Two of Rep. Engel’s primary challengers bring campaigns to Pelham; all agree on need to deal with climate change

File photo of Rep. Eliot Engel

File photo of Rep. Eliot Engel

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Jamaal Bowman and Andom Ghebreghiorgis, both Democratic primary challengers to Rep. Eliot Engel, appeared at a meeting of the Progressive Women of Pelham to outline their reasons for taking on the 16-term Democrat in the June primary for the 16th district.

Andom Ghebreghiorgis grew up in Mount Vernon with Eritrean parents. He majored in political science and economics at Yale and went on to teach for ten years, including seven years at an underfunded school in the north Bronx.

Bowman was born in Manhattan and was raised by his single mother in East Harlem. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Haven, a master’s degree from Mercy College and a doctorate from Manhattanville College. He is a middle school principal and has been a teacher for twenty years. He does not take money from PACs.

Engel was born in the Bronx and has lived in district 16 his whole life. He went to Hunter-Lehman College and New York Law School.

(According to, Kenneth Belvin, Chris Fink and Sammy Ravelo are also mounting challenges to Engel.)

One topic of agreement for the two candidates who appeared in Pelham and Engel is climate change. Ghebreghiorgis and Bowman endorsed the Green New Deal and the Global Green New Deal.

In response to those who say what other countries do shouldn’t be our concern, Ghebreghiorgis said taking care of the earth is “all of our jobs because it’s all of our world… We need to all be on the same page to deal with our shared problems.”

“We have got to deal with that problem,” Engel said in an interview from his office. “If we let it go the way we are continuing to let it go, we’ll have a serious problem in the world.”

On women’s reproductive rights, Bowman said, “Women should be able to do whatever they want with their bodies.”

He said that when people are paid, they should be paid based on how well they do the job, not their gender or race.

Ghebreghiorgis supports the Women’s Health Protection Act and repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding to institutions that provide abortions.

Engel and Ghebreghiorgis agreed on the need for universal background checks in relation to gun purchases.

Ghebreghiorgis also mentioned a nation-wide licensing program, banning assault rifles and a red-flag rule, so that a person with a history of mental illness couldn’t buy a gun. He had many statistics to share, including the fact that police shootings contribute to 8% of gun deaths and that the U.S. is the only country in the world where guns outnumber people.

There are differences between the three candidates. Ghebreghiorgis and Bowman want no part in wars abroad, while Engel voted for the war in Iraq.