New York’s Democratic Political Candidate Talks About Her Race Against Veteran Politician Jerry Nadler
“The establishment does not appreciate a serious primary candidate against a longtime incumbent.”
Acclaimed Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said recently, "There are things about the world that make me so angry that I then want to try and make a difference." For the first time political candidate, Lindsey Boylan, Chimamanda is a contemporary inspiration. While these two women live across international waters from each other, their narrative is similar. They represent strong, unexhausted delivery of grassroots messages that need to be heard. Having followed her campaign in the race for a seat in New York's 10th Congressional District, Lindsey is an indicator of how we can appreciate the traditions of political establishments yet courageously and necessarily challenge tired rhetoric.
Why do you have the confidence to run against one of the most influential Democratic incumbents in Congress?
If the last few years have shown us anything, it's that we can't wait for someone else to make the change we need. We have to do it ourselves. And we have to do it now.
I've spent my personal and professional life in New York City, working for the great State of New York and raising my family here. That's why I'm so deeply invested in fighting for it. Our district is home to The Statue of Liberty; she deserves a representative with the moral courage to fight for what's right - will swing for the fences and bring about the change we need here and now.
You presently enjoy the support of some of the top Democrats in New York, including Peter Daou, who is currently serving as your Senior Advisor. How did you make that happen?
Many people in New York are sick and tired of Machine politics. People feel like their elected officials are part of a broken system that doesn't represent their needs. There is a significant grassroots movement happening here and across the country. Voters want to see a piece of themselves reflected in candidates running for office - and that is how I've been able to build a coalition of support.
What is the most important problem facing New Yorkers today?
I live in one of the most unequal districts in terms of wealth distribution in the country. In this country, every generation should have the opportunity to be as successful, if not more, than the generation before. This extends across having a safe, stable place to live, access to quality education, a living wage and affordable healthcare. We need to restore the American Dream and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
What are the most significant contributions you've made to working families in New York?
As Deputy Secretary of Economic Development for the state of New York, I helped create hundreds of millions of dollars in jobs for working families. I also helped in the fight for $15 minimum wage and paid family leave. I also fought to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in the state budget when NYCHA failed to act.
But there might also be families struggling without jobs. What actions have you've taken and will in the future take for them?
As we look to the future, I'd like to take my experience in the State of New York and scale these programs at the federal level. Additionally, I support the green new deal. Nationally, and around the world, it is not a question of if, but when, the next town will be devastated without the emergency response resources in place to help victims in need of disaster relief. I will commit to delivering investment and workforce development to build safe infrastructure for at-risk areas and create millions of living-wage jobs for communities impacted by our dependence on fossil fuels.
You've shared your experiences on being bullied in the political arena. How do you deal with this
These experiences are not unheard of in any industry. Since I've entered the twitter universe as a candidate, I see how social media is a double-edged sword. I am constantly harassed online - and the establishment does not appreciate a serious primary candidate against a longtime incumbent. What I've realized is that you have to have the moral courage to stand up for what's right - even when it's hard or unpopular. You want to be standing on the right side of history.
What are the common themes New Yorkers are bringing up when you meet them?
Housing and Climate Change are the issues I hear across the district. Recently, when I was knocking on doors, I met a young woman who lived in a beautiful apartment and likely made a much better living than I did at her age. Yet, her chief concern was inequality - especially in terms of housing, not for herself, but the people suffering around her. Nobody feels good living in these extremes.
In your opinion, who are the ignored communities by your opponent?
As I meet voters in the district - many don't even realize Congressman Nadler is their representative. This goes to show there has been a lack of presence and leadership across the district. To underscore that, I spoke to a community member who is active in politics who told me the Congressman has been negligent in constituent services. And, the fact that Rep. Nadler's district is one of the most unequal districts in terms of wealth distribution says a lot.
Besides the experiences you’ve shared about your family members, what personal experiences of your own do you bring to the election table?
When I was six years old, my aunt came to live with us in Carlsbad, California. One morning, as I sat watching The Wizard of Oz, she walked through the house and went into the garage. There, she took her own life.
As a grieving child, I thought that being the last person to see my aunt meant, in some way, that this made her death my fault. My parents scraped together the money to send me to therapy. Through a combination of that mental health care and the support of my family, I eventually realized I was not responsible for what happened.
Most important: I also know it was not my aunt's fault. She needed professional help that she did not receive. She needed reassurance that she was not the only person who ever felt that way. She needed to know there was a way back to hope. But sadly, mental health is not viewed, or treated, with the same priority as physical health.
Given the extensive need and support, for an affordable mental health care solution, the fact that our government is so slow to make mental health care universally affordable and accessible is unacceptable. It is a crisis at the heart of why I am running for Congress.
For years, I kept my aunt's suicide a secret. Mental health and mental illness were topics I actively tried to avoid. But five years ago, all that changed after I gave birth to my daughter and experienced post-partum depression. My depression was intense and soul-crushing, yet I resisted reaching out for help. Eventually, it was too much to bear on my own. Thanks to work-sponsored health care access and an excellent therapist, I made it through my post-partum depression with my life intact.
As a mother, I want my daughter to grow up in a world where the mental health care that helped me is readily available for everyone, regardless of their employment or economic status. We cannot just wait for that to happen magically. We need to create a pathway to those solutions.
I believe the answer is a Medicare for All system where health care – including mental health care and addiction services – is a human right, not a privilege.
In the United States, everyone should be able to access affordable mental health care. Once that becomes our reality, we will not only change lives but save them.
I suspect that aspiring women chartering their own corporate or political campaigns are going to mark Lindsey Bolan's campaign as a referral note for what strong, capable female voices sound like. Women in grassroots politics is an international necessity which is why Lindsey Bolan's campaign requires our attention.