AOC meets Caruso-Cabrera, Khan face-to-face six days to primary
Six days to primary elections, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representing NY District 14th, on Wednesday, has faced off her democratic primary contenders during a debate sponsored by Parkchester Times held at Golden Place at 1451 Unionport road in Bronx.
After previously participating in virtual debates on BronxNet and NY1, congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez turned up for the in-person faceoff with two of her rivals for the democratic ticket—activist Badrun Khan and journalist Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.
As a way of observing the social distancing rules, as demanded by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez only 10 people – six media personnel, the three candidates and the moderator for the debate Gary Axelbank were allowed inside the room where the debate which started past 7p.m, was taking place.
The debate saw Caruso-Cabrera and Ocasio-Cortez constantly squaring it out, with the former accusing the latter of not caring for the community in the 14th congressional district.
“Alexandria is M.I.A. I will have a constituency office in the district from day one. I will speak to people face to face not on Twitter. With Alexandria, you get divisiveness, polarization but with me, you will get unity,” said Caruso-Cabrera.
Ocasio-Cortez fired back saying; “Caruso is so obsessed with the six days that I got sick in March during the COVID-19 when I stayed home. Even then, I continued to march forward. I continued to do my work from home for our community. I managed to raise about $1 million for our community. Caruso on the other hand, lived in Trump tower until six months ago. She is financed by Trump donors. Be careful. Before you give someone your vote, ask yourself a question: Have I seen this woman before in my constituency?” said Ocasio-Cortez.
Khan on the other hand, touted herself as a grass root person who did not have any celebrity status.
“I have been in this community for a long time. I take donations, only from my people in the district. This is why I believe we need more jobs in the Bronx. That’s what I am looking for. When I walk on Westchester Avenue, I see shops closed. We need to bring jobs into our community,” said Khan.
On police reforms, Khan noted that there was need to put more money into legal aid for those in incarceration; something she said isn’t happening at the moment.
“Most police officers don’t need guns. We should look at making sure people have a better life after they serve their time in prison and that’s not happening right now. When we take money out of the police, it needs to go into education for those in jail. We need to make sure prisoners make a minimum wage not the 60 cents they get. We have to equip them on how to survive in society,” concluded Khan.
Caruso-Cabrera observed that criminal justice reforms were long overdue.
“We need to get to the heart of why what happened to George Floyd happened. That is why, when I’m elected, I will work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria doesn’t do this. She works against Nancy, she works against governor Cuomo. She doesn’t support Biden, but that’s not how you get things done. We need to make sure we sit at the table with everyone. Police reforms need to happen,” reiterated Caruso-Cabrera before she was interjected by Ocasio-Cortez saying; “Excuse me! I have said multiple times that I will be voting for Vice President Joe Biden.”
Ocasio-Cortez said she supports those pushing for police reforms.
“We need to put some of that money used to fund the police into community services. It can be done quite simply, without destroying families and making sure that the communities are safe. I support the end of qualified immunity. We have to make sure we are objective about it,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
When asked by moderator Axelbank on why she supported Amazon’s pull out from New York and if she regretted that decision, Ocasio-Cortez said the 25,000 jobs Amazon had promised to create were not going to come.
“There was no independent assessment on the 25,000 jobs, what we had were statistics from Amazon itself. It is very important that we deal with facts when it comes to this issue. One other thing is that this is a state level deal and I’m a member of congress. We asked that warehouse workers needed to be unionized but Amazon said no! We have to be wary when huge corporations come into our community and refuse to unionize their work staff,” concluded Ocasio-Cortez.
The three candidates spoke about the US’s foreign policy in the Middle East, with Khan saying Palestine should be its own state.
Caruso-Cabrera emphasized the need for the US to preserve its relationship with Israel adding that right now, China should be America’s biggest concern.
Ocasio-Cortez said, “I believe in fundamental human rights and the US should not be financing the incarceration of children. We have to stand up for human rights everywhere. We have to make sure human rights are preserved.”
The democratic primary elections are set for June 23.
Correspondent: Moses Kuwema