After a life of advising New Yorkers on obtaining mortgages to buy their homes, Bruce Hirschfeld wants to help his neighbors in an even more profound way: as a U.S. Congressman.
Hirschfeld, who lives in Manhattan in the 12th Congressional District, which includes Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, and Carroll Gardens, quietly filed paperwork in October 2009 to begin exploring a run for Congress. Last week, he sent a letter to several Brooklyn District Leaders formally announcing his candidacy to challenge Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-12th District) in a Democratic primary.
“Many wonder why I would force a primary, the answer is simple, I believe we need someone in office who is not going to be just another seat warmer, but a leader who will fight to ensure that we put our district, state, and country in the right direction,” said Hirschfeld in his letter, which also cited President Barack Obama and comments from former Vice President Al Gore as inspiration for his run.
Born in Yonkers, Hirschfeld grew up in New City, NY, in Rockland County, before attending college at Alfred University in upstate New York where he studied biology and minored in political science. When he found himself not suited for medical school, Hirschfeld turned his attention to insurance, particularly home mortgage loans, and he opened a practice in Hackensack, NJ, called Montvale Mortgage LLC, of which he is President.
Hirschfeld credited his business experiences with home mortgages and his frustration that resulted from watching the housing market crash due to the proliferation of deceptive loans as responsible for spurring his congressional bid.
“This last recession we’ve had is by and far the worst,” said Hirschfeld. “I have watched my business shrink by 75 percent. Then I watched the economy shrink and I knew foreclosures were coming down the pipe. It got me really angry. Here I am one of the few people doing things the right way, and I’m watching the whole thing unravel before my eyes.”
On his winter walks through different commercial corridors in Brooklyn,Hirschfeld pointed to boarded up businesses as symptomatic of the region’s economic difficulties and Congress’ failure to adequately address the financial crisis.
“(People in this district) felt their concerns are not being met. All they want to do is work,” said Hirschfeld. “When you have a chairwoman of the Small Business Committee, that needs to be addressed and you need to ask why. You should be proactive in getting to the problem before that happens.”
A spokesperson for Congresswoman Velazquez said that the congresswoman “always welcomes the opportunity to discuss the issues and the work she’s done on behalf of New York families,” but did not comment on the race or Hirschfeld’s candidacy.
After declaring his intentions, Hirschfeld said that his next step is to begin reaching out to political leaders including several district leaders and county Democratic party chairs for face-to-face meetings.
“I’m going to give her a good run for her money. I plan on running a very good campaign,” said Hirschfeld. “The people right now are not happy. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. Has our current leader led us? The answer is yet to be determined.”