We have not abandoned Riverdale — We are right here


(re: “So, has Bowman abandoned Riverdale?” Oct. 21)

It’s been my distinct honor to represent the 16th Congressional District — a beautiful and diverse community which includes Riverdale — since I was elected to Congress nearly a year ago.

Through the challenges of the past year — including a devastating pandemic, economic crisis, insurrection, climate disasters and more — my office has taken our responsibility as representatives of this district very seriously, and we’ve done everything we can to support our community, both in-person and virtually.

This is why it was incredibly disappointing to see the recent story in The Riverdale Press, which incorrectly implies that we have “abandoned” this great community. Through the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve maintained strong presence and constituent services in Riverdale, albeit virtually.

In 10 months of office, we’ve successfully closed nearly 300 constituent cases and 308 phone calls just in Riverdale. In the last 15 days alone, we wrote letters back to 900 constituents who corresponded with our office. It’s our top priority to ensure that all constituents can connect with us and receive assistance on everything from passport issues, veteran benefits, Medicaid, Social Security, questions about federal legislation, and much more.

This is why we’ve held mobile constituent services many times throughout the neighborhood. Now that it is relatively safe to take service to our constituents in-person, we are proud to announce that we are opening a satellite office through a partnership with the Riverdale Library.

While much of my time must be spent in Washington fighting to pass transformative legislation for our community — such as the Build Back Better Act — I cherish the time I’m able to spend in the district and meet with people directly. It is an immense joy to participate in the diversity and beauty of the Riverdale community.

I’ve had the opportunity to partner with Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Riverdale on issues of interest, especially immigration. We celebrated Juneteenth in Van Cortlandt Park. Students at SAR Academy met with me and amazed me with their promise. And I’ve attended and met with many civic hubs, such as the community board, the Fieldston Property Owners Association, and canvassing with organizers against hatred that we saw in our community.

In addition to strong constituent services and presence in our Riverdale neighborhood, our legislative team works to be responsive to the issues that were raised in our office where a federal nexus allows us to take action. Two examples are instances where we wrote a joint letter to the comptroller of the currency to elevate the issue of the Chase Bank closure in Knolls Crescent. We also wrote letters to federal authorities on the mail delays at the U.S. Postal Service. As a result, the post office hired more staff members.

We also applied for — and passed — $2.3 million out of the U.S. House in member-designated project funds for SAR Academy’s transportation repairs. While the U.S. Senate ultimately stripped the funds, we plan to continue to ensure the community sees targeted investments.

I’m incredibly proud of our constituent service team’s responsiveness and professionalism, which has allowed us to address more than 1,700 cases this year, as well as responding to tens of thousands of phone calls, emails, and pieces of mail. If someone is looking for assistance, I encourage them to reach out to us at bowman.casework@mail.house.gov, or at (718) 530-7710.

As vaccination rates increase and COVID-19 waves recede, we’re incredibly excited that we’ve been able to host in-person meetings once again at our office, in addition to ramping up our mobile constituent services and establishing a satellite location soon. We strongly encourage constituents to schedule an in-person appointment by calling (718) 530-7710.

However, we have not turned anyone away who has come to our office without notice. Our offices — as they have always been — are reachable by phone from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. And those who have worked with my team probably know they go above and beyond to serve this community outside of business hours.

Regardless of whether I’m required in Washington or here in the district, my staff is always working to serve constituents and represent me at events across the district. A member of our constituent services team, Jesse Lerer, is focused specifically on the Riverdale area, and can be reached at jesse.lerer@mail.house.gov.

I encourage everyone to sign up for our newsletter at bowman.press@mail.house.gov to receive updates on what we’ve been working on, and what mobile constituent services will be in their area.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office. It’s my honor to serve this community, and I look forward to many more productive conversations on how we can support our neighbors best.

Peace and love.

The author is the representative for New York’s 16th Congressional District, covering parts of the northern Bronx and Westchester County.

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Jamaal Bowman,