Liuba Grechen Shirley: Democrat
This is a first political run for candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley, a resident of Amityville. However, it’s not her first time around the political area. “I’ve always been involved [in some way] with politics,” she said. In fact, some of her earliest memories are as a small child accompanying her mother to campaign offices and even attending a protest with her that was against the proposed Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant. It was an education that she said helped to prepare her for this endeavor.
Her first victory came earlier this year when she petitioned the Federal Election Commission and won the right to use federal campaign funds for childcare expenses while she was campaigning, setting a new precedent for all mothers interested in running for office. Her second victory came when she won a primary against DuWayne Gregory, the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. She’s hoping that streak will continue.
The lifelong Long Island resident has an MBA in economics and global development from New York University. She said she has worked to empower women and families in the United States and abroad. She’s worked with nonprofits, government and businesses to tackle issues such as health care, paid family leave and economic development. Her experience includes working for a number of nonprofits including the United Nations Foundation, and has led delegations to Washington, D.C., to lobby for stronger American leadership at the United Nations.
The busy, married mother of two said she entered the race for Congress in October 2017 because she was unhappy with her representation in government. “I’d had enough,” Grechen Shirley said, noting that she has disagreed with the voting practices of her opponent, who has been in office for the past 25 years. “Peter King has been in office since I was 12 years old,” she remarked during a recent telephone interview. “And he has voted with Trump 85 percent of the time.” She noted that his voting record has consistently been in opposition to the best interests of middle-class Long Islanders, labor and especially women.
“I couldn’t sit back and just watch anymore,” she added.
Grechen Shirley said that although she believes in term limits for representatives, she’s also concerned with how money is funding campaigns and is a strong proponent for finance reform. She noted that a lot of the money being funded to campaigns, including King’s, is from pharmaceutical and medical companies.
“Most of the bankruptcy [on Long Island] is a result of medical expenses,” she said. Grechen Shirley noted that while on the campaign trail, she has met people who have had a hard time paying for medical expenses and have had to choose between either buying food or medicine from week to week. It’s for that reason she would like to see improved and extended Medicare for all, something she said we are all paying for already in taxes.
She noted that the recent tax cuts in Washington really only benefited the wealthiest in the country. A progressive income tax and estate tax that would raise the taxes of the wealthiest Americans would benefit the majority of the population, which is the middle class and those in need by paying for the concept of universal medicine.
Grechen Shirley said she is not in favor of open borders, but is also not in favor of building a wall.
“We need strong borders with common sense,” she said, adding that better law enforcement and surveillance would help to control the flow of immigrants into the country.
“I don’t support abolishing ICE,” she said. “They have an important role.” However, Grechen Shirley said that agency would need to be reformed in how they deal with this population, such as the separation of children from parents at the border. “That’s against who we are as Americans,” she added.
She would like to see legislation in place that would also benefit those immigrants who are here in temporary protective status, including those who fall into the category of DACA. “There are 11 million undocumented immigrants living here and paying taxes. They need a path to citizenship,” she said. “These people are part of our communities.”
Grechen Shirley said if elected, she would focus on a number of issues that have resulted in many Long Islanders struggling just to get by, such as increased taxes and the cost of housing. “A lot of people I grew up with have already left Long Island,” she noted.
She said she’d work toward tax cuts for working Americans, more funding for public schools and she will focus on the serious issue of climate change, especially for Long Island coastal communities.
“It’s time [everyone] had a voice in Washington,” she said. “It’s time for a change.”
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