Sitting on a bench in the Southside Community Center on Friday evening, Democratic congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95 discussed her support of legalizing recreational marijuana, the importance of reducing the burden of student loans and how a “traumatic” childhood incident — in which her father punched a police officer — had influenced her views of law enforcement.
In a previous interview with The Sun, Mitrano said that she was inspired to run for election after she started to question “how did we get here” following the election of Donald Trump.
Mitrano — who is running against incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) to represent New York’s 23rd congressional district — said that students should be able to take college loans with zero percent interest rates, something she hopes she can use to gain bipartisan support.
Mitrano said she had met a woman who regretted urging her daughter to go to college because her daughter was “swamped” with student loan debt.
“It’s not fair. It’s not just,” Mitrano said. “It’s not what the United States or higher education was supposed to be about.”
When asked about the recent turmoil regarding the Supreme Court Justice nomination, Mitrano refused to say whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed following the accusation of sexual assault from Christine Blasey Ford.
However, on the same note, she said that little criminal and civil action has been taken against perpetrators in the past “because of the culture that has caused women to internalize it or to disguise it or to be unwilling to share it.”
“I think that increasingly men and women, but especially women, are experiencing more fortitude and courage in sharing their experiences and not feeling alone, not feeling ashamed to talk about them,” Mitrano said.
In a 2015 blog post for Inside Higher Ed, Mitrano recalled her father’s violent confrontation with police at a golf course when she was 11 years old, which she said influenced her for many years.
Her father violated club rules, she wrote, and “clocked” a police officer in the jaw after he grabbed for her father’s wallet. The officer pulled out a gun and arrested her father, and Mitrano’s mother later bailed her father out of jail.
On police abuse and misconduct, Mitrano said in Friday’s interview that she wants departments to “prioritize de-escalation, to address discrimination and bias,” even though “very little” can be done on the federal level and that any changes would have to be reviewed by the Department of Justice.
Mitrano also said that she supported legalization and of recreational cannabis. Those convicted of marijuana possession for “very, very low levels” should get “amnesty” and have their records cleared, she told The Sun.
Mitrano and Reed will face off on Election Day, Nov. 6.