After winning a primary challenge in June, veteran Rep. Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from Southwest Queens who represents the 5th Congressional District, including Elmont, Inwood and north and south Valley Stream, is running unopposed for his 12th two-year term.
Meeks, 67, serves on the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. With Eliot Engel losing his June primary, Meeks is seeking the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs committee. Pointing to his long-term membership on the committee Meeks said: “I can provide leadership that helps diplomacy. We can make a significant difference in our world.”
He highlighted that the committee touches on many issues from climate change to trade and the idea of a two-state solution in the Middle East, and with his district being one of the most diverse foreign affairs has a huge impact on his constituency. “You look at our relationships with other countries and you want to make sure there is human dignity for all and you are doing it with a tremendously strong voice in that regards,” Meeks said.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the country’s economy, especially for small local businesses, Meeks said he is advocating for small business owners. “I think we have to make sure that small businesses are supported,” he said. “We could take the Paycheck Protection Program money convert some of the money as loans to grants to help small business come back and they are not wiped out. There could be tax exemptions. We want to make sure we sustain the businesses as more people are employed by small businesses.” As of September, 58.9 million people – 47.5 percent of the American workforce – are employed by small businesses, according to Fundera, a business funding company.
Seeing the social upheaval that has occurred in the country since the killing of George Floyd, Meeks said he supports the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that was approved by the House of Representatives but is yet to be approved by the Senate. The legislation creates new requirements for law enforcement agencies to improve transparency on from reporting use-of-force incidents to eliminate what are considered discriminatory policing practices.
“Policing is not done by laying a knee on one’s windpipe,” Meeks said, referring to the manner in which Floyd was allegedly killed. “We need better policing that is more respectful. We need greater diversity in all sectors.” He noted that more diversity is needed at the corporate level and minorities need access to capital. Meeks said that investment in minority community financial institutions is needed to help people buy homes with low interest rates and help people build wealth.
In a world where what is called fake news appears more frequently and at first blush looks true, Meeks said that people need to “go back to the videotape” on what others have said previously, especially elected officials.
Without opposition, Meeks said he has been campaigning for the Biden/Harris ticket as well as other candidates through many Zoom events. “We have to make sure that Biden and Harris do get elected and in the House of Representatives we have to maintain our majority,” he said.
And why should people vote for him? “Because they know I will work 24/7 on their behalf and I never forget the people I represent,” he said. “I have the coverage to fight for the people and I listen.”