In the Fourth Congressional District, incumbent Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from Garden City, faces Douglas Tuman, a Republican from West Hempstead.
The Fourth Congressional District includes Elmont, Baldwin, Bellmore, East Rockaway, East Meadow, the Five Towns, Lynbrook, Floral Park, Franklin Square, Garden City, Hempstead, Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Malverne, Freeport, Merrick, Mineola, Carle Place, New Hyde Park, Oceanside, Rockville Centre, Roosevelt, Uniondale, Wantagh, West Hempstead, Westbury and parts of Valley Stream.
Before Election Day on Nov. 3, the Herald asked the candidates questions about important issues facing the district.
Herald: With the coronavirus pandemic having a negative impact on local businesses, what could you do as a member of Congress to help ensure that businesses get what they need to survive?
Rice: The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented public health and economic crisis that we need to confront simultaneously. Nassau County has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the country and the current uptick in cases as we enter the cold weather seasons is troubling. We need to focus on creating new jobs to replace those that were lost, we need to help our small and mid-sized businesses get back on their feet, and we need to provide continued financial relief to the families who have been most affected by this pandemic. I held weekly conference calls with small businesses in my district with the Small Business Administration and local experts to help navigate the Paycheck Protection Program and other programs available. We also need to think urgently about how we can help our vast healthcare, education and transportation systems adapt to this new normal and ensure that they are prepared for future surges. Long Island is in the process of re-opening, and that’s a good thing. But we need to make sure that our local municipalities, who provide critical services to our constituents, have the tools they need to operate safely and successfully in the weeks and months to come. All of this will require robust federal investment and I’m committed to helping our district secure the resources it needs to recover from this crisis and build back stronger. I am committed to getting a bipartisan relief bill through Congress that can be signed by President Trump. Our front-line workers and small businesses deserve so much better than the typical Washington gridlock.
Tuman: First and foremost, I would work across the aisle to immediately deliver financial relief to small businesses, families and citizens in the form of standalone stimulus payments. That would mean one bill that directly delivers support funding to small businesses and $1,200 stimulus checks to each eligible citizen, no strings or unrelated political objectives attached. Right now in Washington, self-interested politicians and partisan politics have produced gridlock because both parties are trying to stuff unrelated policy measures into their bills. It is not time to play politics. We need relief now. My dual approach of providing funding to businesses and citizens will allow businesses to cover expenses to stay afloat, while improving our economy, which will in turn increase patronage at these small businesses. As businesses reopen, our government should provide personal protective equipment to promote safety and expedite economic recovery. As Congressman, I will introduce a bill that allows small businesses to deduct expenses incurred from the purchase of PPE supplies. We must also create a business-friendly environment to promote small business recovery, start-up, and consumerism in the coming years. To this end, I have developed a six-part tax reform plan that permanently extends pro-small business tax deductions, allows tax deferrals for start-up small businesses, eliminates the SALT cap, eliminates the marriage penalty, increases the child tax credit and increases allowable expense deductions for teachers. These tax reform measures will promote small business growth and consumerism, while making Long Island more affordable.
Herald: What do you think can be done to help assist in resolving the issues we have with race in this country on a local level?
Rice: When it comes to pursuing social and racial justice, we need to first look at criminal justice and policing reform. There is no question that we need to reform police practices in this country to ensure that everyone feels protected and served. I was proud to support the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, which would enact several immediate and life-saving measures to reform police practices in this country. But more broadly, if we want to create social and racial equity, then we need to address systemic inequities that still exist in education, housing, health care and employment. Many of these inequities have been laid bare during the pandemic. Black and Brown communities were hit hardest by the health and economic effects of this crisis, as well as the digital divide that has made remote learning difficult for many communities of color. I’m committed to fighting for these issues in Congress.
Tuman: I believe priority number one is putting politics aside and electing leaders that actually listen to and act on behalf of our communities of color. In office for six years, our Congresswoman has continuously neglected communities like Hempstead, Roosevelt and Uniondale, and missed two times more votes than the average Congressperson in D.C. She has literally left our communities of color voiceless and voteless. From Hempstead to Freeport, I have visited every town in our district to hear about the issues that our communities of color care about: making Long Island more affordable, ensuring safety and protection in our communities, recovering from Covid and improving our schools and local infrastructure. To our communities of color: I have heard you, and I will work for you. My goal is to ensure that the solutions we deliver and opportunities we create are equally available to all residents in our district. To provide safety and protection for all, we must work to support and improve relationships between our police and communities of color through joint community-law enforcement events and training. To improve schools and local infrastructure, we must redirect our federal funding to our own local schools, roads and public transportation.
Herald: Much like businesses, schools need help amid the pandemic. How can the federal government help?
Rice: The health and safety of our children must be our number one priority. This is not an issue where we can cut corners, shortchange funding or let politics dictate our course of action. Municipalities and school districts are financially strapped, and the federal government must provide further assistance so schools can continue to open and operate safely. Unfortunately, providing aid to state and local governments, which would include funding for local school districts, has been a major point of contention in Covid relief negotiations thus far. We can look carefully at the final amount, but there is no question that further relief is needed. I hear it from superintendents and other local officials in Nassau County every single day. We must be willing to compromise on the next bill, but I won’t ever compromise on the safety of our children. I will keep fighting in Congress until our local communities and schools have the resources they need.
Tuman: The federal government’s role in education should be one of support, not control. Our federal government should provide grants to schools that lack the funding to acquire advanced learning technology, like iPads and laptops. At the same time, I unequivocally believe that parents, teachers and local administrators should make all decisions regarding school reopenings, school curriculums, after-school programs, sports and related matters. Our parents, teachers and local communities know what is best for our children, not partisan politicians down in Washington, D.C. The federal government also has another indirect, yet hugely important, role in keeping our schools funded and successful. Our schools are predominantly funded by state and local taxes, namely property taxes, paid by residents and businesses in our school districts. It is vital that our federal government acts immediately in delivering relief to residents and businesses to keep them open. As Congressman, I would introduce a standalone bill to immediately deliver that relief.
Herald: If elected, what are your major goals going forward?
Rice: First and foremost, one of my top priorities in the new Congress will be to help our school districts, small businesses, hospitals and nursing homes recover from this pandemic. In addition to providing these entities with the targeted financial relief they need, I’m also hoping to help them develop and implement new precautions and processes to avoid future Covid-19 surges and combat future pandemics. We have to do more than just bounce back from this crisis, we need to learn from this experience and become more resilient in the same way that we did after Hurricane Sandy. But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost sight of the many pressing issues that were facing my district before this pandemic hit and continue to impact my constituents. That includes the need for immigration reform and gun control legislation, action to combat climate change and of course, repealing the harmful cap on SALT deductions. While the House of Representatives has already passed measures to address these important issues over the past 18 months, the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to act on any of these bills. Nevertheless, I will remain committed to fighting for these priorities in the next Congress. Many of these issues, especially common-sense gun control legislation, have broad support among both the Democratic and Republican electorate. There is no reason why we should let politics get in the way of saving lives.
Tuman: My majors goals moving forward include delivering Covid relief to small businesses and residents on Long Island; supporting our law enforcement; making Long Island more affordable through my six-part tax reform plan and promoting small business growth; reforming higher education through my Degree-in-Three Reform plan; investing in and improving local infrastructure; protecting and reforming social security; supporting Israel as our ally; supporting our veterans; and addressing climate change with private sector technology, development and innovation. For more detail on my plans, I encourage all residents to visit my website at douglastuman.com/issues, or call/text me directly at 516-308-1703 to further discuss.