He has no staff, no endorsements, and no campaign war chest, but Pete Lindner is hoping the voters of the Upper East Side will elect him to Congress.
Lindner is the only Democratic challenger against Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has represented the 12th Congressional District for 23 years.
A graduate of MIT with a background in statistics and computer programming, Lindner wants to legalize marijuana and prostitution, promote gun safety, and eliminate corruption. (He was inspired to get into the June 28 race by a run-in with Maloney’s office over an allegedly corrupt judge, though a spokesperson from Maloney’s office said there is “not a shred of truth” to Lindner’s accusations.)
Lindner spoke with Our Town reporter Madeleine Thompson on his debut in politics.
On how he got on the ballot: I hate to quote Donald Trump, but the system is rigged. I went to the New York City Democratic Committee and I said I wanted to speak to somebody about running on the ticket. That was Keith Wright, and he said ‘I’ve been friends of [Carolyn Maloney’s] for 25 years’ and he told me to speak to his aide to set up an appointment and the aide refused. That was in October. The first week in May you have to go before the Board of Elections and have people challenge or not challenge your petition, and I challenged Maloney’s. But she had way more signatures than she needed and I didn’t, and so they challenged me. To make a long story short both our challenges were thrown out and I argued that I should be on the ballot anyhow and the chairwoman said ‘Mr. Lindner do you realize our ruling means you’re both going to be on the ballot?’ I said no, I didn’t. [laughs] So now I’m on the ballot.
On the lack of endorsements or support for his campaign: Well I was sort of hoping that I could get coverage on this. You’d think that newspapers would cover me but they’re not. And so I’m upset about that. I spoke to the League of Women Voters and they tried to get her to debate me, she said her calendar was booked.
On his education and background: I studied nuclear weapons. My knowledge is outdated because when I was in school the probability of hitting a silo was a quarter of a mile, but now with GPS and things like that you can get much closer. I’m a statistician, I do probabilities, I make what are mathematical models … but I also do marketing.
On reducing crime: If there are high crime areas I’d also have the government check to see what the unemployment is. Because if it’s high, I feel the government should be the employer of last resort, and they should be able to sweep the streets and clean up the parks and things like that. However, let’s say the minimum wage is $15 an hour, the government can also encourage companies to hire these people by paying $10 of the $15 per hour for their salary. That way the company gets a worker for $5 an hour and $10 straight by the government, plus the worker has a job, learns something, gets benefits -- unemployment, medical coverage, sick leave, IRA and things like that -- and has a vested stake in the community. That’s what we want. I think that would make things safer so people wouldn’t have to steal or trade drugs, do illegal things, in order to stay alive.
On his PETE system for tracking complaints:The PETE number stands for Personal Event Tracking Envelope. Suppose you call the police about something, you tell the whole story, and they say, ‘Oh, you’re calling precinct 13, you should call precinct 10.’ They would assign a PETE number, which is a unique number in the world, and then they would pass that number to the other agency or whatever and it would have a record of the whole conversation, all the notes and things like that, so you wouldn’t have to repeat it. It would be like a file.
On legalizing marijuana:It’s a big issue because that’s been going on for 30 or 40 years and it’s about time. It’s a Schedule I drug along with LSD and heroin, so it was misclassified and you can’t have a law that’s not based on reality. And the other side issue is that whites and blacks smoke it approximately at the same rate, but there are four times as many blacks in prison for the same event. I would let them out immediately. I would have judges expunge their records so they could say ‘I was never arrested and never put in jail’ and be telling the truth so that doesn’t affect their getting a job in the future, of course except for violence.