“I’m talking about real jobs that are available today,” Clyde Williams said as we talked over brunch in Harlem this morning (he wanted otmeal but settled for the scrambled egg plate). “Studies show that if all the jobs available were filled, the unemployment rate would be under 7%”
Mr. Williams was explaining his next policy push in his congressional campaign as he works to unseat veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel. He argued that the federal government should be doing much more to retrain workers for targeted industries and that Mr. Rangel, currently in office, has not been delivering.
Previously Mr. Williams worked for President Bill Clinton and the national Democratic party, and he leaned hard on his connections in Washington D.C. to explain why he can accomplish his agenda, even if he can’t get legislation through a Republican-controlled House.
“First thing is you don’t need to pass legislation to get money to actually do the job training. There’s millions of dollars sitting at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone right now, if you get elected, to actually … do these things,” he contended. “The other thing is money sitting at the labor department to do the kind of job training we’re talking about.”
Another prominent candidate in the race is State Senator Adriano Espaillat, but Mr. Williams stressed that he would be able to accomplish things Mr. Espaillat couldn’t.
“So the difference between me and somebody like Espaillat is I’ve actually worked in D.C., I worked in a government agency,” he said. “I know that there’s money to be had to do the things that are necessary. When I go to D.C. from Day One I’ll be able to hit the ground running.”
His economic platform has additional planks, including a big focus on using economic development resources to bring tourism to the Uptown portions of the district.
“Tourism is a huge economic engine in Northern Manhattan,” he explained. “Think about this, they come up here and they stay 3 or 4 hours, 5 max. We need to build hotels in this community where they spend four or five days … so that we can then build all of the other ancillary things that go along with that. Those will create thousands of jobs.”
Mr. Williams lamented that the race so far, as discussed in the media, has been centered on endorsements of elected officials for Mr. Espaillat and Mr. Rangel rather than substantive policy proposals.
“A lot of it is people get caught up in personalities,” he answered when we asked why this has been the case. “At some level, people are more interested at talking about the black/brown dynamic in reference to the race. The thing is I believe in this, Latinos and African-Americans have much more in common than they do different.”