By Sabina Mollot
Last week, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a 23-year Democrat incumbent, officially announced that she was running for reelection.
In a press release, she touted her experience fighting for transportation improvements as well as women and children’s rights.
Meanwhile, a computer programmer and resident of Union Square has entered the race against her.
Peter Lindner, a 66-year-old Democrat, said he’s never been involved in politics, either through political clubs or working for a politician. But he came to be inspired to run one day when he felt unsatisfied with a response he got from Maloney’s office when he went there with a constituent complaint.
The issue was over what he believes was corrupt behavior by another official that he wanted investigated. But after providing the congresswoman with documentation that argued his case, he said he was told by a staffer to stop calling, and that police would be called if he didn’t.
A spokesperson for Maloney declined to comment on Lindner’s claims.
Since then, Lindner, who said he has voted for Maloney in the past, has been petitioning to get his own name on the ballot. In order to run he’ll need 1250 signatures. When asked how many names he has at this point, Lindner admitted, “Not nearly enough.” He also has a campaign website, 4petesake.nyc, though it has no content yet.
Asked what his platform’s all about, Lindner said a few issues of importance to him were gun control, decriminalizing marijuana and, in an effort to protect sex workers, legalizing prostitution.
“I don’t have an elevator pitch. I’m saying, ‘we need to do new things,’” he said.
Lindner, who’s a graduate of MIT and has worked with computers since 1968, also said a priority for him, if elected, would be to expand government agencies’ use of technology. “Let’s move into the 21st century,” he said.
He’s not focused on issues pertaining to the 12th Congressional District, admitting there were no local matters he considered to be especially dire. The district includes much of Manhattan’s East Side as well as Roosevelt Island and parts of Queens and Brooklyn.
“The big thing that I’m running about is gun safety,” Lindner said, adding that he would like to see “smart guns” or guns that have thumb print recognition systems, become mandatory. “So if someone grabs it from a cop it wouldn’t work,” he said. “All you could use it for is a club, and it would stop (shootings) with parents’ guns. When they try to get rid of it, everyone would know whose gun it is.”
Lindner’s interest in gun control (also a passion of his opponent’s) has been fueled in part by his concern for his longtime boyfriend. The candidate declined to name him, since his partner isn’t known as being gay in his neighborhood in Brooklyn, which is a lot less safe than Lindner’s. He noted that his boyfriend doesn’t even leave home late at night.
“I leave my house at midnight — no problems,” said Lindner. “I think we need to do a lot to stop violence, and one way is gun safety.”
He also wants to see more emphasis placed on job creation in high crime areas. “We need jobs for people. In some areas, if you don’t sell drugs, how are you going to live?”
On the legalizing of marijuana, Lindner compared the current laws to prohibition, which, he argued, only served to encourage mafia activity. “We didn’t need organized crime so we stopped it,” he said. “I think it’s the same with marijuana. People are in jail and it’s ruined their lives. I would expunge their records as long as they didn’t do anything violent.”
He recommended that instead, marijuana be regulated like alcohol. “You don’t let kids drink alcohol or smoke marijuana,” Lindner said. “It should be used medically and recreationally.” However, he admitted that this opinion has been unpopular along the campaign trail. “People say, ‘No they shouldn’t (legalize it).’ I don’t know if they know the difference between marijuana or cocaine.”
On legalizing prostitution, he explained it would make sure sex workers are compensated fairly, and also taxed.
“If a woman wants to sell her body, she should be able to do it, but she should be taxed. If she pays money to a pimp, then the pimp should be taxed, and they should get insurance and 401k. If a pimp beats a ho, it’s a simple case of workplace violence,” said Lindner. He added that his views extend to male sex workers as well. “It’s certainly a job for a lot of gay guys who work as hustlers.”
However, it was his views on gun control, not drugs or prostitution, that managed to enrage a voter. Lindner recalled how once in Stuyvesant Town, a person he’d been chatting up, informed him: “You’re the kind of person I’d like to kill.”
Other than this jarring statement though, Lindner said the interaction he’s had while petitioning in Stuy Town has been friendly.
Of German descent, Lindner is also Jewish though not religious. He has lived in the Union Square neighborhood for 26 years.
In related news, another Democrat has also entered the race against Maloney, Manhattan School of Music professor David Eisenbach. Recently, a knowledgeable source told Town & Village he dropped out of the race. However, we were unable to reach Eisenbach to confirm if he’s in or out.