As U.S. Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, The Bronx) faces his first Democratic primary challenger in 14 years, the Queens Democratic leader also faces a Republican contender named Anthony Pappas.
Pappas, a St. John’s University professor that teaches economics and finance, received the Queens County Republican Club nomination in New York’s 14th Congressional District earlier this month.
Sitting on a bench on the second floor of Bent Hall, Pappas, a resident in Astoria, explained in soft-spoken tone that he ran to “become part of the national conversation on various issues.”
Pappas, with a copy of The Westchester Rising nearby, suggested “the traditional Republican concern” of taxation as one issue to address.
“The budget for New York City is about $87 billion, approximately. The population of New York City is about 8 and a half million. If you do the division, that turns out to $10,000 per person,” said Pappas.
He elaborated that families and individuals pay a significant amount in taxes, even more for people that don’t pay enough. Furthermore, businesses pass along taxes in their prices that soon return to New York City government’s budget.
“When [officials] offer more in government spending, they don’t really explain that it doesn’t come from free. You have to finance it in some way, and already the cost per person is $10,000 in New York City,” he said.
At the same time, Pappas advocates for policies such as a “graduated, progressive [corporate] income tax.” He elaborated that the corporate tax rate should reflect the billions of dollars that companies make for their profits, higher than what is listed in the top tax bracket.
“It doesn’t have to be extreme, but it should be part of the political conversation,” he said.
If elected, Pappas would prefer to sit on several committees, including the House Judiciary Committee. He favors court reform for institutions like the Supreme Court. The Astoria resident recommended that the Supreme Court should review more cases and more justices should be on the bench.
“How could you say the Supreme Court serves the people when it handles as many cases as it did 200 years ago?” he said.
While he is facing a strong opponent in incumbent Crowley, Pappas may be affected by another Queens native. That person is President Donald Trump. Democrats nationwide have tied Trump’s unpopularity to Republican candidates to ensure voters turnout against them.
Pappas did not fear it would play an issue and cited the mayoral candidacy of State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge, Arrochar, Dongan Hills, South Beach, Midland Beach, New Dorp, Eltingville, Bay Terrance) last year as an example. He noted she didn’t respond toward comments or actions from Trump during that campaign.
“I favor the big-tent approach for political parties,” Pappas said. “For example, I would point out Franklin Delano Roosevelt [had] a coalition under the New Deal with labor unions in the North and segregations in the solid South.”
Once the spring semester ends, Pappas plans to start campaigning and talking with residents at churches, in the subway, at schools, and more in both Queens and the Bronx. In addition, he hopes to obtain the required signatures to be on the official November ballot by deadline.
“I’m realistic. I understand the registration numbers are against me, but I hope to bring some issues to the fore for discussion and help everybody by bringing up the issues,” he said. “Maybe I’ll be elected [or] maybe I won’t.”