Alumnus Challenges Incumbent in Congressional Primary

Alumnus Challenges Incumbent in Congressional Primary

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By Morgan Kashinsky

Staff Writer

Jonathan Ortiz (’09), who graduated with ac bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, is challenging incumbent Jose Serrano in the 2020 Democratic primary for the NY-15 (Bronx) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Jonathan Ortiz at financial literacy event in South Bronx

Ortiz’s name is already on the ballot. Jose Serrano has held the seat since 1990. When asked if he has talked to the Congressman or his team, Ortiz said “I have not reached out to him or inquired about it, because I honestly don’t care. A guy like me [will be] direct to him.” He believes that Serrano hasn’t recently taken on any mainstream issues. “All he has been working on is street naming, and things that don’t matter to the community. Propose
things that are going to impact the mental health of my community. I’m a ‘do-er.’ I believe in doing.”

The Pioneer reached out to Congressman Serrano for comment, but has not heard back as of the time of publishing.

Yet, Ortiz still has high regards for Congressman Serrano. “I nonetheless respect him, and I honor him because he opened the door for Latinos and Blacks in the Bronx. If it wasn’t for people like Mr. Serrano, we wouldn’t have the representation we have in government right now.” Ortiz said.

Ortiz says his top three priorities are student loans, mental health, and affordable housing.

“As a part of mental health, I include universal health care for everyone. I don’t care if you’re a refugee. As soon as you’re American, you get
healthcare.” He believes affordable housing is not affordable to those who need it. “Basing affordable housing on a person’s net income after federal, state, and local taxes” is a more appropriate approach than basing affordable housing prices off of gross income.

“The Capitol feels a little outdated. While the Constitution never changes, it needs to be applied to work in the times we live in, and not in the 1700s.” Ortiz said, addressing the political climate. “We are Americans. Those
of us who came here through the immigration process, those who were born here, we’re all on the same page. It’s not like immigrants want
something that we don’t want.”

As a student at C.W. Post, Ortiz worked for the admissions office and as a kitchen manager at Winnick. Ortiz said that he valued most about his time at Post “The connections made. The friendships I made at Post I carry every
single day since I started there. I still have a group chat from my time at Post.”

Since graduation, he has been working at the pilot branch of the Financial Empowerment Center in the South Bronx, and is currently the Director of the Financial Empowerment Center at Phipps Neighborhoods. “It’s a program that was started by Mike Bloomberg,” Ortiz said.

“They basically started off in the South Bronx to help people rise above poverty by offering them free financial advice.” The center offers help with financial literacy, financial education and financial coaching to about 2000 clients annually and 25,000 clients since the program’s inception in 2008.

Following the center’s success, the program has been replicated
nationally.

Ortiz has been featured as a financial expert and advisor on programs such as Telemundo, Univision, Bronx News 12, El Diario, Bronxnet, New York 1, Unimás, and in the Wall Street Journal.

Ortiz offered advice for students. “No matter where they see themselves on the political spectrum, they can contribute and collaborate, and see themselves as part of a bigger picture,” he said.

Students can follow Ortiz on Instagram @jortizfinancetv.

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