Activist Jeremy Joseph, of Hicksville, says he wants to bring a focus to issues for a Democratic base that has been ignored or disengaged in recent elections as he bids for his party’s primary in New York’s 7th Senate District.
“We had both Democrats and Republicans almost campaigning on the same message,” Joseph said in an interview Thursday with Blank Slate Media. “As a result, we see the traditional Long Island moderate base come out while most young families, immigrant families, different people were not even part of the process.”
Joseph is running against incumbent state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary, who has been in her current role since 2018.
Joseph said he had been hopeful about Kaplan given her background and professed values to advocate for the district in Albany.
But, he said, she has not the senator he hoped she would be.
“Consistently, she has not been responsive and certainly not been supporting nearly every issue that most activists come to her with which includes a lot of major Democrat priorities,” Joseph said.
On police and bail reform, Joseph said it’s important to look at the data in order to address faults or inconsistencies within the system. He said nonviolent offenders, many black and brown, remaining behind bars because they could not afford to post bail for their arraignment.
“Cash bail creates two systems of law, the haves and have-nots,” Joseph said. This is a very fundamental American issue. It’s innocent until proven guilty, not innocent until proven guilty only if you have money.”
Joseph said he also supports the statewide ending of qualified immunity for police, which exempts them from being sued for wrongdoing in their official capacity.
Despite a rise in crime in recent years, Joseph said no correlation has been established with bail reform. He said crime is increased across the country for a multitude of factors in states with bail reform and without it.
Joseph is a political newcomer running for his first elected office. The Houston, Texas, native attended the University of Houston before earning a graduate degree from Penn State University in 2009 with a focus in applied physics.
Professionally, Joseph works for an artificial intelligence software company working on algorithms and math modeling, among other things. Previously, he did ocean modeling and physics simulations for government labs and defense contractors.
Joseph said that he supports current bills in the Legislature to promote gun safety but wants more to be done to find the root causes of violence, extremism and hate.
Joseph alluded to the April mass shooting in Buffalo, where 18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly live-streamed a deadly attack at a Tops Friendly Markets store, killing 10 black people and injuring three others.
He said more needs to be done including a state ban of assault weapons.
Increasing access to reproductive health would be a focus for Joseph if elected. He said he would eliminate the barriers for the most vulnerable members of the community including undocumented women from getting an abortion by providing state coverage of the procedure.
“We kind of skip over the fact that most vulnerable people often have the least or no access to abortion services,” Joseph said. “To them, abortion is a right in theory only if you can’t pay for an abortion, or have no health care because you’re undocumented, then you are left on the outside.”
Joseph said would also advocate for establishing a public health system in the state through the passage of the New York Health Act, a bill currently in state legislature that he said has enough co-sponsors to pass.
“The private insurance industry is a middle man that just inflates cost,” Joseph said.
Funding for the system would come from increased income taxes but relief for working and middle-class families would still come through reworking the income tax code and taxing the 1% their fair, Joseph said.
Joseph said the state is underfunded and to compensate for that homeowners are paying premiums on their property taxes to close the discrepancy.
When the 7th Senate District heads to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Joseph wants voters to know he sees the district as the one that should be leading from the front.
“District 7 we’re North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Hempstead,” Joseph said. “We should be leading the conversations on how to move New York forward instead of being in the backseat, or worse, not being anywhere near the decision making.”
Joseph’s interview with Blank Slate Media can be found on YouTube.