It’s Official: Vedat Gashi Files Bowman Challenge to Congress

Westchester County legislator and congressional candidate Vedat Gashi

On Feb. 8, Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for Gashi for Congress, taking the first step to challenge incumbent Jamaal Bowman in a Democratic primary. on June 23, in the 16th District, which now runs from the Bronx all the way north into Putnam County.

Who is Vedat Gashi? Here is what his website tells us about his interesting life story. “Vedat’s commitment to public service grew out of his family’s experience as political activists and refugees, the opportunities he had to work with inspiring leaders, and his experience helping to create a country on the ashes of war.

“Vedat was born in Kosovo (former Yugoslavia) in April 1978. At the age of 4, he and his
family fled the oppressive and socialist regime in the United States. Vedat first moved to the Bronx
and later put down roots permanently in Yorktown. Vedat is one of five children, four of whom
still reside in Yorktown where they raise their family.

“After graduating from Lakeland High School, Vedat continued his education with a BA from Connecticut
College, where he was invited to serve on the board of trustees as a junior administrator.
Next, Vedat earned his JD from Seton Hall University. During his studies, Vedat did an internship at
two of his heroes, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, then on the Second Circuit Court of
Calls and Congressman Lee Hamilton on the House International Relations Committee.

“After passing the New York bar, Vedat was called up to serve in Kosovo to join the American/European effort
to help establish the new state of Kosovo – first with a grant from Rockefeller
Brothers Fund and later through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the
The United Nations. During his time in Kosovo, Vedat’s hard work led to remarkable achievements,
including the drafting of some of Kosovo’s fundamental legal documents and the establishment of Kosovo
Ministry of Local Administration. Vedat was later named by the United Nations
to serve as chief legal adviser to the Prime Minister of Kosovo. Shortly after the declaration of Kosovo
independence, Vedat returned home to the United States.

“Vedat’s experiences abroad made him appreciate the value of the strong democratic base
in the USA. Back home in Yorktown, Vedat followed in the footsteps of his
success of the small family business in real estate by opening his own small business, in the form
of a real estate law firm, in Yorktown Heights and the Bronx.

“Vedat currently lives and works in his hometown of Yorktown, with his wife, Vjosa, and their
children, Leka and Hana, who also attend public schools in Yorktown. Vedat is a member of
the Rotary Club of Yorktown and an active member of the Yorktown Democratic Party where he is the Democratic District Leader.

Gashi is currently serving his second two-year term on the Westchester Council of Legislators. Outside political circles, he is a relatively unknown elected official.

But those we spoke to called Gashi “a rising star in Democratic politics” and “someone who will give Bowman a tough run.”

“Gashi is a smart and efficient alternative. He has a unique demographic as a native of Kosovo, but grew up in North Westchester. As a Muslim, he brings diversity to the race and will be able to raise a lot of money. He has served his community well in many ways. Pay attention to Representative Bowman,” said a Westchester Democrat.

Another democrat who lives in the Gashi district said: “There are elected officials who reach the top earlier than others. I knew and campaigned with Vedat for four years. He is a thoughtful and engaging person. He went to Lakeland High School and I went to Yorktown. He has a wonderful family and is just another welcome face at Starbucks in the morning. But he is also a politician with a promising future.

Several Westchester Democrats said they didn’t want to speak publicly against Rep. Bowman but had nothing but respect for Gashi. Bowman’s 16th District was changed to include less of the Bronx (but the Bronx still makes up 30% of the district) and more of Westchester, going north to Yorktown and Putnam County.

“Yorktown is the hometown of Vedat and there are a thousand Democrats in Yorktown who want to make noise politically. They will help Vedat build momentum in the northern parts of the district. Democrats will go out for Vedat in North Westchester,” another Westchester Democrat said.

Some think Bowman is too progressive for the Westcheter Democrats he represents. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who was considering a run against Bowman, spoke and wrote an op-ed about the moderate part of the Westchester Democratic Party needing a voice. Maybe Vedat Gashi is that person. Gashi is expected to officially announce by February 18.

Editor’s note: Gashi for Congress was first reported in the Yonkers Tribune. The FEC documents are dated February 8.

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