By Frank Quinn
Deborah Glick, the veteran Democratic state assembly member representing District 66, which includes Greenwich Village, Soho, and Tribeca, is facing a challenger in the upcoming November election. Tamara Lashchyk, a longtime local resident, is the Republican candidate seeking the assembly seat Ms. Glick has held for nearly 30 years.
Ms. Lashchyk agreed to be interviewed for this article, but Ms. Glick responded via her staff that she was unavailable for an interview due to numerous scheduling conflicts. WestView News has invited both candidates to join us for a recorded debate which we will present at www.westviewnews.org. Please see our October edition for further details.
Sixty-five percent of voters in District 66 are registered Democrats, with only 10 percent registered as Republican and 22 percent registered as unaffiliated. Like much of the country, election turnout in the district is significantly greater during presidential cycles, with the largest turnout in recent years being in 2008 when Barack Obama defeated John McCain. 2016 had considerably less voter turnout when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, but still greater than in non-presidential cycles. Preliminary results in this year’s presidential primary suggest turnout this November could rival that of 2008 despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
Ms. Glick has a formidable electoral history, decisively beating her challengers in both primary and general elections. She last faced a Republican challenger in 2010 when she won with 80 percent of the vote. Her strongest opponent was 2018 Working Families Party candidate Cynthia Nixon who, surprisingly, released a statement before the election stating “please do NOT vote for me, vote for Deborah Glick.” Nixon had recently lost to Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary for Governor, and for legal reasons reluctantly ran against Glick in the general election as the only way to get off the gubernatorial line. Interestingly, Nixon’s challenge resulted in a larger than normal voter turnout in the district during a non-presidential cycle.
Tamara Lashchyk has never run for public office. She is entering the race after a 26-year career on Wall Street and, more recently, establishing a professional coaching business. Born in the East Village, with family still living there, Ms. Lashchyk vividly describes her childhood experience when her parents moved to New Jersey to escape the decline of their neighborhood in the 1970s. Considering the current turmoil in the city, including violence and looting near her Soho residence, she bemoans policies she believes are not serving residents but resulting in another mass exodus instead. She stated, “I’m upset with how politicized everything has become, and policies being made around political agendas. I’m skeptical about how information is represented and open to differences of opinion, and plan to address issues based on my conscience and what I think is right for my constituents. I welcome differences of opinion because diversity of thought leads to the greatest innovation. And after a long career in a tough industry I have a sense of self and don’t think I can be rolled over.”
Ms. Lashchyk believes the economic impact related to the pandemic will be permanent, and is anticipating a complete rebuilding of the New York economy. She thinks the legislature should focus on incentives that will attract businesses to New York and wants the state to pick industry sectors for special consideration. One such target she recommends is robotics. “The only way we can attract manufacturing back to the US from China is if we are further along in robotics, and this sector could benefit both New York City and the larger state. Tech talent available in NYC will be attractive to the industry, with opportunities to create automated manufacturing plants statewide.” Other sectors she believes would be wise to pursue include biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Homelessness and mental illness are problems District 66 residents confront on a daily basis, and Ms. Lashchyk believes the legislature should be lobbying the federal government to adopt a national strategy to confront these issues, then coordinate solutions at the state and local level. Through her coaching business she sees how pandemic-related isolation causes stress-related problems like depression and addiction relapse, and thinks those suffering with mental illness are similarly impacted but likely with more serious consequences. She considers problems like school shootings and homelessness to be aspects of a national mental health crisis, and she’s extremely upset with the expensive failure of the ThriveNYC program. “I remember as a little girl, people urinating and worse in front of our building and my mother having to confront them in front of me. Now it seems like that period is returning. And while I still feel relatively safe on the street, I’m concerned that our mentally ill population is becoming more aggressive. Mental health problems show up in many different forms, and it’s a problem that is affecting our entire country.”
When asked about the city’s request for the legislature to allow it to borrow money for operating expenses, Ms. Lashchyk expressed a lack of confidence in the current administration’s decision-making process. “We can’t let the lights go out, but I could only be supportive if there is responsible oversight. We need to understand what incentives are being developed to solve systematic over-spending.”