In spite of COVID-related restrictions, N.Y. State Sen. David Carlucci ’02 (D-38th) has continued to campaign for Congress, navigating conversations about systemic racism and police brutality.
Carlucci, whose constituency currently consists of parts of Rockland and Westchester counties, is now running for the House of Representatives in New York’s 17th Congressional District. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) — who currently represents this district — is not seeking re-election.
Since his election in 2010, Carlucci has passed over 200 bills into laws in New York and, last year, more legislation than any other lawmaker in the state, he said.
But as the country has been embroiled in protests after the killings of multiple Black Americans at the hands of police officers, police brutality has become a recent topic of conversation — both in the statehouse and on his now-virtual campaign trail.
Several peaceful protests took place in Westchester and Rockland counties, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Rockland County Executive Ed Day threatened that “organized anarchists” who attempt to incite violence in the county are “at their own peril” and will be dealt with swiftly by law enforcement.
“I’ve just been urging people that it’s important to demonstrate and to make a protest and that we have to do it safely,” Carlucci said. “The last thing we want is for people to be injured during this.”
In their virtual conferences, Carlucci and his fellow Democratic state senators have been discussing legislation to combat police brutality, which according to him, could be passed as early as next week.
The state senators discussed the possibility of an office of special investigations, which would hold independent investigations into police offenses that result in a civilian’s death.
They are also considering passing legislation to require law enforcement officers who discharge their weapons to immediately report the incident, passing a bill to prevent the use of a chokehold in certain cases and establishing a law enforcement inspector general.
“You want action, but you want it done right. That’s what you’ve got to balance as a lawmaker,” said Carlucci. “We’ve got to do this, but we have to think it through and make sure there’s not unforeseen consequences for our actions.”
Born and raised in Rockland County, Carlucci is an alumnus of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. After college, he returned home, working as a staff assistant for Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). The congressional candidate soon became Clarkstown’s Town Clerk and eventually ran for the State Senate in 2010.
Carlucci explained that he owes much of his career in politics to his involvement in student government at Cornell and his ILR coursework.
“A lot of what we studied is what I deal with now,” he said. “It really shaped the way that I see things and has given me that basic foundation of knowledge that has helped me to pass important legislation.”
He first realized his interest in politics in high school, when he first considered running for office someday, thinking politics could be a “vehicle for change”.
“I would tell people, ‘One day I want to run for office,’” Carlucci said. “And I remember people would say to me, ‘Why do you want to do that? You’re a nice person.’”
“That’s the stigma of politics. ‘Politician’ is a dirty word,” he continued. “But I began to see that if we really wanted to influence our society and our government, that politics is in everything and that we can’t ignore it.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic restricted his ability to run a typical door-to-door canvassing campaign, he has found other ways to reach potential voters. Carlucci’s team of volunteers have been calling voters instead, and he has participated in Zoom debates.
He has also remained active in his district, attending food giveaways, promoting a new antibody testing site and planning a virtual “5K for a cause.”
Additionally, he holds virtual town hall meetings every Monday and Wednesday, via Facebook Live, allowing him to directly interact with his constituents.