There is a Democrat, and then there is a Democrat “independent of the establishment.” This difference is what Congressional candidate Carl Achille said he is running on in the upcoming Democratic primary.
Achille, an NYPD detective and an Iraq War veteran, is running in the 5th Congressional District against long-time U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway).
“Our strategy is very simple,” said Achille with a blueberry bagel and a large cup of tea in front of him. “It’s meeting the people.”
The 34-year-old candidate is not the first primary opponent for Meeks, who captured 82 percent of the vote in the last Democratic primary. This does not faze Achille, who is confident of offering a fresh perspective on federal and local issues.
One example is terrorism. He cited the John F. Kennedy Airport as an example of a landmark in New York City that needs to be protected. He added the proposed hockey arena in Elmont for the New York Islanders is another risk that requires discussions on ensuring safety for all.
“I would be afraid, being where it’s positioned off the Cross Island Parkway and Hempstead Turnpike, I don’t believe at this time that we can protect that site in the current state they are trying to present to the community,” he said.
Other issues he is running on include a universal health care, stronger environmental protections, and expand transportation throughout the entire district. Achille spoke on affordability for small businesses and referred to the difficulties that owners encountered on the federal, state, and local level.
“We need to fund, fuel, and protect our small businesses. We have to hold the Small Business Administration accountable. They have to come out here and talk to the community,” he said.
The veteran also advocates for more resources for his fellow veterans. His platform includes offering co-op housing for veterans to ensure soldiers coming home “can get themselves housing.”
Achille referred to his time as a police officer to talk about crime in the district. The issue of gangs was one topic he would want addressed in neighborhoods around the district. He favored more resources to police departments as one solution.
“It’s not just MS-13. I know Donald Trump is using that an immigration-type issue. But there are street gangs that have been plaguing our communities for a long time,” he said.
If elected, Achille would favor joining both the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Committee on Homeland Security. He felt the expertise and knowledge he had over these topics would be helpful when overseeing such issues.
The conversation shifted to events in Washington. Achille said that President Donald Trump went “rogue,” yet was open to working with others to ensure constituent needs are met. He felt the current atmosphere in the capital is hurting residents across the country.
“Communities are suffering because politicians are playing defense and they don’t want to play ball because they’re angry,” said Achille. “The community suffers.”
With about a month remaining until the Democratic primary, Achille understood the hurdles and obstacles toward the nomination. Yet he looked forward to campaigning and offering a vision for the entire district.
“I’m not beholden to party bosses or special interest lobbyists. I’m an independent, free-forward thinking individual that will make decisions based on people in the district,” he said.
The Democratic primary is set for Tuesday, June 26.