This past Sunday, February 23, elected officials, community leaders, and activists gathered in Forest Hills to kick off the reelection petition drive for Rep. Grace Meng, who is facing a determined challenge from a leftist who is riding on the momentum of AOC and Bernie Sanders.

“We have a month to gather the necessary number of signatures for our candidates,” said Tim Thomas, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, whose reelection bid is coordinated with Rep. Meng. “When we submit them, it will show how much support we have.”

In a time when so much political discourse takes place online, the time-honored procedure of knocking on doors and standing on street corners to gather signatures, having them verified by election officials, and challenged by the opposing campaigns, forces all candidates and their supporters to make their case in person.

As some of our local leaders know, petitioning is a process that involves a sturdy pair of sneakers, patience, and attention to detail. It also means knowing the issues that resonate with voters to ensure that the number of signatures gathered would meet the requirement and leave an impression with voters.

For the Jewish community in the Sixth Congressional District, this publication has written extensively on the positive accomplishments of Rep. Meng and Assemblyman Rosenthal. Last week, he introduced a pair of bills aimed at the rising cost of prescription drugs.

One bill would require pharmaceutical companies to report how often prescription drug prices go up and also provide rationale for the increases. The second bill requires drug manufacturers to notify the State up to 60 days before they raise the prices on certain drugs by ten percent or more.

Such bills seek to bring transparency into the prescription drug market, compelling companies that are responsible for life-saving drugs to be up-front about the cost of the medicine. Such legislation isn’t ideological; it is about explaining why some things cost as much as they do.

Concerning Rep. Meng’s leadership, her legislative record and public statements are firmly Democratic, but close enough to the center that she can campaign across the country to flip red districts to blue in her role as the party’s vice chair, and retain the support of conservative Democrats in her district. This includes her participation at AIPAC forums and other pro-Israel programs.

In contrast, her leftist opponent, Mel Gagarin, tweeted this week his approval of Sanders snubbing AIPAC, using it as an opportunity to attack Meng. “Bernie Sanders is showing leadership by skipping AIPAC. Grace Meng has regularly spoken to AIPAC while ignoring the plight of the Palestinian people.”

As a resident of the Sixth Congressional District, I do not have the power to oust Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. That’s entirely up to the voters in their respective districts, but I can help reelect Grace Meng by participating in the reelection petition drive that would return Meng to Washington, continue her leadership position in the national party, and provide a much-needed counter-narrative to the leftists who seek to delegitimize Israel.

If you are a registered Democrat and would like to sign the reelection petition for Daniel Rosenthal and Grace Meng, don’t wait for a petitioner to knock on your door. Contact me directly and I’ll run to you. That’s the importance of this year’s election.

 By Sergey Kadinsky