- What should be the role of science and scientists in government policy- and decision-making?
Science and scientists should play a pivotal role in government policy and decision making. In todays highly complex world to undertake any endeavor without a hard, honest, and balanced evaluation of the science surrounding it would be fool hardy. I do believe that scientists should be consulted regularly in regards to government policy and decision making. I know that I would certainly do that if elected. However, I also believe it is important for scientist themselves to be apolitical in their professional capacities so as to retain their credibility in the eyes of law makers and elected officials on all points of the political spectrum.
I have a bachelor’s of science from the United States Military Academy and a Masters in Biotechnology from Penn State University and thrive on learning about new scientific discoveries and advances in technology. I am a voracious reader with an insatiable appetite for the likes of National Geographic magazine, Scientific American, or Tuesdays Science Times section of the New York Times. This mindset would be strongly reflected in my record as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 17th District of New York.
- What have you learned from the coronavirus pandemic? What policy changes should be made to both prevent and respond to future pandemics in a more effective way?
In my studies at Penn State there was much discussion about the possibility of a world-wide pandemic because of higher population densities and greater frequency of international travel than ever before. It obvious that our leaders let their guard down and did not make adequate contingency plans or material preparations. Going forward we need to establish more effective countermeasures and a more streamlined community response protocol. Scientists and professionals in the public health and biotechnology sectors should be recruited to develop these plans that will include specific steps to be taken when initial early indicators detect that a new infectious agent has been identified and is showing signs of virulence. An interdisciplinary umbrella group of professionals from the medical and social sciences along with key players in government, the military and industry should then be formed to facilitate the implementation and execution of this formalized national plan of action.
I also believe that drug approval protocols should be streamlined to accelerate our ability to counteract and defeat new pathogens more rapidly. In the current pandemic I believe that antibody cocktails should have been isolated and deployed much quicker than they were as they tend to have a good safety profile even if they prove to be less effective than anticipated.
CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- What are your policy priorities to address the ongoing climate crisis? How would these policies impact other systems, if any (e.g. economy, agriculture, education)?
I support the idea of a carbon tax on greenhouse emissions. The tax could be moderate at first, and then gradually escalate as environmental impacts are observed, and new sustainable green technologies emerge and mature. The tax could also be eased if the nation is experiencing an economic or social shock like the current pandemic.
I don’t think anyone can be certain about the actual time frame of environmental impacts due climate change like sea rise and desertification. As such we should use the available time to continue to research the science behind climate change and monitor new sustainable technologies as they emerge and mature, so that when the transition from fossil fuels to green energy accelerates in the coming years, we can be sure that we are moving towards our best possible option.
- Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not? If you support transitioning our economy away from fossil fuel dependence, how will you support workers who will need to transition to different industries?
I do not support the Green New Deal. The first plank states “Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.” That is clearly socialism which I do not support. Surely there are many worthy goals listed within, but much of it is stated in a utopian context, as if to say that all we have to do is pass the Deal and all of its tenets will automatically snap into place. The transition from fossil fuels to sustainable technologies will not happen overnight and will require determination and innovation. Of course, we want to have a robust economy that will create a multitude of well-paying jobs, drive unemployment to record lows and provide families with financial and medical security. However, this can and must be achieved through free market forces.
Workers transitioning from fossil fuels to other means of employment should be supported with opportunities to retrain and embark on new career paths. However, there are so many economic variables at play it is hard to say how much help workers will need and what types of skill sets will provide them with the greatest advantage. As the situation evolves government bodies and elected officials should be poised to step in and assist them.
- What should our education system, from K-12 to higher ed, be doing to prepare students to be adaptable critical thinkers, especially considering the challenges of climate change, misinformation, and work at the human-technology frontier?
I am certainly in favor of developing adaptable, critical thinking skills in all of our students so they can be nimble enough to navigate what could be the unpredictable and uncertain economic shoals of the near and distant future. I am not an educator and so would defer to those with expertise in that area as to the specific measures to be taken. However, I am staunchly in favor of universal pre-K because I believe the best way to put a child on the path to success is to stimulate their minds at the earliest possible opportunity.
- Optional: How, if at all, has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your positions on education policies? What should be the federal government’s role in ensuring public schools are equitably funded and serve the needs of our children?
I also believe the public schools should be fully funded. One of the burning issues in Rockland County is in regards to curriculum equivalency between the public and private schools. Many religious schools in the area do not teach secular subjects to their student body, but none the less continue to draw funding from state and federal sources. This causes significant resentment among public school proponents who feel, like I do, that funding should not be diverted from the public schools, where we strive to teach graduates to be self-reliant, contributing members of society to schools that refuse to teach a secular education.
I am in favor of requiring private schools to proactively certify with the federal department of Education, that they are in fact teaching a substantially equivalent education to their respective state standard before federal funds could flow.
FOOD & AGRICULTURE
- To what extent are you concerned about the threat of climate change in disrupting agriculture in New York State in the coming decades? What, if any, policy changes should be made to ensure our farms are resilient?
I don’t have the expertise or insight into agriculture to understand what threat is posed by the onset of climate change. I would certainly be responsive to emerging issues regarding agriculture and agronomy by working in collaboration with scientists and farmers to mitigate any potential negative impacts on our food supply.
- Restrictions and suspensions of new work visas, especially for high-skilled workers in science and technology fields, could affect scientific progress and innovation. Do you agree with these restrictions? Why or why not?
I am in favor using H1B visas and other programs to bring skilled workers into the United States when and where they are needed to keep America competitive. However, I believe we should take care not to overlook native talent when sourcing high skilled labor. I don’t have any specific insight to how these programs are administered, but I just want to be certain that we don’t make it so easy for employers to bring in workers from overseas that some of our own citizens miss out on opportunities to find work, advance and have successful careers in technology and other areas. This goes back to the education issue; in that we need to ensure that our high schools and community colleges prepare their graduates to effectively compete in the modern economy.
- What is your position on the 1996 Dickey Amendment? What role should the federal government take in addressing issues relating to gun violence?
I do not agree with the Dickey Amendment. I feel that federal funded researched show be free to delve into the cause and effect of gun violence and pass on their findings to the public. However, I do think we need to be careful to ensure that any such research is not deliberately designed or presented in such a way to further a preordained political objective. Do the research and let the chips fall where they may.