Candidate Profile: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

In New York’s 14th Congressional District, there is only one candidate standing up for the working and middle-class people of the Bronx and Queens. That candidate is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a lifelong Bronx native and working class New Yorker.

As an organizer, leader, and woman of Puerto Rican descent, Alexandria has helped women in developing countries start their own small businesses while training young Latino people to succeed in the business world. Now, she is challenging a 10-term incumbent Democrat, Joseph Crowley. Alexandria understands that NY-14 needs to be represented by someone who will prioritize them over the powerful special interests on Wall Street.

One of her key positions is fighting corruption and working for campaign finance reform. This is arguably the biggest issue. As long as elected officials can be bought, they can be influenced to vote against the needs of their constituency on a number of issues. Two of the most common examples include Big Pharma and the fossil fuel industry. Alexandria has pledged against taking money from the fossil fuel industry and will instead be beholden to the people of NY-14.

Democracy works best when it’s organized from the bottom-up, not dictated from the top-down. What makes grassroots enthusiasm extremely powerful is that it can’t be purchased or manufactured. -Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria supports a single-payer medicare-for-all system. Affordable healthcare is an issue that much of the developed world has solved decades ago. Why does the greatest, richest country in the world have such a low-ranked healthcare system? Alexandria will fight against the high cost of prescription drugs and the private insurance system that has taken advantage of so many Americans. Healthcare should not be a get-rich-quick scheme.

What else should not exist for profit? Criminal justice and the private prison industry. There should not be a financial incentive to lock people up and subject them to the abuses of prison labor, disproportionately affecting the African American, Hispanic, and Latino communities.

Finally, Alexandria supports a tuition-free public education for grades K-16 as well as universal preschool. As a college degree has become so necessary, so has the ability of our youth to receive that higher education regardless of income. Over the years, the cost of college has risen dramatically. We are perhaps the only developed nation that pays tens of thousands of dollars per year while our young people graduate in years of debt. Education is not a privilege, it is a necessity for a civilized, competitive society.

So what does this race look like? First of all, Joseph Crowley has represented this extremely diverse neighborhood for about 20 years. It is surprising how Crowley came to win in the first place, hand-picked by a candidate who dropped out with no time for a primary challenge. Of course, nearly any Democrat would win this district. Crowley and his family are also quite powerful in New York and part of the political establishment.

However, Alexandria’s campaign does not exist to divide Democrats up between the progressive and establishment wings. It is to bring people together and to create real change for the people of this country, a sentiment echoed from another native New Yorker, Senator Bernie Sanders. If someone has occupied the same office for 20 years, why shouldn’t the people have a choice for something different? Alexandria has not only seen the inequality of her district, she and her family have lived it.

The primary for NY-14 will occur on June 26th. To learn more about Alexandria, head over to her official campaign site and follow her on Twitter.