An Interview with David (Dovid) Hirsch, the Republican and Conservative Party Candidate
A great, hard hitting independent interview from writer Abe Fuchs
Interviewed by: Abe Fuchs
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Hillcrest but as an adult I have lived in Kew Gardens Hills, though my grandparents were long time K.G.H. Residents and were members of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.
What colleges and yeshivos did you go to?
For elementary school, I first went to Yeshiva Tiferes Moshe, but from 4th grade on, I went to Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island, where there were a lot of Queens kids, including manyothers in my class; Duvie Shafran, Nashi Neuman, Y.Y. Weiner, Tzvi Rosenshein, Menachem Kleinkaufman, Nechemia Bochner, Avi Zakutinsky and Ari Goldman.
For high school, I went to Mesivta Yesodei Yeshurun, and for first two years of Beis Medrash I went to Yeshivas Derech Chaim, before coming back to K.G.H. to join Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, where I learned for many years, including receiving s'michah in 2019. My Rosh HaYeshivah, Rabbi Doniel Lander, is whom I ask my sheilos to when they arise.
In 2011, I graduated from Kew Gardens Hills' own Queens College with a bachelors in History with Departmental Honors and was accepted to the National History Honors Society also known as the Phi-Alpha-Theta Society. I later went back to Queens College and received a Masters Degree in History in 2015. I completed my college education while learning in Ohr Hachaim. What have you done professionally?
I have done work as a consultant in Public Policy, focusing on Education Policy, as a consultant over the past year. I have also consulted for political campaigns. Additionally, I have presented at two international conferences, and moderated seven panels at international conferences.
Why are you running for the 27th Assembly district seat?
I have been involved in local Republican politics since 2011, and since 2019 I have served on the County Committee. When it was announced that former Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal would be stepping down, many people in our community approached me, suggesting I run.
I feel our community needs a strong voice, and one that will stand up to the far left that is running the Democratic Party. Electing another Democrat, will allow the Democrat Party to keep relatively ignoring our community and throw a little money our way to keep us happy, while pushing progressive politics. Electing a Republican will send a message to the Democrats that we are not happy with their agenda. Former Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal recommended Sam Berger to be his successor. We were happy with Dan Rosenthal; don’t you think we will be just as happy with Sam Berger?
Some people were happy with Rosenthal, most were apathetic, and many people had issues with many of his left-wing votes on social issues when he voted party line. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said at my opponent's fundraiser that Rosenthal could always be counted on to be a teamplayer when needed. With the exceptions of a few votes, Rosenthal tended to vote party line.
Further, Sam Berger told Hamodia that he was “committed to representing the values of the Democratic Party”, and in his materials has already pledged to several progressive policies. After his Hamodia comments, my opponent held a fundraiser with the architect of cashless bail and many of New York's radical progressive transgender laws for minors like Assembly Bill 6046-B, a bill that is terrifying for parental rights and religious people like our community.
Not to mention that my opponent praised and proudly accepted the endorsement and support of State Senator Toby Ann Stavitsky, the same person who tried to get YU's government funding cut off because Yeshiva University didn't want to fund a LGBTQ+ club.
The Democratic Party has a supermajority in the Assembly. If you won, you would bring in less money for yeshivos and shuls and have less influence on other Assemblymembers than a Democrat. The Democratic leadership would have no respect for you and they could dump on your/our district what others don’t want in theirs. You saw what happened to Assemblyman Ari Brown in the Five Towns. He got stuck with a power plant in his district because he is a Republican. They could do the same to you.
First, let's address something here. The Democrats have a two seat supermajority, if this one is flipped, it becomes one, and several moderate Democrats have expressed interest in breaking the supermajority. So if I win, within a short period, the supermajority will likely be broken, weakening the progressives.
Second, the claim that a Republican would bring in less money is more of a myth, designed to scare voters into voting Democrat. It is how they took a small majority to supermajority. The Five Towns, under Brown, had nearly the same amount of funds as before, with improvements to libraries, parks, and increased security. Look at Assemblymembers Lester Chang or Misha Novakhov in Brooklyn who flipped seats, their areas have essentially the same funding as previously.
The Democrats legally cannot remove most of the funding for a district, and if they punished a district for voting a certain way, the political scandal would make national news. It is a scare tactic developed by the AOC wing of the Democrat Party.
As to the power plant, it is just Wind Turbines off the coast, and was in the works for years, and had the support to pass before that election. In fact it affects several districts, not just Brown's, and it's still not for sure happening.
A local example is the Kew Gardens prison that is being built, with the mental hospital for the NYC prison system. We had all Democrats elected, the community united against it, and we got it forced on us because the political powers at Democrat Party already had made up their mind. So, look at where electing Democrats got us with a major prison complex being erected right off of Union Turnpike near Queens Boulevard just next door to our community. It is the same thing with the turbines in the Five Towns area. What overriding contributions would you have to offer to overcome the disadvantage of not being of the same party as the majority?
I offer that my door will always be open to the community to hear people's issues and complaints, to represent the values of our community, and to ensure those values are given a voice. The community also will not have to worry about me compromising with the progressives on their agenda, in the fashion of most moderate Democrats.
Also, being in the minority party gives a lot of negotiation leverage with a majority party that is desperate to try and claim they aren't run by single party rule, despite most bills passing with only Democrat votes. A lone freshman Democrat actually has less power, because their party doesn't need them for most votes, and can just throw a few minor items their way while otherwise ignoring them. I have spoken multiple times with Republican Assembly Leader Will Barclay and I am sure political deals can be worked out that benefit our district in cross isle negotiations under his auspices and guidance. Leader Barclay is a very sharp and savvy politician, who cares a lot for our State, and has expressed a great deal of interest in Queens.
What do you consider the three big issues that are important to our community and to your district?
The first issue is the rise in crime locally due to many Democrat policies in Albany. We need policies that put communities first, not criminals. Repeal cashless bail and replace it with proportionate bail, restore all funding to police, improve outdoor lighting at night, and make tougher sentences for hate crimes where we have seen a rise in attacks on Jews and Asians with the perpetrators getting minor sentences. We need much stricter punishments for beating up Jews and Asians.
Second is protecting parental rights in education. For the Jewish community that means protecting yeshivahs from the overreach of the State government which is trying to assert itself in yeshivah education, curriculum, and management. When it comes to public schools we need more options for parents, as well as protecting Special and Gifted programs, and preserving the SHSAT entrance exams for the elite public high schools, something my opponent put on his mailers that he is against, using the progressive term “protect access to specialized schools,” that means racially proportional with lottery access and no exams rather than merit based. This has been condemned by Asian groups as essentially legalizing racial discrimination against them, because as of 2020 they were 62% of students in those schools, and this would gut their numbers from the elite schools. It is a progressive form of affirmative action, it is a policy of the radical left, and it essentially eliminates the Special and Gifted programs and Specialized High Schools by making placement random. This is the wrong way to go about public education, and the progressive agenda is not correct.
Third, would be stopping the government from placing migrant camps in local communities without consent of people or their input. In fact, there are migrant facilities in our district and right nearby, with more planned. These are placed in our neighborhoods without consent of the community. The Democrats in Albany and City Hall don't care where they put them, as long as it is out of sight and out of mind. Getting stuck with people in our neighborhoods and having no clue who they are is a major public safety issue, in addition to the cost of what Albany claims will be $12 billion by year's end. I stand by having no migrant shelters in our community without our consent and permission, and put a stop to the current ruckus.
What would you do about the crime problem that your opponent would not? Hochul has made modifications to the no-cash bail law. Has the criminal justice system been toughened up already?
A few minor tweaks while leaving the bulk of the pro-criminal legislation in place is not fixing much or toughening up the criminal justice system. As long as the current progressive power-structure rules the Democrat Party, nothing will change, we need to send out this message.
We need massive wholesale reform to the system. A full repeal of cashless bail and making a system where the bail is proportional to the crime and number of offenses, and after a set number of offenses, lose access to bail. We need to fully fund and back all law enforcement and provide them with the latest and best equipment to do their jobs while providing more funds to the Community Affairs bureau to build relationships between police and their communities.
We need to stop the progressive “clean slate” act which will prevent communities from knowing about many dangerous criminals in our neighborhoods under misguided progressive ideology, something Rosenthal voted for.
What would you do to combat antisemitism?
I would support a full investigation into antisemitism at CUNY. Jewish Students have come to face a hostile environment under Chancellor Rodriguez. Jewish professors are put under investigation for speaking up against these incidents. The Diversity Officer Rodriguez installed at CUNY cleared the university of antisemitism in her investigations and is persecuting Jewish faculty who complained, and is a former CAIR official that once distanced themselves from her antisemitism. That should tell you simply how antisemitic she is. Rodriguez has a raging Jew hater investigating antisemitism and persecuting Jews who dare to speak up for themselves. We need a full investigation into CUNY. I also would also stand against minimum sentences for violent hate crimes so Democrat District Attorney's cannot give sweetheart deals to people who beat up Jews. Do you think that there will ever be a day that parents of private school children could get education vouchers or partial vouchers from the State?
The issue with vouchers is the Blaine Amendment, (a New York State law that bans the state government from giving out education vouchers) which aside from its history of being rooted in racism and bigotry, would take too long to remove. What people forget is that 32 states operate some form of school choice programs, and there are four types of programs, other than vouchers, that are in use in many of these states. We need to focus less on vouchers, and more on what options can be done within New York's legal framework with the other types of programs like Tax Credit Scholarships, which are used in 22 states already, or ESA's, and Individual Tax Credits and Deductions programs. I am a big fan of Tax Credit Scholarships, and have even discussed how they operate with prominent people in the education world, including ones who manage such programs. People tend to focus on one of two ideas of what school choice is, when there is actually a diverse range of options out there being done successfully in many states. It's finding the right solution for New York from these options or a combination of them, that can succeed. In fact many states operate two or three types of programs in a balance.
Do you think public school children are taught enough civics, American history, and world history? Depending on how you define “enough,” if you go by pure course hours, then they are taught enough history, if you go by quality of the curriculum, I would say no. The amount of errors, misleading claims, and even things that are factually incorrect in books used in schools, is appalling. I think the history curriculum in New York needs serious reform.
As to civics, no. The sheer number of New York students who don't understand the U.S. Constitution, the basics of our Republic, the three branches of government, and more is shocking. And the fault is in it not being taught enough or properly. However, given how poor performing in math and English New York public school students are, especially in New York City, I would say we have some bigger issues to deal with first.
What do you think of social/emotional learning - the kind that used to be taught with character development as a foundation - to be mandated in public schools?
I think there is some value to such a foundation, but it has to be done in the right way, without inserting progressive politics. But, learning social skills, character building, and more are important in childhood development. Do you think there is a relationship between Progressives’ narrative of Israel being racist and apartheid and public school students’ ignorance of history?
Very much so, and that is how the progressives operate. They rely on ignorance of history and ignorance on what apartheid really is to push their hateful message. We need better education on the history of the Middle East, history of Jews, and history of Israel and Zionism. We also need to prevent the radical left's materials from entering public schools which teach these lies about Israel. What do you think of Rosenthal endorsing Kathy Hochul for governor? What do you think of Governor Hochul? Any thoughts about the way she handled the upstate snowstorm?
Well Dan was an elected Democrat who rarely broke party lines, so of course he endorsed her.
What do I think of her? As Democrats go, she isn't as bad as Cuomo, but she signs off on all the far left-policies, has refused to help yeshivahs against the Board of Regents, and has been abysmal for religious rights. Not to mention her actions as Cuomo's right hand during COVID when our neighborhood was targeted for a red zone. She is not a governor I support, but she is our duly elected governor and someone we must work with.
As to the snowstorm, she reacted very late, which led to many deaths, though once she reacted things went decently. She also refused to put in a regional travel ban right before the storm, despite the weather reports, something else that cost lives. Also, she activated the National Guard too late, rather than have them ready to go immediately. It could have been worse, but she reacted poorly, responded slowly, and people died as a result. Given power outages and how many people only survived because they had gas heat and gas stoves, her current anti-gas pro-all-electric policies, we know in the future if this happens her policies may lead to devastation when the power goes out. What do you think of the New York State budget? Are we in good shape? Where do you think spending should be cut?
Our budget is too bloated, and full of waste and graft, we can run the state on less than $229 billion if we fixed the system rather than throw more money at it. We are not in good shape overall, because we focus on spending more rather than fixing inefficiencies and waste in the system, which would allow the State to run better on less money. This spending spree requires the state to either raise taxes on the middle class, or borrow lots of money. Hochul and the Democratic Party leadership would rather tax and borrow rather than fix the system because so many of their donors profit off of the system.
As to cuts, I think we have reached a point where a few cuts here or there won't fix anything, we need to become fiscally disciplined using a base-zero budget plan, and rooting out wastes and inefficiencies in the system. Essentially wholesale reform of how we budget and spend in Albany. It isn't hard, other states have done it, we just need people to want it more than the special interests against these ideas.
What do you think of congestion pricing?
I am 100% against it. The state is doing this to make up the deficits in the MTA which comes from a mix of fare jumpers they don't enforce, and waste on the management level. This is an unfair tax on people who need to drive into work from Queens, Long Island, or north of the City. Do you have an emotional connection to Israel?
Yes, very much so. I have been to Israel multiple times, the last time was in 2019. I love Eretz Yisrael, and wish I could be there more often. My late grandfather, Hillel raised a lot of money for Eretz Yisrael, both for the State and for yeshivahs like Lomza Yeshiva, throughout his lifetime. He even spearheaded a project with Histadrut to transport sifrei Torah from shuls in America that shut down, to go to Israel. He had a big love for Israel. My mother when she was younger lived for two years in Israel, and my father studied in the Chevron Yeshiva, and Brisk. They instilled in me a love for Israel and I was raised with this love and connection to Israel and the land that I still hold dear. And like everyone Jewish, I have family there too. Why should we vote for a Republican - weren’t Jews always more comfortable and better taken care of by the Democrat Party?
Says who? I think such a claim that Jews were better off with Democrats is subjective. But also would you say today's progressive agenda has anything in our interest? Jews voted like many immigrant groups back then for the Democrats because they claimed they would help. My great-grandmother was a proud Republican, because she didn't buy into that line, and many others haven't since. The Republican Party was co-founded by Jews. Jews have been in high positions at every point in the Party's history, and still do today. I would say it's time for Jews to break with the Democratic Party, and as we see with voting in recent years, many, especially Orthodox Jews, are doing so. We are voting for our community and our values, which is not something the modern Democratic Party represents in any way, and we need someone who can stand up against that, which is only a Republican. Do you have any parting words?
Remember to vote. It doesn't matter if you vote early after September 2, on Election Day Sept 12, or by absentee which you can request before August 28. Just come out and vote for our community and our values.