In a district that leans heavily Democratic, one Republican is hoping to upend the political establishment this fall and defeat the longtime incumbent, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, to represent the Upper East Side. Chris Wight, an investment banker who has lived in the neighborhood for the past decade, is quick to remind his naysayers that Maloney herself got into office in a surprise upset against an entrenched opponent from the other party. He points to that as proof that Upper East Siders will listen to individual candidates with an open mind.
“To legislate and to effect meaningful change for citizens, I think it’s Carolyn Maloney that’s at the disadvantage,” Wight said. “Going to Washington as a representative of the people and having experience working in the private sector is much more important than having been isolated and in Congress.”
Wight is the type of Republican who might stand a chance with Manhattan voters—that is, fiscally conservative but socially liberal. While he disdains Maloney’s heavy involvement fighting what he sees as a disingenuously labeled “War on Women,” he said that he believes that the government shouldn’t get in the way of a woman’s right to chose, an opinion that aligns with his political philosophy of getting government out of the way.
“Health care decisions should be between doctors and patients,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a menu of two or three acceptable options that are mandated by the government.”
Wight also wants to streamline regulations and reduce burdens on small businesses.
“We need to create incentives for people to do business, for small businesses to grow and hire more workers,” Wight said. “One thing we have to focus on is tax relief for small businesses, to give them more free capital to invest and hire more workers.”
He supports cutting the corporate tax rate in order to stimulate growth, a move that he said will increase overall tax revenues as more businesses open. He is also in favor of a simplified, flatter tax structure and closing the gap of unpaid taxes owed to the government by overhauling the tax code.
Wight aims to make the health care system cheaper and more accessible through tort reform, protecting doctors and hospitals from frivolous lawsuits and incentivizing doctors to make better, more cost-effective decisions on patient care.
“I believe patients need to have a more vested interest in how much they’re paying for health care, for procedures. They need to be aware of how much things cost and they need to have a vested interest in, for example, not over-testing,” Wight said.
Originally from Ohio, Wight graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in business administration and went straight into the banking world. He worked at Goldman Sachs as an analyst studying equity markets for four years, then moved to Deutsche Bank for five years to manage an operations team. He currently works for JP Morgan and touts his experience in the private sector as vital to serving in Congress.
“I think we need more people coming from the private sector who understand how our financial systems works, who understand business and who understand how to create jobs and economic growth; we need more experts in Congress,” Wight said.
Wight is aware of his opponent’s popularity, but thinks Upper East Siders will be open to change. He criticizes Maloney for fixing every problem with a new piece of legislation and says that what the district and the country need is fewer complicated laws, not more of them. He also wants to tone down the partisan rhetoric he feels is overwhelming Congress right now, contributing to the distrust many Americans have for the government.
“I consider myself more of a moderate and a centrist. I think too many people get tied up in labels of Democrat or Republican and they make it partisan,” Wight said. “I think this election is not really about being a Republican or a Democrat, it’s about solutions and ideas and economic growth and job creation.”
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