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NT-3346 @ 01:17:56
The Eleventh Hour - Show # Title: New Congress People Original Broadcast Date: 4-13-90 Guests: Two New York Congressional Representatives: Susan Molinari (Rep.), and Jose Serrano (Dem.) Description: Two New Yorkers win Congressional seats - their constituents are world's apart - will they be allies or enemies?
INTERVIEW CONCLUDES: Robert Lipsyte 17:56 Yeah, well, Joe, how do you I mean, you're juggling several, several balls up in the air, you represent a specific constituency, yet you also represent New York in the Northeast, and yet you are a national politician, you represent the country where sometimes one would think there might be different priorities? Jose Serrano 18:19 Well, yes, but here, here's the point. Susan doesn't deny that she's a Republican. I don't deny I'm a Democrat, and we have very serious differences. I do not agree with the President. I didn't agree with his predecessor. But because we can't forget this because we were elected in a special election. A lot of attention has been paid on us as a almost as a team to two newcomers to town coming from the same city, we find a lot of common ground to work on. That doesn't mean it's going to continue forever. I knew her father, I worked. I know her father, I worked with him in the assembly. I went to him on many occasions for votes for education. He was supportive. He came and did the same thing to me, though, we're not trying to paint a rosy picture. We have serious differences and party differences. But whenever we can find common ground to help the city of New York, you saw that in the assembly, you saw it in the Senate, and you'll want to see it in the Congress, Susan Molinari 19:14 if I may also now don't forget, Jose comes from a very active two party system with regard to the tensions of the New York State Assembly dealing with the New York State Senate. And you had to learn to work within those boundaries. I spent my last four and a half years as a member of the Republican Party versus 34 Democrats in the New York City Council. So as long as you respect a person, you can deal with the differences in a very constructive fashion. I think. Robert Lipsyte 19:38 Joe earlier in the program, we asked Susan about her her priority, something she would really like to accomplish in the next few months. Is it something specific on your mind? Jose Serrano 19:48 Well, my priorities I think are more a little bit more difficult than a lot of other members by representing the poorest district in the nation. I have to first try to bring back some of the confidence of the voters in my district to government because they've been hurt in the Bronx by a lot of scandals and a lot of problems. Secondly, I have to try to be a voice for people who live in districts like mine throughout the country. Thirdly, I have to quickly establish myself in the area of education, where I told people when I asked him to vote for me, that I would be a voice for educational reform. And I'm trying to do that and trying to accomplish it before the next petition period, which is in June. And last but not least, by virtue of being the only Puerto Rican in Congress, the three and a half million people who live in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, look to me for some assistance in dealing with some of their issues. For instance, Puerto Rico, is now being considered for a plebiscite, a vote, which shall determine the future of the Commonwealth. So I don't have the luxury of being the expert in one area, the education is my strength, the issues of the poor is what I know best. But I have to try to do everything while at the same time trying to build a reputation in Congress that says, This guy may have very strong philosophical beliefs. But he's not here to cause problems. He's not here to intimidate anyone he's willing to work he's willing to negotiate Robert Lipsyte 21:18 in terms of being a role model for Puerto Ricans is that kind of an added an added thing that you've got to be thinking about Jose Serrano 21:27 Yeah But that's been the part of my career, that's been the most wonderful reward and the most difficult, painful situation, as being one who grew up in the projects and from parents who came here very poor, I take very seriously, my my role model status, if you will, so much so that I allowed Susan to be sworn in one day before me, so that I could wait till the 28th of March, which was the 38th anniversary of my parents arrival from Puerto Rico. And in my first newsletter, I will publicize to the children in every school in my district, that if I could become a US Congressman growing up in a housing project that you can achieve, and try to accomplish the same in life. That's something that you don't read in the box scores, as we say, those who us who love baseball, but it's something that goes with the job of representing that particular district. Robert Lipsyte 22:21 Yeah. On the other side, of course, there there are people who feel that you haven't made the rapprochement with your black constituency in the South Bronx, that there's still a problem ahead of you. Jose Serrano 22:33 Well, there were some elected officials who didn't like my candidacy. They supported me. Some of them support me, others did not. I've reached out to all and I have their support, once again. But the support that fills my heart, is the fact that my opponent received 7% of the vote, and I received 93% of the vote. And so no one bought the division that my opponent tried to bring the press made more of the fact that a couple of black elected officials at the onset, when I first announced were questioning whether they should be candidates or why should be candidates, the final result was the United Party. And I can tell you now that I'm very happy to tell you that that unity continues on through June, September and November of this year. Robert Lipsyte 23:23 Susan, one of one of your, I guess, burdens and gifts is your father. And you certainly moving out from moving out from under his his mantle in in taking positions that he does not espouse one of them being the possible secession of Staten Island, which most of the time sounds like a joke, yes, is it? Susan Molinari 23:49 No, it's not. It's a very serious issue to the people of Staten Island. Those jokes about that island that's not a part of the city of New York is something that's felt very seriously by the men and women who work very hard for the quality of life that we've been able to achieve on Staten Island, the quality of life that attracts people from all other boroughs to move to Staten Island to raise their families and to retire there that's been threatened in recent years, not only as again, do we have the world's largest garbage dump, we've now been promised that New York City's largest or second largest maximum security prison. The New York City government fights us on a homeport something that Staten Island wants desperately. Our taxes are going up. Our services are not coming back out of a tactical narcotics team force of 618. Two years ago, Staten Island got eight. It really just shows you some times where the emphasis of the city of New York is with regard to Staten Island, and the blinders that they have on to the real problems that we're facing. Staten Islanders reaction to that is hey, wait a minute, we may be better off with our own taxpayer base making our own decisions, controlling our own future and not being labeled or burdened with misperceptions from the other four boroughs. Robert Lipsyte 24:55 Now, both of you seem to be representing very embattled parts of the city. of the South Bronx and Staten Island, although we don't don't think of it this way. Now you're both on the Small Business Committee. How will you approach that in similar or different ways? Mr. Serrano? Do you use? Do you see Jose Serrano 25:13 what there's a lot of similar problems that exist with the small business community, my community throughout the nation. My community, of course, are the bodega owners, the small shop owners, but they're no different than then Susan. And for us. The only difference I think could be that maybe in Susan's community, some of the small shop owners or people who've been there a long time in my district, the other people who are beginning to for the first time to feel and to taste a part of the American dream, and owning their first bodega, or the first dry cleaners or their first candy store, if you will, is their first shot at being taxpaying Americans and business people. And so I have to try to do whatever I can to help that situation. But it's not that dissimilar from others throughout the city. Robert Lipsyte 26:02 Susan, I guess it's not dissimilar on Staten Island either. Susan Molinari 26:05 Well, no, because what both our districts have is not that high rise, apartment building, corporate type structure, our small business base, or the service stores, again, the grocery stores, the clothing stores, and everybody in New York City, who has a commercial license is feeling particularly hard hit. In most cases, those smaller bodegas or supermarkets in the more suburban areas are finding themselves hit, especially within the last two years by perhaps a 700% increase in their taxes. And this is what we have to work on, even from the federal level, because now unfortunately, the phenomenon is taking place across the Northeast, as we heard in hearings today, and may be a trend continuing throughout the country of what have small businesses losing their grip, first of all on their abilities, to get loans to get them out of hard times. And second of all, the lack of spending, which is contributing to almost a recession in the Northeast right now. And of course, while we feel it as as homeowners, certainly the small businesses are the first ones that get hit with that. Robert Lipsyte 27:04 Susan Molinari, Jose Serrano, thanks so very much for being wtih us. there's the the rookie phenom is of this season in Congress, and if they keep going as they did tonight, that'd be a great double play combination. Thanks again.
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