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Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi is setting his sights on Congress.
Gashi, a Yorktown resident who was elected to his second term on the Board of Legislators last November, is gathering signatures to run a Democratic primary against incumbent Rep. Jamaal Bowman on June 28.
In an interview with Examiner Media, Gashi said the recent redistricting of congressional territories that moved Bowman’s 16th Congressional District into Yorktown and bumped Rep. Mondaire Jones out sparked his interest in vying for federal office.
“That’s when the conversations started. This wasn’t on my radar. I was happy with Mondaire Jones,” Gashi said. “I would only get in this if I thought I had a chance to win. It feels like an historic moment, an urgent need, and that’s why I am in it. It will take a huge effort by a lot of people.”
Bowman, who lives in Yonkers, was elected to Congress in 2020. In 2009, he founded Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a Bronx middle school with a holistic curriculum, where he served as principal for a decade.
Gashi said he was challenging Bowman because he disagreed with some of his votes, one being Bowman’s opposition to President Joe Biden’s $1.5 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because he felt it didn’t do enough to increase social safety net funding. The bill passed regardless.
“I think we voted for Biden so we could have progress,” Gashi said. “I felt that (Bowman’s no vote) was out of step with the president’s agenda, the party’s agenda and frankly where the voters in the district are.”
Gashi also said he was disappointed when Bowman voted against emergency funding for Capitol police following the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.
“I would have voted differently,” Gashi said.
Gashi, an attorney, graduated from Lakeland High School. Born in Kosovo, at the age of four he and his family fled the oppressive, socialist regime to the United States. After passing the New York Bar, Gashi was called to service in Kosovo to join the effort to help establish the newly-formed state. He helped draft some of Kosovo’s foundational legal documents and create its Ministry of Local Government Administration.
Commenting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Gashi called the Democratic Socialists of America stance in blaming the U.S. and NATO “imperialist expansion” for the conflict as being “irresponsible.”
“I think that was wrong. It signaled a lack of understanding of what NATO is,” Gashi remarked. “There is only one person to blame for this and it’s Putin. What he is doing against Ukraine, a sovereign country, is really historic and scary. It’s kind of jarring to see the images, to see the attacks on civilians. World War III would be a horrific outcome.”
Gashi said being chairman of the Board of Legislators’ Budget and Appropriations Committee has given him a broad perspective of the needs of the entire congressional district. The district will stretch from the north central Bronx and include Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Harrison, North Castle, Bedford, Somers, Yorktown and portions of Eastchester, New Rochelle and White Plains in Westchester and Putnam Valley and Carmel in Putnam County.
“This is a varied district. There are a lot of parts to it,” he said. “I’m more of a Biden Democrat. I want progress. I want practical results. I have the ability to build consensus in the party and communicate outside the party. We’re going to go out and try to explain why I’m the better candidate.”
Gashi’s has served District 4 on the Board of Legislators since the start of 2019, serving parts of Yorktown and Somers and all of New Castle.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/