With the eyes of the nation focused on the presidential election, residents of Westchester are closely watching another race a little closer to home. Republican Julie Killian, Deputy Mayor of the city of Rye, is challenging incumbent George Latimer for his seat in the New York State Senate.
Anti-Semitism, BDS, corruption in Albany, state aid to Westchester schools - these are among the top issues that Killian intends to address if elected. However, when asked which would be her focus on November 9, Killian did not hesitate. “Term limits,” she responded. “New York would be in a very different place today if term limits were in place years ago. Term limits would have made it harder for politicians to be corrupt.”
She continued, “We need to end the corruption. New York should take away the pensions of those politicians who have been convicted of crimes. Campaign funds must not be used to pay legal fees nor to compensate victims. We need ethics reforms and deterrents to corruption.”
It was January 22, 2015, when Killian decided to enter the state Senate race. That was the day Sheldon Silver was arrested and the moment when, in Killian’s words, “I couldn’t take it anymore, the corruption, the old boys’ network. Shelly’s iron grip in Albany was no longer there and finally there was hope for change.” Killian believed she should be the one to effect that change.
Killian said that her next-biggest issue would be school aid and education issues. “Westchester is currently discriminated against by Albany. We need more school aid. Even if kids are not in the public schools, everyone pays property taxes, and more aid to the schools would lower taxes,” she noted.
She then switched gears and discussed the subjects of anti-Semitism and Israel. “How our country can not support our greatest ally, and the only democratic nation, in the Middle East is unbelievable to me. It’s just unreal.”
“I chose to go to Israel for my 50th birthday and was so inspired. I still miss the hummus,” she quipped.
Continuing, Killian said, “The BDS movement is so wrong. That anybody can malign any religious group is horrible. What Jews and Israel have given to our country and the world is pretty amazing. The health advances, the technology. Just so many contributions. If you boycott Israel, you are boycotting pretty much everything.”
“The rising anti-Semitism on college campuses and in Europe upsets me greatly. It’s just terrible,” she added.
Noting that New York’s anti-BDS legislation has not yet passed in the State Assembly, Killian stressed the importance of getting more Republicans elected to the state Senate to provide support for this important legislation. “We need to do more,” she said. She believes that being a state senator will give her more of a platform to “be more out there” about “outrages” such as this.
Killian then discussed another issue close to her heart: support for individuals, particularly children, with disabilities. “New York State has gone backwards on that,” she said. “It’s harder to get things covered now.”
“There is too much bureaucracy,” she continued. “Time that should be spent on the kids is spent on paperwork.”
Killian, 56, a mother of five with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Notre Dame and an MBA in finance from NYU, was first appointed to Rye’s City Council in the summer of 2012 to fill a seat that had been vacated. She was formally elected to the position that November and has held it since that time. She is now looking to unseat Latimer in the race for state senator from New York’s 37th district.
“I paid attention to the issues until I felt I understood them better than the lawmakers. I began to support politicians who supported the issues I believed in until I eventually thought it might be time to run for office. I had opinions and wanted to get involved,” Killian said of her 2012 City Council appointment and election and, now, her state Senate bid.
Addressing the question of how she differs from her opponent, Killian stated, “I’m going to fight for the issues I am passionate about. That is not what my opponent seems to want. You cannot tax and regulate the way to a brighter future. There are many pressing issues nationally and on the state level and he wants the status quo. He’s more of the same old, same old. I will fight for change.”
“You cannot make decisions in a vacuum. You need to make decisions based on what’s coming down the pike. I like numbers and make decisions based on data,” Killian said.
“I am passionate about the issues and my reasons for wanting to be in Albany. The only special interests should be the hardworking citizens of Westchester and New York State. I will make the citizens my number-one priority,” she concluded.
By Jill Kirsch