Time to elect an Albanian-American in US Congress: Vedat Gashi can do it!

He is running for congressman Engel’s old seat and would be a great representative not just for Albanians but for everyone in New York’s 16th district

By Harry Bajraktari

From the left: Naim Bajraktari, Vedat Gashi, and Harry Bajraktari, during a visit to the author’s office in Westchester.

Vedat Gashi’s announcement that he will be running for US Congress is great news for our community.

We have always wanted to see a generation of young Albanian-Americans run for public office and represent areas in which our community lives.

Vedat brings with him the beautiful story of an immigrants’ son who grows up to become a leader and fulfills his version of the American Dream.

His story matters particularly to our community. Like him, many of us, immigrated here from Kosova, and other Albanian lands where we left behind oppression and hardship. In this country we found a second home. We found freedom and democracy. It inspired us to work hard and become good citizens, and American patriots. It also inspired us to go back and help the country we left behind. Vedat has done it all. After graduating from college, he went back to help with Kosova’s legal reform and building the institutions of the new democracy.

In the United States, he built his own legal business and ran twice successfully for office. He worked hard and distinguished himself in Westchester’s Board of Legislators. He has great potential and would be a great representative in US Congress for the new district 16th which now encompasses also his hometown, Yorktown.

I have had the pleasure to know Vedat in person. I have seen him grow from a young man to becoming a successful lawyer, community activist, and public servant.

Coincidentally, this is the district that my good friend, Eliot Engel represented in US Congress for 32 years. Engel made history by serving as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He founded and co-chaired the Albanian Issues Caucus. Engel supported the cause of Kosova with great passion, but he helped Albanians in their fight for freedom and democracy everywhere in the Balkans. I worked with him for more than three decades and I am proud of that work.

Vedat Gashi will continue Eliot Engel’s work with the same determination and pride.

He is a great candidate, not just for the Albanian community, but for everyone in his district. He is a Yorktown and Westchester son, a true New Yorker and a proud American. He is a Democrat with great appeal to voters from all walks of life and will serve with honesty and dignity.

Let’s give him the support he needs in this historic challenge.

Harry Bajraktari is founder and publisher of Illyria newspaper (1991-1998), an Albanian-American community leader, philanthropist and recipient of many awards, including the Honor of the Nation Order by the President of Albania, Kosova’s Presidential Medal for Merits & the White House Presidential Call to Service Award.