Patch

Candidate Profile: Evelyn Farkas For Congress

Thursday, June 11, 2020

HUDSON VALLEY, NY - New Yorkers will be hitting the polls on June 23 for the primary election to choose which representatives will be running will be on the ballot for the general election in November.

Among the local races, some residents of the Hudson Valley will choose who will run for Congressional District 17 on the Democratic line. Longtime Rep. Nita Lowey is retiring at the end of the term. The district covers Rockland County and most of Westchester.

In anticipation of the election, Patch asked candidates in the contested races to answer questions about their campaigns and will be publishing candidate profiles as election day draws near.

Evelyn Farkas is seeking the Democratic line on the ballot in November. Her opponents in the June 23 Democratic primary are Mondaire Jones, Adam P. Schleifer, Allison H. Fine, Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, David Buchwald and David Carlucci.

She may be a first-time candidate for elected office, but Farkas has extensive experience in Washington D.C., having served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia under President Barack Obama. Her sister has worked for almost two decades in national security.

The 52-year-old graduated from Horace Greeley High School and Franklin & Marshall College. She is currently on the college's board of directors. She received an M.A.L.D. in 1995 and a PhD in 1999 from Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Her extensive CV includes:

  • NBC Universal National Security Contributor (2016-2019)
  • Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund (2018-2019)
  • Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council (2016-2018)
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, & Eurasia (2012-2015)
  • Senior Advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. European Command (2010-2012)
  • Senior Fellow at the American Security Project (2009-2010)
  • Executive Director, Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism (2008-2009)
  • Professional Staff Member, United States Senate Armed Services Committee (2001-2008)
  • Associate Professor of International Relations, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University (1997-2001)

Check out Patch's full Q&A with Evelyn Farkas:

Why are you seeking elective office?

I am running because I have the experience, judgment and determination to best represent the people of New York's 17th Congressional District. I am running to defend the American Dream: our political freedoms and economic opportunity. This is personal; my parents came to this country as refugees, fleeing Communist Hungary. They took odd jobs, spoke little English and moved to Westchester in 1968 when my father was hired as Library Director in Briarcliff. I learned English in kindergarten and worked hard to contribute income and help raise my sisters in a family that struggled to make ends meet. My mother worked three jobs as a hospital pharmacist in Westchester to put me through college, and I still had debt that took me 20 years to pay off. But I went on to earn a doctorate and represent our nation around the world, culminating in my last position as President Obama's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.

For my entire adult life, I have served our country with pride while defending American values and human rights. With the election of Donald Trump, the Republican assault on our liberties, and the growing challenges facing our nation, from income inequality to climate change, members of my community convinced me to serve my country in a new way — by running to represent the people of my hometown district in Congress. I spent my career serving America standing up to bullies, from Trump to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. I am running to represent all of us because I know that I can deliver results for our community from day one, through whatever lies ahead.

The single most pressing issue facing our nation/state/community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.

Economic opportunity — With our economy in free fall and millions of Americans out of work and forced to stay home for public safety, Congress must continue no-strings-attached stimulus payments to keep Americans afloat and continued no-interest and forgivable loan programs to keep small businesses running. When the immediate health crisis ends, we may find ourselves in the midst of an economic depression. Thankfully, we know what we must do: FDR's New Deal helped put America back to work nearly a century ago, and today, a Green New Deal can do the same. The federal government will need to put millions of people to work building the sustainable energy, transportation, and housing infrastructure to support future generations. We must increase the minimum wage to $15 nationally, and index it to inflation and the cost of living, and we need to pass protections that will allow all workers, from agricultural laborers to gig-economy "contractors" to unionize and bargain collectively.

What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?

I am the only candidate in this race with the relevant federal experience to deliver results for this district on day one.

I am the only candidate in this race who has already drafted and helped pass legislation in Congress (for seven years). I know how to get things done in Washington D.C., especially in times of crisis, because I have done it, including from the White House Situation Room with President Obama. Our next representative will need to go to Washington and get to work immediately to secure funding to support our district through this crisis and the economic recovery to come. I am the only candidate intimately familiar with federal appropriations—I know how to effectively fight for funding through the complicated appropriations process. I did exactly this for years while drafting legislation that authorized hundreds of billions of dollars while working as a senior staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee (I was responsible for over $20 billion). I have been endorsed by Secretaries of State and Defense, President Obama's Chief of Staff, and almost a dozen current Members of Congress because I have proven through my career serving America at the federal level that I have the intelligence, expertise, judgment and empathy to deliver for the American people.

As the child of refugees, I know that diversity is America's strength. As someone who grew up in a family struggling to make ends meet, who had to work as soon as I could to help support the family income, and took on college debt to support my education, which I needed the help of the federal government to pay it off, I know what it means to need a helping hand from the federal government to achieve the American Dream.

I am also the only candidate in this race with a history of standing up and fighting back against those who threaten America's values—whether they be foreign dictators or Trump's Republican cronies. I was one of the first to blow the whistle on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Though Trump's administration, and their allies on Capitol Hill who forced me to testify to the House Intelligence Committee, tried to silence me, I continued to fight for the truth. In these dark days for our democracy, I am best prepared to defend our democracy in Congress because I am the only candidate that has done it before.

Finally, I'm 52 years old; I'm done building my resume; this is a mission for me, an extension of my appreciation for our country and fierce determination to work to ensure it lives up to our highest expectations.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?

From 2001 to 2008, I played a key role in drafting and passing some of the most consequential legislation to fund our nation's military as well as critical research and health initiatives that benefit not only all Americans, but also our friends and allies around the world. I know that I am ready to legislate in Congress because I have done it.

I was also responsible for getting membership for Montenegro into the NSC and NATO Council for a vote. Navigating domestic and foreign opposition, I was able to shepherd this initiative for American and transatlantic security through multiple layers of federal and international bureaucracy, demonstrating the organizational effectiveness our next representative will need to deliver for our community in the Congressional authorization and appropriations process. I've managed international crises like Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the White House Situation Room, the response to national tragedies such as 9/11 on Capitol Hill, and ran the Pelosi-created Commissin on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, which warned about biological threats, including pandemics. I have the experience, and the judgment honed by that experience to handle the job of representing this district in Congress.

Campaign website: https://evelynforny.com/