Steven Greenfield wants to tackle issues in Congress that most politicians aren’t talking about.
Greenfield, 57, is running for the 19th Congressional District seat on the Green Party line.
Born in the Bronx and growing up in Queens, Greenfield moved to New Paltz with his wife 18 years ago. They have three teenage daughters in ninth, 11th and 12th grades at New Paltz High School.
Greenfield has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University. He works as a musician, playing the saxophone and keyboards throughout the city and Hudson Valley.
He has also served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years, responding to more then 3,000 fires.
Greenfield has led a campaign, he said, on four major objectives: peace, poverty, climate change and education.
“When was the last time a [mainstream party] candidate actually used the word ‘poverty’ in their platform?” he said.
In 2016, 40.6 million people, or 12.7 percent of Americans, were in poverty, according to census.gov. Greenfield challenges other candidates and politicians to acknowledge the poverty issue exits.
Addressing the country’s poverty issue would address social services and justice burdens, among many others, he said.
“The best they want to talk to is the $12 minimum wage,” Greenfield said. “Ask them to address poverty, to address war, to endorse Medicare for all instead of this extremely expensive Obamacare plan.”
The New Paltz candidate supports Medicare for all. Between 16 to 20 percent of residents’ property taxes go to pay for the health care of public employees, Greenfield said, adding a single-payer health care system would change that and provide coverage to people who are self-employed and small-business owners.
“Medicare for all would be a bridge to the rest of what we need to have happening,” Greenfield said, adding it would fix the tax structure, replacing infrastructure, poverty and more.
Greenfield would fight for an aggressive timeline to convert the country’s power production systems to full renewable energy, he said, as well as free, public education.
“We had free higher education in this country during World War II when every penny we had went to stop fascism,” Greenfield said, adding U.S. Gross Domestic Product has tripled since then because of inflation, which could more than pay for a free education program.
Greenfield does not believe in gun control, he added, but firearm safety.
He believes in universal background checks and a mental health threat assessment system to prevent tragedies like mass shootings. Greenfield opposes high-capacity magazines over 30 rounds.
“I’m not interested in altering anyone’s cultural history or anyone’s ability to hunt or defend their homes or businesses,” he said. “I’m interested in firearm safety — public safety. Not gun control.”
Greenfield supports aggressively addressing climate change, especially to help farmers. Climate change is destroying many farmers’ ability to grow crops, which threatens this agricultural Congressional district.
“Democrats and Republicans are offering [farmers] increased subsidies for health insurance,” Greenfield said. “Farmers are acutely aware of climate change and they want to treat it like a crisis.
“Glaciers don’t have a party,” Greenfield added. “They don’t care if one side denies [climate change], they don’t care if you made a compromise for 40 years down the road. They’re melting now.”
Greenfield would also advocate for other environmental issues including fracking, which he said is causing seismic disturbance in the earth’s crust.
No one treats peace as an issue, Greenfield said, citing the country’s 17-year War in Afghanistan.
“It costs us $1 trillion a year,” he said, adding he does not support non-defensive warfare. “How can we convert to green energy and fix our education [system] if we’re a military-aggressive country?”
Tuesday’s race isn’t Greenfield’s first — he ran for the 22nd Congressional District seat in 2002 on the Green Party line, ran for a Ulster County Legislature seat twice representing New Paltz in 2003 and 2011, first on the Green Party line and then independently. He served two terms on the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education from 2008 to 2011, and 2014 to 2017.
He ran for a third term on the school board in 2017, but lost.
Running as a minor-party candidate makes Greenfield susceptible to hostile attacks from Democrats and Republicans, he said.
“I’ve actually gotten threats,” Greenfield said. “The right considers me a communist and the liberals consider me as the person taking votes away and keeping them from overcoming Trump.
“I’m talking about issues no major candidate talks about that are central to living.”
Democrats perpetuate the argument that third-party candidates spoil their election chances, which is a myth, Greenfield said.
“They spend millions of dollars a year with petitions to get them off the ballot,” he said. “...The hundreds of emails I get to cajole me to get off the ballot... It’s an extremely highly funded program and people like me are its only targets. I cannot steal a vote. My voters aren’t going to vote for Delgado or Faso no matter what.”
Voters won’t find anything in Delgado’s platform that they’ll find in Greenfield’s, he said.
“If just the Medicare-for-all and agreeing to not have any nondefensive wars were adopted by Antonio Delgado, 90 percent of the people to vote for me would for him instead,” Greenfield said. “It’s not about me — it’s about the policies.”
Most of the nation’s problems are caused by sending the wrong people to Capitol Hill, Greenfield said.
“We send corporate lawyers to Washington instead of economists,” he said. “It’s a really big deal. Delgado and Faso are both corporate lawyers — both lobbyists.”
Fifty percent of voters in the state’s 19th Congressional District don’t traditionally vote for Congress, Greenfield said, because Congress does not produce legislation effective for the common person.
For Greenfield, being bipartisan doesn’t cut it.
“I’m multi-partisan,” he said. “I utterly reject bipartisanship. It’s a slogan...defining for themselves what the term means that can’t produce results on the critical issues of the day. When the [mainstream parties] periodically compromise, that’s not a plus.”
People who are concerned about the country’s polarized political climate don’t have their priorities straight, Greenfield said.
“The climate that’s a critical issue today is the actual climate,” he said. “I don’t care if people yell at each other. If people aren’t into stopping war, poverty, climate change, the drug crisis... I generate the awareness that people want to vote on these things.”
Greenfield runs to shed light on issues that are often not discussed, but especially to appeal to nonvoters, he said.
“I want the nonvoters to know they should vote — that there are people who aren’t just ignoring them and that a new day is dawning,” Greenfield said. “The people who stopped voting stopped voting for a reason. I’m here, hopefully, to fill that void.”