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Cortlandt’s Becker Exploring Run for Congress

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Cortlandt Councilman Dr. Richard Becker is eyeing Nan Hayworth's congressional seat.

Cortlandt Councilman Dr. Richard Becker is exploring a run for Congress next year against Republican incumbent Nan Hayworth.

Becker, 57, who is running unopposed for a second four-year term on the Cortlandt Town Board this fall, said in an exclusive interview he has filed papers with the federal Election Commission and has already started fundraising for a potential race to represent the 19th Congressional District, which spans five counties and approximately 800,000 residents.

“We have decided to look into it and so far the responses have been very supportive,” said Becker, who is a registered Democrat. “By the fall we’ll know what the support is and what the chances are. What we’re hearing is very encouraging but it’s very early.”

Before making his decision, the 28-year cardiologist and Cortlandt resident said he met with former Congressman John Hall, who was ousted by Hayworth last year. Becker said Hall was “very encouraging” and gave him some advice on waging a Congressional race, which will cost about $2 million.

“There needs to be a change on who is running the 19th District,” Becker said of Hayworth, who has only been in office seven months. “This is a large district and the support for change is very strong. I think we will do okay.”

One of the specific criticisms Becker had of Hayworth was “her vote against Medicare.”

“The Ryan plan destroys Medicare. That was one of the most detrimental votes against health care in the United States,” he said.

Nat Sillin, communications director for Hayworth, said it was untrue and “disingenuous” to claim Hayworth voted against Medicare.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that the plan will end Medicare,” Sillin said. “The plan she voted for is the only one that will protect and preserve Medicare and Medicaid and gives greater choices to patients.”

Becker also said Hayworth made a statement a recent business conference in Westchester that government should not be involved in creating jobs.

“I couldn’t disagree more,” he said. “There is a lot that can be done for the economy.”

Sillin maintained Becker misinterpreted what Hayworth said to business leaders, saying “What she said is government should not be in the business of creating jobs. That should be left to the public sector. Government has proved to be ineffective in creating jobs.”

Environmental issues first propelled Becker to get involved in local issues, specifically the preservation of Dickerson Mountain from development. He was later appointed to the Cortlandt Zoning Board of Appeals and was elected to the Town Board in 2007. On the town board, he spearheaded the creation of the town’s discounted oil price program for residents and more recently has been in the forefront of the town’s “Taking Care of Business” cable program, which spotlights area businesses.

“I love being a councilman. It’s the best thing I have ever done in my life,” Becker said. “I’m much more of an idea person than a detailed person.”

Becker said his race for town board will be self-funded and he’ll make a final decision on running for Congress by the end of the year.

“It was an opportunity that just seemed to make sense to me,” Becker said. “To be asked to lead the Democratic charge was an honor. I think I’ve learned in politics to take it one day at a time and believe in yourself.”



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