Why I Am Running: Rita McKee

4thofjuly - American Flag - Bridge

(Photo: Briana E. Heard)

My name is Rita McKee and I am running as a progressive, independent, alternative to Charles B. Rangel for Congress in New York’s 13th Congressional District.

Why am I running?

I believe in the United States with my whole heart; parades on Veterans Day (my dad’s day! … the flag passing, the soldiers, the rat-a-tat-tat of the snares!) and the Pledge of Allegiance (“one Nation, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All”) are deep in my Midwestern childhood memories.

Over 64 years, my appreciation for, and understanding of, my country has grown and matured. I read the Federalist Papers and The Armies of the Night; watched Watergate hearings, Iran-Contra Hearings… lots of hearings, some gravely real, many mere political theater.  I saw Congress Members who stood up… and those who stood in the Well for censure.      I read bills proposed for political show – and saw the results of votes held merely for political gain, and the effect of regressive political deals.

Congressman Rangel ‘won’ by 47% his Democratic Primary,  in a turnout of 13%. So about 6% of our District voted for him. When I realized no one was truly going to challenge the idea of 6% support for a Congress Member being sufficient to re-elect him to his 23rd term, I was shocked. This is not Democracy.

So I stepped out.

Those who read my page (facebook.com/RoughAcres), know where I stand on a wide array of issues – from abortion to zoning – but for those who haven’t, my political stance is simple: freedom, fairness, equality, common sense, opportunity, for all… and a vision for the future that benefits WE THE PEOPLE, not corporations, above all else.

I’ve been a cabdriver, warehouse worker, co-op president, advertising executive, and graphic designer; edited a student’s creative newspaper and science, math, and social sciences texts; directed a JCC’s marketing department; sold mutual funds and insurance; been a volunteer English Composition tutor; raised funds for a variety of organizations as my clients; and edited a benefits magazine.

Here in District 12, I was appointed to the Community Board two terms by the Borough President, serving as its Second Vice Chair, and on its Executive, Economic Development, and Traffic & Transportation Committees. I did a ride-a-long with the Overnight Conditions Unit of the 34th Precinct. I’ve attended meetings and hearings – some of them fruitful, many not. I’ve marched for affordable housing and taken part in NoMAA’s efforts to increase public interest in (and support of) local artists; attended a debate on Common Core; worked to improve quality of life for all our residents… and seen what happens when political promises disappear and/or disappoint, and when political parties remove people’s choice.

I’ve seen personally the corruption of money, in politics, in policy, in public life. As an independent candidate running a “money-free” campaign (no money asked for, accepted, or spent), I am free of the influence of money, and also of the partisan agenda; free to make proposals in the best interests of people – commonsense, bipartisan proposals for equality of education and opportunity; for affordable housing; for immigration reform; for tax reform; for infrastructure repair; for community policing; for laws to protect public, not private, interests.

Our country is mired in politics-as-usual in Washington, and in our community –  it’s time for a fresh start for District 12.

Since strangers in the Bronx, Inwood, Harlem, and Washington Heights (my own neighborhood for the past 10 years) are now giving me the “write-in” gesture – and people I respect have told me they’re writing me in (or have already done so), I guess my “word-of-mouth” approach to running for Congress is working. Maybe, by November 4, enough of us will have united together to send a message to Washington, DC: “time to change the paradigm.”

I hope, November 4, you will choose to “write-in” your vote and join in taking that first step.

Thanks. xo R

RA selfie

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  • Rita McKee
    November 3, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Thanks, Led, for running this.
    The only thing I regret…
    is being so “cerebral” and “reasoned” in my argument that I forgot to mention the ONLY reason to run for public office: people are HURTING out here, and no one else is doing anything about it.
    xo R