On June 5, voters in the Ninth Congressional District will go to the polls to choose the Democratic and Republican congressional candidates who will vie for the House seat in November. The Jewish Standard posed a series of 10 questions and asked the candidates to respond. Aside from slight editing, the responses are their own, unfiltered by reporter or editor.
The two Democratic candidates, incumbents William J. Pascrell, Jr. and Steve Rothman, responded to our request. Two of the three Republican candidates – Blase Billack, Ph.D, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach – also responded. Efforts to reach the third candidate, Dr. Hector Castillo, were unsuccessful.
What follows are the questions as posed to the candidates. A “shorthand” version appears in the body of each set of answers.
The sets of answers appear in alphabetical order in both races. No significance should be attached to who appears before whom, or how much space is allotted to each candidate.
1. Why should voters choose you over your opponent(s)?
2. What steps should be taken regarding Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons?
3. Should the United States commit to attacking Iran if it crosses red lines of nuclear enrichment – and what do you think those red lines should be?
4. What are your views on tuition vouchers for Jewish and other parochial schools?
5. How would you balance the concerns of your Jewish and your Muslim constituents when they conflict?
6. Rep. Joe Walsh has introduced a bill supporting Israel’s annexation of the west bank. Writing recently in The Washington Times, he elaborated, calling on Israel to annex the west bank and offer its non-Jewish inhabitants “limited voting rights.” Do you support Rep. Walsh’s proposals? Please explain your answer.
7. How do you feel about calls to cut funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program?
8. Please list in order of importance what issues you think Jewish voters in your district consider most important in choosing someone to represent them on Capitol Hill?
9. What do you consider the most important issue(s) will be for voters in this district going into the November elections?
10. Do you agree that there is a paralyzing partisanship on Capitol Hill and, if you do, what would you do to change things if elected in November?