Jacqueline Gordon, a Copiague resident, filed her statement of candidacy as a Democrat for Rep. Peter King’s Congressional seat, New York-2, on May 15, 2019, months before King announced his retirement on Nov. 11. Gordon served 29 years in the U.S. Army Reserve with four deployments: platoon leader in Germany during Operation Desert Storm, operations officer at Guantanamo Bay during the Global War on Terror, battle captain in Baghdad during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and commander of the 310th Military Police Battalion in Afghanistan in 2012. She retired in 2014 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Gordon has been a Babylon Town councilwoman since 2007, and she is a guidance counselor who advises high school students at Wilson Technological Center in Farmingdale. She has two children, son Augustus and daughter Kerrianne, who is a captain in the U.S. Air Force.
Suffolk County News: What was your deciding factor to run?
Jacqueline Gordon: What made me decide to run was the same reason I joined the Army: It was a commercial that said, ‘In the Army, we do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.’ They were all working hard, working together, accomplishing their mission and goals and when I saw that commercial, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I’ve lived my life by setting goals, identifying problems, creating solutions, accomplishing goals. And last year, what I saw in Congress and locally, because Peter King is also local, congestion and gridlock and people sticking their heads in the sand, I knew I could do the job. As an educator, communicator, retired military officer, government official and a single mom I could draw on those skills in many career fields. Another thing was the sense of ‘King’s not here.’ He shows up election time or for awards for firefighters and police officers, and I feel it’s difficult to connect with people if you don’t see them or know who they are. As a councilperson, I am always out and about and find out what the issues are, what my constituents’ greatest worries are. I want to represent the people in this district well.
SCN: You’ve been on the Babylon Town Board since 2007. Give me specific examples of your biggest accomplishments there.
JG: One of the biggest is holding the line on taxes for several cycles. We now have a AAA rating and are staying within the tax cap while providing town services. From my office directly, it’s the Veterans Advisory Board. When I got there, it was basically just an essay contest. I’ve breathed life into it by creating a newsletter that gets distributed four times a year. We give and get information to our veteran community of about 10,000 in Babylon; 3,000 receive it monthly, and it’s growing. We provide information about services they are eligible for, entitlements, new laws that affect them. Sometimes they contact us about something new, and we’ll research it and put it into the next newsletter. I’ve also partnered with the Wounded Warriors Project and helped raise over $1 million to benefit veterans; half of it raised stays in Suffolk County. I helped broker it to a veteran service agency here. I also chair a minority internship program with the town. We raise money to fund it, and have about 20 underrepresented students each summer who get to see how the town is run, learn its history, how resolutions are processed; they have access to a speakers bureau on careers. Three hundred have gone through. Also, the Beautification Program: We have 400 volunteers and 50 Adopt-A-Spots, so we relieve the tax burden and quality of life is maintained.
SCN: You spent 29 years in the Armed Forces. What was your toughest moment, and what did your time there instill in you in terms of wisdom?
JG: I think that was in Iraq with the Crisis Action Team when they captured Suddam Hussein. I wasn’t at his capture; we were probably thousands of miles away at the headquarters, where members from every aspect of the team were involved — the Air Force, the medical team, the detention facility that had to be prepared to house him — and so I represented the MPs. When they said he was found, everything we did had to be correct, with implications on the U.S. level and internationally, and I felt the weight of all of that on me. (As for decisions and what you learn), the U.S. military has some of the best training you can get, and we’re ready for almost any kind of situation. In Afghanistan, for example, as battalion commander, we had cultural awareness training, and I had 23 books and white papers to read along with role playing so I would understand how not to offend them so they would accept our training. My experience in the military gives me the ability to be empathetic, to walk in someone else’s shoes. Especially since the world is so small now. So you can’t say, ‘It’s over there and it’s not my problem.’ And I know that as a councilwoman, I represent everyone. When someone calls my office, I don’t ask what party they are; I give them help. That’s not what I see in Congress.
SCN: Give me a major issue you want to address on your platform.
JG: All of us are concerned about health care; every person has a right to acceptable and affordable health care. What we forget is that this national health care we have now, prior to eight years ago, we didn’t have. Is it perfect? No, but we should keep what we have and get rid of the things not working. Even Medicare and Medicaid needs to be tweaked. In Iraq, we were there 12 times, there was a different initiative each time and we got nowhere. We don’t want to waste time.
SCN: Your stance on gun control?
JG: I think we definitely need to enact universal background checks. New York has already enacted Red Flag laws, but we need to get other states that don’t have them involved. I don’t believe assault weapons need to be in regular citizens’ hands; they should only be for the military and police. I don’t believe teachers should be armed.
SCN: You also work with young people as a guidance counselor at Wilson Technological Center in Farmingdale. What is the biggest need in the district for them?
JG: I think they need mentor support, job opportunities. But they need a sense of purpose. So many students, 11th and 12th graders, don’t have any idea of what they can aspire to be or what they are interested in. I tell them to try different things. You can be a world-renowned cellist, but if you don’t pick it up, you won’t know. I tell them to do any kind of internship. If nothing else, it makes you interesting.
So far, Jackie Gordon is the only Suffolk County candidate who has filed a statement of candidacy as a Democrat for Rep. Peter King’s Congressional seat, with Candidate Financial Totals according to the Federal Election Commission as website of 9/30/19 and has set up a website, jackiegordonforcongress.com. (Two others, Johanna Kristin Ellerup and Mike Sax, have filed but there is no processed data.) King’s district also spans parts of Nassau County. “Jackie Gordon is a four tours of duty, retired Lt. Col., veteran in Iraq and Afghanistan, a single mother who raised two children, an educator who spent over 30 years working with our young people and a councilwoman who has honorably served the Town of Babylon for over 11 years,” said Rich Schaffer, Suffolk County Democratic Committee chairman. “She is exactly what Congress needs: a person who has served in the trenches and knows how it is to be a member of Long Island’s middle class.” As for the Republicans’ take: “We have several strong candidates that the Republican Committee will first vet and we’ll then present to the voters the first week in January,” said Jesse Garcia, Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman. “We’re confident that person we choose will enforce the legacy of Peter King in terms of service, and our intention is to maintain the seat so we can take back the House in 2020.”