James Skoufis, the Democrat currently representing the 99th District of the New York State Assembly, is in a full fledge public feud. The 31-year-old has recently been elected as the State Senator for the 39th district, replacing retiring state senator Bill Larkin. The 39th district includes a large part of Orange County and portions of Rockland and Ulster Counties. Skoufis will be sworn into his new post in January 2019. In the meantime, he is keeping very busy battling those who did not wish for him to be elected.
The chief rabbi of the Satmar community in Kiryas Joel, is among them. Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum in a speech to his followers, spoke against the NYS Department of Education’s new laws mandating weighty changes to the secular curriculum of private schools. As per News 12, he said that New York State jails are filled with killers who are products of the public school system, and that their schools need not rush to emulate them. “It is clear to see the results of our educational system versus theirs,” said R. Teitelbaum. “We don’t produce killers and others who perpetuate violence. We don’t have drug dealers and thieves and our students are far more successful than public school graduates.” He also alleged the state of infringing on their constitutional right, in trying to prohibit Jewish education. In his 90-minute speech, where the chief Rabbi was riled up about the never before-seen oversight in private schools and yeshivas, he called Sen.-elect Skoufis “wicked and evil”.
Skoufis lost no time responding, via an enraged post on his Facebook page. “I guess he’s still rankled that my campaign was able to easily overcome his bloc vote this past election,” wrote Skoufis. He added that the Rabbi’s comments were “abhorrent,” “disgraceful” and “dangerous”. As per VIN News, he also warned Kiryas Joel residents not to expect any favors during his reign in Albany. “There’s going to be a new sheriff in town and if there’s anything wicked, it’s this preferential treatment some politicians give Kiryas Joel,” said Skoufis. “That’s going to end on my watch.”
Skoufis’ Facebook posts elicited even uglier comments on his page, from users who seemed to agree with his stance. Readers left hate filled posts targeting Jews such as, “Can’t believe we have to share the same space as these vile parasitic lunatics,” one commenter, by the name Pete Hermann, posted. “They don’t have thieves?!,” wrote Facebook user Shaun Patrick Reilly. “The entire cult has been stealing from NYS under the guise of religion. Bloodsucking golems.” Referencing the measles outbreak, Facebook user with the name Tommy Starro wrote, “[Obscenity] measle infested leeches.”
Skoufis has a history of working against Kiryas Joel. When he was on the Woodbury Town Board and in the State Assembly, in 2015, he strongly opposed efforts by the village of Kiryas Joel to annex neighboring communities’ land. He authored two statewide bills to enhance accountability during the annexation process. Both the bills were almost passed but were vetoed by Governor Cuomo. Born in Flushing, Queens, the son of a Greek immigrant, Skoufis became the youngest member of the Assembly, when at age 24 he was elected in Orange County in 2012, and then re-elected in 2014 and 2016.
In his Election Day victory speech, in November, Skoufis already blasted both Governor Cuomo and the Kiryas Joel bloc vote. “When we go to the State Senate in January, we will not owe anything to any of them,” said Skoufis. “Not the governor. Not KJ. Not any of the special interests that operate in Albany. The only, the only people I will happily be indebted to are all of you.”
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