By Michele Justic
Who hasn’t looked at their pay stub on their way home, riding on the crowded and often-delayed LIRR or driving on the pothole-filled streets, and wondered: “Where does my money go?” Senate candidate Chele Farley would not only like to answer that question for you, but would also like to propose a solution of a more equitable tax structure for New Yorkers.
Can a Republican win the race? Since Chuck Schumer was elected to Al D’Amato’s seat in 1998, New York has had two Democratic senators. The other Senate seat has for a long time belonged to Democrats — most recently, to Hillary Clinton, and since 2010, to Kirsten Gillibrand. It has been a long time since a new voice was heard from New York and an even longer time since that voice was representative of Republican ideas. But as was learned with the Trump election surprise, when voters can express themselves in the booths, anything can happen.
In a similar fashion, Chele Chiavacci Farley represents the commonsense business person mindset. Her father was a scientist who encouraged her to study math, science, and engineering. She majored in industrial engineering at Stanford University before serving in the financial services industry. She and her husband, Richard, are raising three sons in New York.
Serving as the New York State Republican party’s New York City finance chair, Farley’s financial service experience from UBS Capital, Goldman Sachs, and as partner and managing director of Mistral Capital International, a private equity investment firm specializing in the real estate and energy industries where she executes and oversees principal investments, reinforces her commitment to financial responsibility and limiting spending.
Her first goal, as expressed on her campaign website, is “recapturing the $48 billion more that New Yorkers pay in federal taxes each year than the state receives. By addressing the unfair treatment of New York taxpayers, Chele intends to invest in the state’s crumbling roads and bridges and to fix the nation’s largest mass-transportation system. Chele recognizes that these infrastructure improvements will create jobs, promote the state’s long-term economic health, and ease the crushing burden placed on property taxpayers.”
During our phone interview, Farley was eloquent, committed, and well-versed on the issues. “Over one million people left New York in the last 10 years. People are upset that their kids no longer live in New York. They need to move out to get jobs,” she said.
She believes the main reason for the exodus is that money is “going in the wrong direction.” She thinks the new tax bill is good but could have been better. Farley cites this as one of many instances in which Gillibrand has not been a strong voice for New York. Capping the property-tax deduction will hurt many New Yorkers who pay the highest property taxes in the country. Meanwhile, local governments often have to pay for infrastructure improvements that should be paid for by the federal government. Bridges, waterways, and the LIRR continue to fall into disrepair.
Congressman Peter King, (R–NY 2nd District) shares this idea, stating: “I am proud to endorse Chele Farley for the United States Senate. Chele Farley is smart and strong and will fight hard for middle-income New Yorkers who are the backbone of our state. Vote for New York. Vote for Chele Farley.”
In response, Chele said, “Whether it’s fighting for infrastructure projects like the Gateway Project or his tireless efforts on behalf of improving homeland security, Peter King always stands up for New York. I’m honored to accept his endorsement.”
Farley prefers not to think of this as a race of Democrat against Republican. Farley views herself as “someone who is actually going to accomplish something for the people of New York.” Citing Gillibrand’s congressional record, Farley said the senator sponsored 300 bills, but none of them passed into law.
Farley said she was surprised when Republican and former Senator Al D’Amato, a longtime friend of Kirsten Gillibrand’s father, decided to endorse Farley. In his endorsement, D’Amato stated, “The Kirsten Gillibrand of today is unrecognizable to the person who interned for me or even the person who served in Congress — she has abandoned New Yorkers in her pursuit of her presidential ambitions.”
Perhaps most evident to our community is Farley’s stance on U.S.–Israel relations. While Gillibrand repeatedly courted the Jewish vote, she has most notably voted in favor of the Iran nuclear deal — even separating from Chuck Schumer on the issue. Gillibrand voted against the Taylor Force Act, aimed at preventing funding of terrorists. Gillibrand also took her name off the anti-BDS bill, citing free-speech concerns. “She let the entire pro-Israel community down,” Farley said.
Farley visited Israel in May to celebrate the country’s 70th anniversary with a comprehensive tour, including Hamas terror tunnels, an IDF training base in the Negev, and Mearat HaMachpelah. She called Mearat HaMachpelah “incredibly impressive; I cannot believe that King Herod built this 2,000 years ago. It’s absolutely spectacular; it’s a feat of engineering. And as an engineer, that meant quite a bit to me. But it’s very inspiring to go in there and actually be able to pray at the Tomb of Abraham.”
Just before the embassy was moved, Farley was honored to have an extended meeting with Ambassador David Friedman. They spoke about the practicality of moving the embassy as seen by a career politician versus a businessperson. She reports he said, “They need more business people there to get something done.” The original plan would have cost over $1 billion and taken over ten years. Ambassador Friedman suggested calling the existing consulate the embassy and to open it right away.
At the recent Celebrate Israel concert, Farley told enthusiastic crowds, “With a history as old as time, I believe just as strongly in Israel’s future. From extended families to shared values and interconnected economies, there is no state with a greater connection to the Israeli people than New York. As a member of the United States Senate, I can assure you that strengthening this relationship and keeping our mutual security interests will be my personal priority. This commitment starts with unwavering support for the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital . . . And as a member of the United States Senate, I will lead the effort against anyone who suggests otherwise.”
While New York’s voting history would seem to give Farley slim odds of success, Farley is a realist and said she “only [undertook this campaign] when I was convinced there is a path to victory.” With Real Clear Politics calling Gillibrand a “safe Democrat,” it is clear Farley needs our community to give her our full support.
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