Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, 36, highlights her national security and foreign policy credentials as key strengths as a candidate for the 17th District Congressional seat.
Castleberry-Hernandez joined the U.S. Army after the 9/11 attacks and was deployed to the Middle East in 2012, serving a 30-month deployment supporting U.S. Central Command in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan.
In the Obama administration, she served as a special advisor at the State Department and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She is now a Major in the US. Army Reserves.
Since Trump took office, Castleberry-Hernandez says she has seen American leadership on the global stage erode. She points to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and pullback from nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
“I believe in American power. I believe that we should lead in the world,” she says. “When we pull out, Russia and China fill that vacuum. You are seeing that in Africa, you are seeing that even in the Middle East.”
At the same time, she stresses the need to “end these endless wars” and refocus spending towards addressing challenges at home.
Domestically, Castleberry-Hernandez says her top priority is addressing healthcare. She favors a public option as a pathway to an eventual single-payer plan, but believes that the latter is not affordable at this moment.
“If I could snap my fingers and give you Medicare for All, I would do it,” she explains. “We just don’t have the money to provide that right way.”
Overall, Castleberry-Hernandez’s domestic policy views skew towards the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. She supports a Green New Deal to reduce carbon emissions, reparations for descendants of slaves, the cancellation of student loan debt and a $15 minimum wage. She also favors repealing President Trump’s 2018 tax cuts and raising taxes for the top 5% of earners.
“I know what it feels like to live paycheck to paycheck,” she say. “I know what it is to face student loan debt.”
Along with raising taxes for high earners, Castleberry-Hernandez would look to end tax loopholes that these high earners use to lower their tax burden. She previously considered supporting a wealth tax, but says she researched the issue and believes it would not pass constitutional muster.
Castleberry-Hernandez now teaches Foreign Policy and Grand Strategy at Baruch College. She was previously a lecturer at Fordham University and taught at George Washington University in Washington D.C. She supports expanding STEM and believes community college should be free.
Castleberry-Hernandez lives in Elmsford with her husband, Vladimir, and their daughter Aaliyah.
“We need diversity in Congress,” she says. “We need more women. We need more people of color. We need more vets. We need more teachers like me.”
For more information visit www.ashaforcongress.com.