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Two candidates are now running to challenge two-term Democratic Congressman Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) for the party’s nomination in the 16th Congressional District in 2024.


In late summer, Rev. Michael Gerald, 56, the minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Tuckahoe, the community where he lives, was the first to officially declare his candidacy and his intention to force a primary next June.

Then last week, Dobbs Ferry resident Marty Dolan, 65, who had a long Wall Street career mainly in risk insurance and is also financial adviser, announced he would run for the seat as well.


The district extends from the north Bronx and takes in southern and central Westchester, including White Plains.

Both challengers described themselves as moderates who believe that a large portion of the district’s constituency wants pragmatic leadership. Gerald was more animated in his criticism of some of Bowman’s votes and policies.


“I’ve been looking at this particular seat because I don’t believe that Westchester is being represented as good as it could be represented,” said Gerald, who briefly entered the race for the seat in 2022, but ended that bid because he didn’t have enough time to organize. “I don’t think that the current incumbent champions the whole district. I think he’s a champion for portions of the district and not the whole district, which is problematic.”

Dolan said he has been interested in politics since childhood when his family’s next-door neighbor in Irvington where he grew up was Peter Peyser, the one-time mayor of the village and eventual five-term congressman. Now that he has the time from a family and professional perspective, it was a good opportunity to join the race.

“My perception is there’s just too much extremism in politics right now, straight up through both of the parties,” Dolan said. “I think Westchester’s been under-represented and hasn’t had a strong voice, so I think I provide that.”


A wild card in the race could be whether Westchester County Executive George Latimer decides to enter the fray. His name has been linked to a possible candidacy in multiple reports, but when reached last weekend he said he hasn’t focused on the possibility mainly because the state’s congressional lines may be in flux again. The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission, which is chaired by Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, is being sued, which could shift the district once more depending on the outcome of the litigation.

Latimer told The Examiner that a lot of politicos have reached out to him to gauge his interest, which he called “flattering.”


“The truth of the matter is we don’t know where the lines are,” said Latimer, a Rye resident. “It’s fruitless to even speculate until you know.”


If elected, Dolan said he would stress making common-sense decisions and try to return the country to a more stable environment with an emphasis on working on solutions. He sees an opportunity for the nation to do better.


“When are we as voters going to say we had enough?” he said. “We want things to be fixed; we don’t want to feel like things are in chaos, so (Congress) should go back to work and do your job.”

Dolan said his background in the financial markets, having worked and lived abroad for about 15 years as well as in other parts of the United States gives him a perspective of the country the other candidates in the race don’t have.


“I know we have the resources to do this,” said Dolan, who has brought in a campaign advisory firm to assist him. “This (candidacy) has been carefully thought out.”


Gerald pointed to Bowman’s failure to focus on education, particularly for high-needs schools in the district, which he said “baffles” him considering that the congressman is a former Bronx middle school principal. Bowman’s refusal to support the Democrats’ infrastructure bill and his lack of attention on the housing affordability crisis also is out of step with the district, Gerald said.


It was Bowman’s vote against raising the debt ceiling last spring that served as the final impetus for Gerald to enter the race. Bowman voted in favor of raising the ceiling late last month.


At the time, Bowman said the eventual $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan had been whittled down by Republicans.

“If what we’ve read is true, I would have a very difficult time voting yes on this bill,” Bowman said in 2021. “Two trillion (dollars) was already the compromise. President Biden can’t expect us to vote for an infrastructure deal dictated by the Republican Party.”


An inability to compromise shows a lack of understanding and maturity, Gerald contended.


“If you say you’re a champion for poor people, then vote against infrastructure, that means the cost of goods on the shelves is going to be higher, and therefore, you’re working directly against the constituencies you are claiming to support,” said Gerald, who was a 15-year New Jersey state trooper before an injury sidelined him.

As a member of the clergy, Gerald he has been adamant in his support for Israel, and took Bowman to task for his membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), particularly with last weekend’s deadly attacks by Hamas. The DSA was involved in a counter-protest in Manhattan on Sunday against Israel, Gerald said, and he called on the congressman to renounce his membership in the group.


“We have got to have more credible people in positions of authority that are making choices and decisions and governing for us because this world is becoming more and more volatile,” Gerald said. “We need sensible people. We don’t need highly-charged people, we don’t need incendiary people, we don’t need people screaming at folks in the halls of Congress and in the streets.”


Currently, there no Republicans that have announced their plans to run for the 16th Congressional District.


 

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