The newly redrawn 16th Congressional District now covers the entire City of Yonkers and Town of Greenburgh, instead of just parts of those places, as well as Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Scarsdale, and loses Rockland County. These places in Westchester are diverse communities that need a strong voice in Washington.
Incumbent Democrat Eliot Engel of the Bronx was first elected in 1988 and is seeking his 13th term. If re-elected, Engel, 65, promises to focus on education, infrastructure, immigration reform and tax cuts for the middle class while increasing rates for higher earners.
Engel says he'd let the Bush tax cuts expire and thinks a $250,000 threshold for an increase on top earners is too low; he'd be OK with a higher figure of $500,000 or $1 million, which is a more realistic threshold for some in this newly configured suburban district.
Engel understands that stimulating the economy and reducing the deficit require a balanced approach of spending cuts and increasing revenues through some sort of tax increase.
He says this country needs to "broaden its horizons" on energy and maintains that he has an open mind on the Keystone Pipeline, but as a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Engel must be a driver on issues that would help make this country energy independent. That means he would have to drop his usually cautious "let's wait to see how the wind is blowing" approach.
Engel's opponent is Republican Joe McLaughlin of Hastings-on-Hudson. The two agree on the need to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge and for immigration reform, notably the Dream Act and creating a path to citizenship. But that's about all: McLaughlin supports extending the Bush-era tax cuts and implementing a staggered flat tax of 10 percent, 15 percent and 20 percent on income. McLaughlin wants to eliminate all tax deductions except for a 10 percent allowance for education, health care and charity. He also says capital investments should be 100 percent tax free.
McLaughlin, 44, wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and likes the idea of providing block grants to states for Medicare, which would mean drastic cuts in New York's program.
Engel's views are more in line with his district's, and his boots-on-the-ground understanding of constituent services ought to serve his members well, many of whom are new to this redrawn district.
Newsday endorses Engel.