NEW YORK - New York's 11th Congressional District, which former President Donald Trump won by over 7 points, is tough territory for Democratic candidates but that isn't deterring Max Rose from running again on a platform that doesn't always align with his party's current mainstream.
"The problems right now and the issues at stake — from a woman's right to make decisions about her own reproductive health to actually having a real strategy and plan to address inflation and public safety — that's what matters to me right now," Rose explained.
Rose was elected to represent NY-11, which covers all of Staten Island and a small part of Brooklyn, in 2018 but lost to Republican Nicole Malliotakis two years later. The seat is very important in the fight for the balance of power in Congress in these midterms.
He is a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. He also worked in the Biden administration as the senior advisor on COVID to the secretary of defense.
Now Rose is back in his hometown, running again for Congress in a rematch against Malliotakis, this time with a message.
CRIME, BAIL REFORM AND MENTAL HEALTH
With crime rates spiking, he said that the solution is investing in police officers and giving judges the discretion to set higher bail on people they believe to be dangerous.
"What's happening in New York City right now is this culture and this state of criminal recidivism," Rose said. "When people commit low-level crimes, they know that they're going to be back out in the streets the next day. We need to have judicial discretion."
Rose also said that more needs to be done to help people struggling with mental illness in order to help subway riders feel safer. He said he supports strengthening Kendra's law, which allows people to be committed involuntarily, and creating more inpatient facilities. He also believes a federal movement needs to address mental health.
"We need a national mental health strategy here and tied into that would be a strategy to end homelessness, tied into that would be a strategy to improve public safety," Rose said. "But it all begins with mental health."
The 11th district is made up of many working-class New Yorkers. Countless firefighters, police officers and more call Staten Island home. Rose said he wants to see these first responders receive a pay boost.
"They're put in awful situations on a daily basis where we expect for them to succeed but don't give them the resources to do so," Rose said. "It's one of the reasons why at the height of COVID I thought it was the right thing to do for the federal government to get millions and billions of dollars to New York City so we didn't fire cops, teachers and firefighters."
MIGRANTS IN NYC
In recent months, the number of asylum seekers flooding onto Staten Island has grown and some hotels have been turned into shelters to help house these migrants. We asked Rose three times if he would support or oppose more migrant shelters in his district. In each answer, Rose sidestepped the question.
"This is a bipartisan failure that they are handling this right now with an absence of resources to support the state and local government and in absence of comprehensive immigration reform. That's the tragedy," Rose said. "Certainly I'm not for people sleeping on the street. But in the absence of a coherent federal strategy, then then we can't just continue to deal with this in isolated cases."
Rose placed the blame for the immigration crisis at President Joe Biden's feet.
NEW BLOOD IN WASHINGTON
Rose is also calling for a change to the top of the presidential ticket in 2024, saying it's time for a new generation of leadership.
"We need a new generation of leadership — I don't want Donald Trump to run, I don't want Joe Biden to run," Rose said. "But let's make something clear beyond that point. I think the problems that we are facing right now and the division and the vitriol with this country is being ripped apart. It would be a significant plus for us to have new leadership across the board."
Biden is 79, Trump is 76, and Rose is 35. The average age of members of the House is 58.
Early voting in New York starts on Saturday.