Paul Ryan First Impressions: From Bay Ridge to Bushwick

Home Brooklyn Life Paul Ryan First Impressions: From Bay Ridge to Bushwick
Credit: Associated Press

It’s been three days. On August 11, Mitt Romney announced that Paul Ryan would be his running mate, reigniting the presidential race. What does Brooklyn think about that? To answer the question, Brooklyn Ink reporters fanned across the borough, asking residents how they felt about the congressman from Wisconsin and his controversial “Path to Prosperity” budget plan.

Of the 307 people surveyed, almost half were able to identify who Paul Ryan is, and around one-third of the total surveyed, 102 people, were willing to weigh in on the Tea Party-supported representative.

Here are some of them. In the slideshow below, Brooklynites from Bushwick to Coney Island share their thoughts on everything from Ryan’s fiscal policies to the “dreaminess” of his eyes. We’ll be checking back in from time to time to see how the largest borough’s thoughts on Ryan evolve as the campaign marches toward November.

Gordon Chambers
42, Grammy Award-Winning Music Producer, Fort Greene
“He’s young, he’s marketable, he’s photogenic, but his politics are as right wing as they come. He’s being packaged, but he’s insidious. … I think he’s horribly unqualified. It’s been many decades since someone from the House has gone for Presidential or Vice President. … I hope his being on the ticket will galvanize the apathetic Democrats.”

Valerie Lenon-Reed
31, Social Worker, Brooklyn Heights
“I don’t understand where he came from. Like what are the prominent, identifying elements they think make him a strong running mate? I don’t get it. I’m not identifying with him. I don’t see how he’s going to be effective.”


Erik Shieh
31, Teacher, Williamsburg
“It takes the nation to a place that we don’t want to go as a society.”

Lana Coren
60, Certified Public Accountant, Carroll Gardens
“I think that he’ll add a lot to the debate. … I think he’s trying something new, which we desperately need. … I’m a fiscal conservative person and I think we’re spending way too much money. He’s trying to rein in a lot of Medicare costs, which I think is good. And even though I’m approaching the age of getting Medicare costs and I’d be affected by that, I still think it’s something that is important. Something has to be done or there won’t be anything for the next generation. … And I’m a registered Democrat but a fiscal conservative.” Coren is a registered Democrat who plans to vote Republican for the first time this year.

David Whitwell
25, Trombonist, Roosevelt Island
“Obviously this wedge has started to be driven in, in the center of our social demographics. So, you know, the further in the wedge goes, the poorer the poor get, the richer the rich get, and then the middle class becomes non-existent. And eventually we’ll have something that looks like Jamaica right now. In Jamaica there is no middle class at all. You’re either extremely poor or you’re extremely wealthy. and that’s not the way, you know, for a cognitive species to really develop itself. You know, I don’t like that.”

April Casciato
42, Artist, Boerum Hill
“He’s not for the voters at all, he’s for the SuperPAC. His budget is irrelevant to the election. That’s not what they chose him for, It’s his personal values. That and he’s very white. He’s really, really white.”


Charlie Van Scyoc,
28, NYU Fundraiser, Carroll Garden.
“He is like Mr. Budget, right. I think he is in a great shape. I’m envious. He used to be a professional trainer, but nobody seems to know that about him. I don’t think I agree with his politics but I agree with his physical training.”

Gabriel Wurzel
27, Musician, Bushwick
“Not a big fan, he’s got great eyes though, I’ll give him that. I think there should be less funding for military purposes and more for education, in social services and public health care.”


Sherry Heit
57, Legal Secretary, Park Slope
“I’m glad he’s not Sarah Palin, and I’m a feminist. … His policies are selfish and hurt people who are fragile already. … It’s going to cut off people that are already at the edge.”


Timmy Grins

34, Ices Salesman, Sunset Park

“I’m a fan of what they’ve done in Wisconsin in terms of fiscal responsibility. But I’m still not sold on him and Mitt Romney. Paul Ryan is a young guy, very ambitious. He’s very young for a Vice Presidential candidate. I’d say the jury is out because he is young, relatively inexperienced.  I see why they’re doing it but it’s not gonna get my vote.”


Nate Metzker

34, Singer/Songwriter & Educator,

“He seems completely oblivious to the suffering of other people. He seems to want to destroy Medicaid as we know it. Now, if you want to go about dismantling society, that’s one way to do it.”


Walter Lewis

81, Retired

“For an old man like me, Paul Ryan brings nothing. Whatever else be his views, you just can’t mess with Medicare.  You take that away and I feel this is what I get after working hard all my life?”


Ted Bartell

70, Retired, Clinton Hill

So far, I like some things he said – he’s anti-this, anti-that. Anti-same-sex marriage, anti-abortion. I am, too. He’s young, too, only 42 I think. That’s good.


Felix Marruvio

37, Salesman, Sunset Park

“He wants to wipe out the people who keep the city together. Romney’s pick makes no sense to me.”


John Marino

74, Driver, Bay Ridge

“Obama did nothing, and you need a change, not for anything. … Listen to me, I don’t care who or what. They gotta do something.”


Janet Smith
58, Unemployed, Brownsville

“He’s gonna put our place to catastrophe. He’s gonna cut everything.  He’s a no no.”


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