U.S. Rep. Max Rose, who directed a non-profit agency providing care for opioid-addicted patients before entering politics, vowed to combat the drug epidemic hitting his Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island congressional district as he laid out an ambitious agenda for his first term in a swearing in ceremony on Sat., Jan. 5.
“No parent should have to bury their child,” Rose told a crowd of supporters and fellow elected officials at his oath of office ceremony at the St. George Theater on Staten Island.
In his speech, Rose, a U.S. Army veteran who earned a Purple Heart while serving in Afghanistan in 2013, also promised to work to improve transportation in the district and to fight corruption in politics.
The oath was administered to Rose by Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon. “Max has indeed led a life of service, heroic service,” McMahon said. Rose’s wife Leigh stood by his side as he was sworn into office.
Rose, a Democrat, defeated Republican Rep. Dan Donovan in November in New York’s 11th Congressional District. The district takes in all or parts of several neighborhoods in Brooklyn, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend, and covers the entire borough of Staten Island.
Prior to running for office, Rose served as executive director of Brightpoint, a health care agency that treats patients addicted to opioids, and often remarked on the campaign trail that he saw first-hand the devastating effects drugs can have on people’s lives. It fueled his desire to do something, he said.
“I will not sit back,” he said, adding that he planned to hit the ground running.
The R subway line in Brooklyn is a mess, with frequent train breakdowns and long delays in service, according to Rose, who said he intends to do something about it. “I’ve seen people crying on subway platforms waiting for the R train,” he said, adding that no one should have to wait an hour for a train.
Another top priority, he said, will be to fight the corruption that is polluting the halls of Congress.
“Lobbyists want to take money away from you and sent it to their clients. For far too long, politicians on both sides of the aisle have said yes,” Rose said.
Lobbyists steer campaign contributions to lawmakers from Big Pharma, he charged. The lobbyists and the lawmakers operate under the belief that “no one will notice if you give that drug company tax breaks and they raise the price of an EpiPen,” he said.
Rose said he’s going to Washington DC to work for his constituents, not the lobbyists. “I’ve heard you and I’m going to make sure Congress hears you, too,” he told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters.
Rose was joined onstage by a group of political luminaries that included U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer; McMahon; City Comptroller Scott Stringer; City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; U.S. Reps. Nydia Velazquez, Carolyn Maloney and Hakeem Jeffries; state Sens. Andrew Gounardes and Diane Savino; Assemblymembers Peter Abbate, Mathylde Frontus, Michael Blake, Jo Anne Simon, Michael Cusick and Nicole Malliotakis; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; Staten Island Borough President James Oddo; Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; City Councilmembers Justin Brannan, Debi Rose, Rafael Espinal and Mark Treyger; and former Councilmember Vincent Gentile.
While Rose seemed impressed by the star power onstage, he recalled that his campaign for Congress had humble beginnings. “When this first started, it was just me and my high school friends,” he said. Winning a seat in Congress “was a long shot,” he added.
“No one thought he could win and he kicked butt!” Schumer said.
Schumer added that a politically divided Washington needs people like Rose, who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work on solving problems. “You’re going to get the representation you need,” he said.
Debi Rose, who jokingly referred to Max Rose as “the other Rose,” turned serious when talking about issues facing the country. “You need someone to fight for Medicare, Social Security, tax reform, infrastructure and the environment,” she told the audience.
“Max Rose cares,” she said.
Oddo, a Republican, said he was impressed by the bipartisan tone of the swearing-in ceremony and by Rose’s let’s-get-something-done attitude toward government. “I am encouraged by the approach Congressman Rose has taken,” he said.
Rose will help restore the public’s faith in government, Brannan predicted. “Max Rose is for the people and that’s the way it should be,” he said. “You are the people he works for and you call the shots.”