Recently there has been much media coverage of politicians’ attitudes toward the military, especially those fallen, captured, wounded or ill, physically or emotionally, as a result of their service. So far, that news coverage has been on the national level, but it’s important to note that veterans and active duty military affairs are also of concern to a candidate running for New York State’s legislature.
Voters in the 94th Assembly District, which includes Yorktown and Somers, have a choice between the Republican incumbent, Kevin Byrne, and his Democratic opponent, Stephanie Keegan.
Although not elected to political office, Stephanie is no stranger to working with Congress, especially on veterans’ affairs, and was recently endorsed by Chuck Schumer. Her involvement began tragically with the loss of her eldest son, Daniel, 28, a highly-decorated veteran of two tours in Afghanistan. After discharge, Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and resulting addiction problems, to which he succumbed while waiting over 16 months for a medical appointment with the VA.
A former educator, Ms. Keegan then quit her job four years ago to spend half her time in Washington, working with Congress on veterans’ concerns. She is also supporting every New Yorker’s access to affordable health care, including mental health addiction issues. Her interest in health extends to environmental matters, especially the safe decommissioning of Indian Point, so close to the Montrose VA nursing home.
Along with health and the environment, safety of all kinds is a concern for Stephanie. In contrast, Byrne has voted against prohibiting domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, establishing a firearms buy-back program, increasing penalties for improper gun storage, tightening background checks and prohibiting guns on school grounds. Unsurprisingly, for this ally of the NRA and Trump, Byrne recently was voted among the three most conservative members of the state Assembly.
In contrast, Ms. Keegan, is sensitive to current needs, respecting peaceful protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and its insistence on criminal justice. On the other hand, Byrne voted “No” on disclosure of law enforcement disciplinary actions and on officers reporting weapons discharge to their superiors. During this COVID-19 pandemic, he also voted against funds to help its indirect victims, whether unemployed, lacking utilities or evicted.
I strongly urge you to vote to replace far-right incumbent Assemblyman Kevin Byrne with his compassionate and courageous Democratic opponent, Stephanie Keegan.
Anne S. Kupersmith