U.S. Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Leader Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside & Parts of the Bronx) and primary challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met for their first and only Congressional debate on NY1 last Friday.

    Rep. Crowley represents New York’s 14th Congressional District seat and holds the fourth-highest ranking position in House Democratic leadership. He is facing his first primary challenger in nearly a decade: a 28-year old woman with roots that go back three generations in the Bronx.

    Ocasio-Cortez started off the debate in an opening statement saying not all Democrats are the same. She criticized Crowley for representing his community while sending his children to school in Virginia.

    “If a person loved their community, they would choose to raise their family here. They would choose to send their children to our schools. They would choose to drink out water and breathe our air. It takes away a fundamental interest and understanding of our communities when we choose to raise our families somewhere else,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    When asked by NY1’s host Errol Louis about going to school outside of the 14th District, she explained that she was four years old and it was her parents’ choice. She planned to keep her future children in the district and send them to their schools.

    Crowley defended his representation and said he assisted candidates from various backgrounds get elected during his reign as head of Queens Democrats. This is what he wants for the city to truly represent their constituents.

    “But I also take it on the road to nationally helping Democrats win, because I think it’s critical, facing what we are today with this president, that we win back the House of Representatives at all costs. We have to win, because if we don’t, serious damage will be done to our democracy,” he said.

    Ocasio-Cortez further attacked Crowley on his stance on ICE and criticized him for not eliminating the program.

    “Your response has been to apply more paperwork to this situation.  To have ICE collect more information on immigrants. That puts more communities in danger. And that also puts a profound misunderstanding to how we should be approaching to this problem,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

    Crowley explained that abolishing ICE would not solve the problem of taking the power out of the hands of Attorney General Jeff Sessions or President Donald Trump.

    “We know it’s about making a change in Washington. It’s about Democrats taking control of House of Representatives. That’s what I am going to do this November,” Crowley said.

    Overall, Crowley elaborated the prime opponent is President Trump, and the best candidate needs experience and qualifications to face his presidency.

    “We need someone who is a champion and a proven leader. I am a proven leader. I am in the House Democratic leadership. I am poised at this time to take on the President,” said Crowley.

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