My name is Nick Di Iorio, and I’m running for Congress here in New York’s 12th District. To me, New York is a city of hope, a place where people come for a new life. I am proud to call New York my home. It is a place where I feel welcome, a place where I feel I have the chance to be a part of something bigger than myself. It’s the only place I want to live, because it’s given me so much. It has taught me the meaning of community and has given me friends I cherish. I want to give back to New York by representing the 12th District in Congress.
I grew up in Rhode Island, the son of two caring parents and the sibling of two brothers, Matthew and my twin Andrew. A sense of belonging – to both family and community – shaped my childhood. In my family’s home, all were welcome. The living room was our little “Grand Central Terminal”. Our home was a place where anyone and everyone was invited to dinner, to be part of the family. Being in an environment of community and responsibility attracted me to become a Catholic priest.
For six years, I served the community by preparing to be a Catholic priest. In the process, I completed a Bachelor’s Degree at Providence College in Rhode Island. Through my priestly formation, I came to know thousands of teachers, students, prisoners, elderly and hospital patients. I learned what it means to listen to the lonely, to love the stranger, and to be present to people from all walks of life. In this journey of personal growth, I came to realize priesthood was ultimately not for me. The priesthood is a special life of service, but I realized that having a family and giving to my community was also a way to serve.
I moved to New York City in 2010. I completed a Master’s degree in Philosophy at Fordham University and I began working in the healthcare industry as a contractor with Pfizer. I learned how the healthcare industry operates and the problems the healthcare industry faces. I also came to understand how companies like Pfizer think about taxes, legal issues, and government regulations. My colleagues made me proud to be a part of the shared mission to help bring about a healthier world.
I look forward to serving New Yorkers through my experience serving others and working in the private sector.
Several years ago, I learned that my family was on welfare and food stamps for a year before I was born. This was a complete surprise for me. My father had been hurt on the job and lost his job soon after. My family couldn’t afford the heating bill or a full week’s groceries. So they enrolled in public assistance.
I always thought that welfare was for other people; it wasn’t for me and it wasn’t for my family. And it made me realize how important these programs are to a lot of New Yorkers. From my perspective, it’s important that we make sure these programs are around not only for the present generation, but for generations to come.
I was a Democrat for most of my life because they virtually never opposed expanding programs for the needy and the disadvantaged. I have a handicapped brother who is dependent on the services he receives from both Rhode Island and the federal government. It is important to me that he always has these benefits and resources.
But something started to bother me about Democratic solutions: they didn’t always work. After decades of Democratic-controlled government, New York still has a poverty problem. New York’s public schools are struggling. Inequality is rising. I believe it is misguided to help the needy by proposing failed policies.
It also bothered me that Democratic solutions were all the same. Reduce poverty? Democrats said spend even more on welfare benefits. Improve education? Democrats said spend even more funding our schools. Reduce inequality? Democrats said increase taxes so we can spend even more.
Then I realized something. Democratic policies have led people to rely on the government. I believe the government should rely on the people. And so I became a Republican.
Everyone has a gift. Whether it is greeting customers with a welcoming smile or building cloud-based computer software, everyone has something valuable to contribute to society. When a problem arises, communities and individuals should be the first to attempt a solution. State and local governments should try next. Using our gifts and giving our talents to our neighbors strengthens our community and gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. Moreover, such state and local solutions are usually faster and more effective. When solving problems, the federal government should be a last resort. Expanding federal programs is sometimes effective, but not always.
I believe people are the source of government power. It’s important to remember that government solutions are usually ideas developed by gifted people outside Congress. And without collecting taxes from the people, government could not exist. That means I listen to people’s needs and listen to people’s ideas for a better society. To fight poverty, job training programs may be more effective than expanding welfare. Charter schools may be more effective than expanding education spending. Comprehensive tax reform may fight inequality better than simply taxing the rich more.
I am a staunch defender of programs that provide a social safety net. But many programs, like the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), can be improved by making a few small adjustments. Democrats have refused to budge. I believe the most effective policies balance spending with prudence. It is always best to listen to people and then formulate policy based on what helps people, not what builds bureaucracy.
Government policies are only part of the solution. For a better life and a better world, we need to share our gifts with people around us. I am running for Congress because I want to remind people that they have something valuable to give and New York needs their gifts.