percent in New York City over the last 18 months,” he said adding that it sounds like the “actual freedom and security of women all across this city are in peril.”
Pinion said these are the issues that should be discussed but instead the conversation is dominated by discussion around “wedge issues that keep voters and keep communities in a cocoon of fear.”
Pinion argues that a major factor that has not been addressed, which is driving these statistics, is a mental health crisis that is gripping the nation that he says has “gone completely unchecked.”
“One of the most effective vehicles to deal with mental health starts with giving people access to the preventative care that they need. We need to stop dealing with the problem after it presents itself. We need to deal with the symptoms of the problem before it becomes a crisis,” he argued.
As part of a solution to the crisis, Pinion says, if elected, he would work towards implementing the “largest expansion” in federally qualified health centers that could reduce “healthcare disparities we see in communities with the highest need and specifically in the communities where we know that we have a disproportionate amount of the mental health issues.”
He says that federally qualified health centers need to be empowered and that every dollar spent on these centers leads to $11 in economic productivity. Productivity that he argues is good for communities, but more importantly, allows for more people to access the services that they need.
The southern border and fentanyl crisis
Concerning the southern border crisis, which Pinion ties closely with the fentanyl crisis, Pinion acknowledged that illegal migrants “are in desperate straits, that’s why they choose to try to cross the Rio Grande to come to this country.”
He said that migrants are being economically coerced to enter the United States illegally. “Economic coercion is when you have people in places of power telling other people that they should, and can, risk their life to come here, through illegal measures and that everything will be okay once they get here and we know that’s not the case,” he said, adding that, “For the people that are already here we now have a fentanyl crisis. Where the leading cause of death for people aged 18 to 45 in this nation are fentanyl overdoses.”
He said that the nation is grappling with “counterfeit prescription drugs” that have been laced with fentanyl to give the illusion that they are actually prescription grade drugs and that due to this deception, people are losing their lives.
“And no one is doing anything about it,” he said, adding that,”Because to acknowledge the fentanyl crisis would be an acknowledgement of the border crisis.”
He said that individuals attempting to come to the United States “deserve respect … they deserve dignity,” but that the U.S. still has to have laws that make sense.
“There are 4-million people waiting to come to this country legally, some for decades. We haven’t processed the paperwork. There are people who have been waiting for their spouse to join them for 10 and 15 years. People who have been waiting for children to join their families for 10 and 15 years,” he said.
Instead of prioritizing them he says the federal government would rather hire 87,000 new IRS agents to “knock on the doors of hard working Americans to take what little they have in the midst of record inflation; In the midst of the recession they want to pretend is not already here.”
Pinion said he started his campaign on Martin Luther King Day with “an intent and a real purpose.”
“This crazy notion that maybe we could finish that unfinished dream, the unfinished work of Dr. King, the last endeavor on this earth, a poor people’s campaign. Which had nothing to do with the color of your skin and everything to do with the dignity that was promised for all the people,” Pinion said
Elections to the U.S. Senate will be held on November 8, this year with 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested in regular elections.
If successful, Pinion will serve a six-year term beginning on January 3, 2023.