Campaign 2016: Congressional candidate Anna Kaplan’s journey inspires her platform

QNS/Photo by Robert Pozarycki

Immigration is one of the most important issues to Congressional candidate Anna Kaplan, and with good reason.

The North Hempstead town councilwoman looking to replace Steve Israel on Capitol Hill was born in Iran and was rescued from the nation at age 13 shortly after the hardline government of Ayatollah Khomeini took control. Her journey to America took her first to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, then to Chicago, where she lived a short time with her brothers.

Soon after, Kaplan reunited with her parents, who had been living in Israel for a time after being unable to come directly to the U.S. at first. They would relocate to the Jamaica Estates section of Queens.

“We all applied for political asylum, got our green cards and worked our way to citizenship,” Kaplan told QNS in an interview on June 9. Drawing from her experiences, she said that she’s actively working to make immigrants in the Third Congressional District and all others of the importance of registering, voting and participating in the political process.

“Coming from a country where we did not register to vote, did not vote and did not have a voice, I believe one of the great things about this country is the democracy that we live in,” Kaplan said. “I want to bring more awareness and bring excitement about getting involved.”

She would go on to law school and eventually relocated to Great Neck with her husband and started a family. Kaplan got her start in public service as an active member of the Great Neck Public Library; from there, she gained a seat on the Town of North Hempstead’s Zoning Board.

Finally, in 2011, she ran for and won a seat on the Town Council, and was easily re-elected to the post last year.

Airplane noise is perhaps one of the most important topics among voters in the Queens section of the Third District, which includes parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Little Neck and Whitestone. Kaplan noted that her district in North Hempstead also suffers from the same problems, and that she supports Congressman Israel’s ongoing efforts to reduce noise from jets and helicopters flying over the region.

“I think it’s important that takeoff and landing paths are not changed without some community input and environmental study,” she said, adding that she would work to bring in noise monitors to gather data about the problem in the area.

Kaplan also stressed the importance of making the cost of higher education more affordable for all students: “College has become very expensive. Kids are coming out with huge loans. As a country, we can do so much better. Banks can borrow money at such low interest rates; there’s no reason we can’t have programs where our children can take out loans at lower interest rates and further their education.”

Calling herself “a true Democrat,” Kaplan claimed that the New Yorkers aren’t getting enough bang for their buck when it comes to federal tax revenue. She vowed to bring additional federal resources to the district for various improvements to public transportation and infrastructure.

“We need to create more jobs for our children and make it more affordable to live here,” she added. “I understand that a lot of jobs left, some will never come back, but I also believe this is a great nation and we can create a lot of new jobs.”

Kaplan remarked that she is “blessed to have a supportive husband and family” to make her Congressional run. She believes she is in a unique position to give back to the residents of the district “in a big way,” and “to show all the first generation immigrants that they could come here, work hard and be part of this great big democracy.”