Perry Gershon is looking to unseat Republican Lee Zeldin in New York’s upcoming First Congressional District election on Nov. 6. He will be running on the Democratic line.
Gershon, 56, moved to Suffolk County over 22 years ago and currently lives in East Hampton with his wife, Lisa. Their two sons, Logan, 21, and Marshall, 19, are now in college. Gershon is an avid runner, saying he runs five miles six days a week and has participated in a total of 21 marathons. He was a former head of his synagogue’s social action committee, where he championed for New York’s SAFE laws in the aftermath of Sandy Hook and oversaw relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy.
Gershon graduated from Yale in 1984, then founded one of New York’s first sports bars for fellow Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fans. He then had a 25-year career as a lender to commercial real estate. When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, he decided he needed to get involved.
“I am concerned with the direction our country is going,” he said.
Gershon said that he believes residents are concerned with the political class, political bickering and ineffective leaders. He decided that due to feeling so strongly about the issues, it would be right for him to run himself.
He added that his career as a commercial real estate lender — in which he would connect buyers and banks giving loans — gives him the skills to work with fellow officials across party lines. He said those skills are sorely needed in Congress: the ability to compromise and work together for solutions. Gershon also vowed to be more accessible to constituents, accusing his opponent of not facing voters at critical times.
“The mark of a good leader is one who is willing to listen to both praise and dissent,” he said.
One of his most important issues is healthcare, for which he said universal healthcare is the goal, but work needs to be done now to secure the Affordable Care Act, passed under President Barack Obama, which has seen numerous attempts at repeal from the GOP. Gershon wants to make the law more operational and that there have been blueprints to do that already. He said the compromise bill brought up by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) was a good step forward in that discussion.
Gershon also wants to secure Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. He is opposed to raising the age of eligibility, and even more opposed to cuts to the programs. He said one way to help offset costs would be to “tinker” with the tax cap for those programs.
The candidate has also been outspoken on gun violence. He wants to see universal background checks without loopholes and is against concealed carry reciprocity, which would allow residents of other states who are allowed to carry concealed weapons to be able to do this in all 50 states. Gershon said this flies in the face of New York’s laws, which do not allow this, and would make people less safe. He also does not want to see guns in the hands of schoolteachers.
“If your goal is to keep guns out of schools, do not arm teachers,” Gershon said.
Gershon has been traveling the district and getting to know the issues about which residents are concerned. He said he’s been asking how a congressman could be helpful, and residents have responded, saying that they are concerned about the environment, healthcare, gun violence, and other issues.
In terms of local issues, he said infrastructure is a badly needed improvement for Suffolk County. He added that this was one of the only things that he agreed with when Trump was running for office. Gershon said that this would make Suffolk County more competitive to businesses and people who want to live and work here.
Another local issue Gershon wants to address is the clean water problem. He said that he is concerned about nitrogen runoff that has been infecting waters around the island. He is in favor of the Forge River Watershed Project in the Mastics, which would provide a new sewer system installation paid for by federal dollars earmarked after Superstorm Sandy.
Gershon is one of several candidates running for the House who do not support Nancy Pelosi to become speaker, should Democrats win control in the New Year.
“It’s time for a younger generation of Democrats,” he said.
Gershon will face Lee Zeldin in the Nov. 6 election.