We don’t do enough listening


To the editor:

(re: “Engel’s record speaks quite loudly,” June 14)

I appreciate the chance to respond to Mr. Charles Moerdler’s June 15 letter about my race to represent the 16th Congressional district.

The letter was quite simply a personal attack on me. I am mounting the first serious challenge to Mr. Engel in almost two decades in order to have a discussion on the issues, and on Eliot Engel’s 30-year record in Congress. Isn’t that what our democracy should be all about?

Disappointingly, Mr. Moerdler and Mr. Engel don’t think so, turning instead to falsified character attacks.

In his letter, Mr. Moerdler characterizes me as “a hedge fund executive with money, but not qualifying credentials.” He also says, “One of Mr. Lewis’ few public and published utterances prior to becoming an essentially self-funded candidate was to equate Donald Trump with Robert Kennedy, terming the late Sen. Kennedy ‘a disruptor’ in a speech before the Annual Investment Outlook 2017 luncheon of the Empire Club.”

Second point, first. Mr. Moerdler has distorted my comments about the 1960 and 2016 presidential elections where, as a businessman and Yale University-published historian, I cited two candidates who used media in disruptive ways (John F. Kennedy using television, Donald Trump using Twitter).

Mr. Moerdler couldn’t even get those facts straight, citing Bobby Kennedy when I was talking about Jack. And he’s plainly counting on readers not to take the time to watch the speech itself, which is easily viewed online.

I am neither a hedge fund manager nor do I lack qualifications to be a Congressional representative. I co-founded a traditional money manager of municipal bonds (as The New York Times noted last Friday), bonds that finance needed U.S. infrastructure. As a financial expert, I have been quoted by media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, and Bloomberg News — again, easy to find.

Having financial expertise well-qualifies me to be in Congress, given the importance of the economy and the need to fight Trump’s economic policies.

I am also a community volunteer with deep and varied life experience, having held positions including trustee of the Scarsdale Board of Education, trustee of the American Jewish Historical Society, trustee of Yonkers Partners in Education, and president of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation of Westchester.

I can bring to Congress independent thinking.

And I am for campaign finance reform, and have criticized Congressman Engel for his acceptance of corporate PAC money — a worthy subject for debate that Eliot Engel doesn’t want us to have.

As anyone can learn from the public information available to me, I have had a long and visible career in business, policy, national security and nonprofit work. Why can’t Congressman Engel and cronies like Mr. Moerdler stand a serious discussion of the issues, instead of flinging falsehoods?

If a long-term incumbent like Eliot Engel can’t accept thoughtful questioning of his record, as I have offered, what are we coming to as a Democratic Party?

Which is my point exactly, and why I am running.

Jonathan Lewis

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was submitted after our submission deadline for consideration in the June 21 issue. However, because our next issue publishes after the primary election involving Eliot Engel’s seat, this letter has been published online first at RiverdalePress.com, and in print June 28.

Jonathan Lewis