“I want to be a good role model to the emerging Indian-Americans who want to make a difference in their communities.”
Democrats dominated New York state Senate races last week, ending up winning as many as six of the chamber’s nine seats on Long Island while decimating the Republican’s historic control of the region – known as the “Long Island Nine.” One of the more unexpected results was attorney Kevin Thomas’ narrow victory over state Sen. Kemp Hannon.
Democrat Kevin Thomas has become the first Indian American to be elected to the New York Senate, from New York’s 6th district. Thomas is an attorney and an appointee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to the New York State Advisory Committee.
“It’s a huge burden on my shoulders right now because since I’m the first,” the newly elected Indian American told the media. “I have to be a good role model to the younger generation that I’m hoping will come out and run for office from the community. Parents usually kind of push their kids into going into math, science and the legal profession. They don’t tell them go into a political career where I’m hoping with my election that’s going to change. I want to be a good role model to the emerging Indian-Americans who want to make a difference in their communities.”
Thomas’ top priorities, according to his campaign website, are education; women’s rights – as he supports the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, healthcare – in which he supports the Safe Staffing for Hospitals Act as well as the NY Health Act; fighting the opioid crisis; taxes; infrastructure; protecting the working class with the passing the Public Works Definition Act and Protecting the Prevailing Wage; gun control; immigration; protecting environment; civil rights and consumer protection.
On his campaign website, Thomas explains his reasoning and approach to solving issues as a Senator. Some of the issues he emphasizes on are ongoing while others have been brought up again and again through recent events such as immigration, gun control, the opioid epidemic and healthcare.
As to the reasons for his unexpected victory, he had this to say: “there were of course a number of reasons for it. One is the current political climate with Trump in office. And second, we as a state needed to be more progressive and I believe the voters in District 6 really believed that they needed change because my opponent never stepped foot in communities in the Democratic base, like in Hempstead and in Uniondale. He never touched foot there and they lost connection with him. And this is what happens when you’re comfortable being somewhere for 42 years, you forget who your constituents are.”
This is what he had to say about immigration: “As an Indian American who first emigrated to the United States as a 10-year-old, I believe every American immigrant should have the same opportunities I had. Under the current federal administration, it has never been more important to protect the rights of immigrants and ensure that all New Yorkers can pursue the promise of the American dream.”
He added: “For me, this is personal and as a State Senator, I will fight to pass the NY Liberty Act, which would protect our community from the repressive immigration enforcement and prevent cooperation between our state agencies and ICE, as well as pass the NY Dream Act, which would allow every New Yorker to get a quality college education, regardless of citizenship status.”
With the recent shootings that occurred in Pennsylvania and California, Thomas said that he is going to “support a bump-stock ban, which would prevent ordinary guns from being transformed into weapons capable of mass murder,” as well as the “passage of the Red Flag Law, which would allow police and family to petition state courts to remove firearms from persons who present a danger to others or themselves.”
He also plans to strengthen the SAFE Act, which is New York’s landmark gun control legislation that requires universal background checks, imposes tougher assault weapon bans and creates a statewide ammunitions registry. Thomas also mentions how he is concerned about the opioid epidemic in the country as “the number of opioid deaths in Long Island has skyrocketed.” He currently lives in Levittown with his wife, Rincy, who is a pharmacist, and their dog, Sirius.