Pascrell, a heavy re-election favorite, discusses wide range of issues in meeting with The Record


By Minjae Park

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. told The Record editorial board he would work on a host of issues — health care for veterans, Syria, the gender pay gap, corporate inversions and others — if reelected to a 10th term in November.

Pascrell, 77, a Paterson Democrat, said the excitement of being in Congress is “we deal with 30 issues every day.”

“You don’t know what the phone call is going to say,” he said.

In the meeting earlier this month, he also discussed local issues, including the Sept. 20 fatal shooting of Nazerah Bugg, a 14-year-old Paterson resident. Mayor Joey Torres had waited days before making any public statement. Pressed by a reporter about why his public comments were delayed, he later said, “Because I work for the public and not the press.”

Asked about the statement, Pascrell said, “That depressed me.” He cited instances when he responded to shootings as Paterson’s mayor — he served from 1990 to 1997 — by going to the neighborhoods where they occurred.

“You’ve got to be in the community every day,” he said. “Every mayor has tragedy that occurs in their term of office. You can hide under the desk or you can go out onto the street.”

He added, “I’m hesitant to speak out on the mayor’s issues, if you will, because I want that mayor to feel he’s the mayor and I’m not looking over his shoulder.”

Pascrell is the clear favorite to win in a district that was redrawn after the 2010 elections. The new boundaries pitted two longtime incumbent Democrats, Pascrell and Steve Rothman, against each other. Pascrell won the expensive, fiercely contested primary and cruised to reelection in November 2012 with 74 percent of the vote.

The 9th District consists of parts of Bergen County, from Cresskill to Fort Lee to Garfield; parts of Passaic County, including Paterson, Clifton and Passaic; and two Hudson County municipalities. “Seventy-five percent new,” Pascrell said, comparing it with his old district.

“It’s right down my alley,” he said. “It’s probably one of the top five diverse districts in the whole country. … I find the diversity exciting.”

Pascrell holds a wide fundraising lead over his Republican challenger, Dierdre Paul, a 49-year-old Montclair State University professor. In the third quarter, Pascrell raised $273,000 and spent $142,000, according to federal disclosures. He had $1.1 million on hand on Sept. 30. Paul raised $9,205 and spent $5,088 in the third quarter, disclosures show.

Paul criticized Pascrell as a “Washington insider” in her meeting with The Record editorial board last week.

In the editorial board meeting, Pascrell ran through a list of issues he hopes to work on if reelected: debating airstrikes in Iraq and Syria; reforming veterans’ health care; helping resolve the conflict in Ukraine; narrowing the gender pay gap; blocking privatization of Social Security and Medicare; and fighting against corporate off-shoring and inversions, a strategy companies use to reduce taxes.

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Posted October 23 2014 at 1:22 PM Permanent Link

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