Rebuilding our region means creating jobs. I understand the importance of sustainable jobs with decent living wages in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. My parents worked for General Electric before most of those jobs disappeared. I will push for banks to lend to small businesses so they can expand and create the jobs we need. I will work to draw investments and businesses to the district, including those in growth industries like tech and clean energy so that we can match the trained workers to the businesses that need them. I will fight for policies that reward investment and job creation in the district, not outsourcing. And I will oppose any trade agreements that are not beneficial to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
Protecting the jobs of the hundreds of thousands of teachers, healthcare workers, service workers, farmers, and factory workers in the district, requires investing in those industries and communities, and protecting the resources upon which they rely. I want to ensure that local small businesses are no longer crippled by regulations while massive corporations play by their own set of rules. I will be an ally to small businesses, workers, and labor unions, not big corporations and special interests. And I will fight to increase the minimum wage.
For most of my childhood, I was educated in the public school system of upstate New York. I understand that a high-quality public education is the key to creating opportunities that will allow our children to realize the American Dream. Along with many of the Hudson Valley’s and the Catskill’s educators, school boards, parents, and students, I oppose the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I believe that our children are our greatest resource, but for years, they have been treated like failing commodities. We need to invest in public education to make sure that all of our children get the education they deserve. For those who dream of going to college, I will work to make college more affordable for every member of our district, by expanding Pell Grants and increasing opportunities for student loan forgiveness and relief. That means new opportunities both for high school kids as well as folks who want to go to college later in life. Lastly, while college was my ticket to building a better life for my family, many kids see a different future for themselves. College should not be the only way to the middle class. Our community needs to reinvest in trade school and apprenticeship programs that teach our kids the real world skills that they need to get good-paying jobs—the kind that used to be enough to build a good life, with a home, family, and savings for retirement.
The Hudson Valley and the Catskills present countless opportunities for investment in infrastructure. I will work to obtain federal funding to finance local construction projects that will create both short-term and long-term jobs, and improve the lives of those who live in the region.
The President has talked tough about pushing for a bipartisan infrastructure bill, but has indicated that he intends to offer tax breaks for privatized projects rather than funding public works. I oppose such a giveaway to corporations, which favors corporate profits over community needs, and incentivizes companies to build as little as possible rather than undertaking the robust development that we need here in our region. We need to bid those contracts out in a fair process that lets small businesses actually compete and results in lasting improvements to our shared facilities and services.
I will seek funding for projects that address the most immediate needs and that serve the greatest public good in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, including repairs for the Taconic Parkway, development of our public waterfront, investment in high speed rail for Metro North, and wider access to broadband internet in the rural areas of our district.
The Hudson Valley and the Catskills are known for their natural beauty, and we rely on the natural resources of these regions for both personal use and industry. I want to ensure that our environmental policies and regulations protect the Hudson Valley and the Catskills for the boaters, hunters, fishers, hikers, and sightseers who enjoy our river, our mountains, and our forests year-round – as well as the merchants who rely on servicing these pastimes for their livelihoods. Faso’s decision to overturn the Stream Protection Rule and jeopardize our water quality is an example of exactly what our political leaders should not be doing. With the importance of tourism to our local businesses, policies like these not only undermine the quality of our environment, but also endanger the health of our economy. I will work to protect the Hudson River from proposals such as the recent plan to establish new anchorages for oil tankers near communities like Kingston. I will also fight to ensure that communities like Hoosick Falls never face a water crisis like the one they’ve faced over the past few years, and that no residents of the Hudson Valley or the Catskills are exposed to contaminated water. Finally, I do not believe that job creation and environmental conservation need to be in conflict. Clean energy is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy, and I will do everything I can to encourage the growth of clean energy jobs in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
Congressman John Faso has spent his time in Washington D.C. working to take health insurance away from millions of Americans for no reason other than to create a huge tax giveaway to the wealthiest one percent. Faso supported every healthcare bill proposed by the Republicans in Congress in 2017, despite the fact they would hurt people with pre-existing conditions by making insurance unaffordable, strip Medicaid away from America’s most vulnerable families, send healthcare money from New York to other states, and leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance. Furthermore, Faso supported slashing funding for women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood, despite his promises that he would not do so.
I understand that access to healthcare means nothing if no one can actually afford to pay for it, and that our small businesses have struggled to meet the health insurance needs of their employees. I will fight for universal, affordable, and quality healthcare for everyone. It is a travesty that we are the only developed country in the world without universal coverage.
We must explore all paths to providing universal coverage including making Medicare available to anyone who wants it. I prefer this option because it gives individuals the choice to keep their preferred coverage, while having the effect of driving down premiums and deductibles in the marketplace. I will also work to eliminate laws and regulations that protect the pharmaceutical companies at the expense of the health of everyday Americans, and will work to give Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices.
I support women’s rights to make their own health care decisions. Unlike Congressman John Faso, who has called Roe v. Wade a “black mark upon this country,” and voted for a health care bill that defunded Planned Parenthood, I will fight to defend women’s rights from an assault by the current President and Republican-led Congress.
I will also work to ensure that women earn equal pay for equal work. It is deeply troubling that Faso voted against equal pay four times while a member of the New York State Assembly; his is not a voting record consistent with the values of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
The Republican tax scam is a travesty. These tax cuts for the wealthy are projected to increase the national debt by more than $1 trillion - debt that will be balanced on the back of working people. Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that the Republican leadership will tackle this debt with cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare - programs our friends, family and neighbors rely on. That's wrong.
Unlike Trump, John Faso, and their Washington Republican cronies, I believe we need to create a tax code that works for working people and the middle class. I will vehemently oppose any proposal that funnels tax dollars to the super rich at the expense of working families. I want to simplify our tax code and get rid of the loopholes that are only available to the super rich, and make the system more fair.
I believe that we are a nation of immigrants, and that the Hudson Valley and the Catskills benefit from a sensible and compassionate immigration policy. I understand that immigrants come to this region to fill important roles in every industry, ranging from the physicians who come to work at rural hospitals to the seasonal workers our farmers rely upon to bring in the harvest. How we treat our immigrant population should illustrate our highest ideals of who we are as Americans and New Yorkers. I will fight for immigration policies that reflect the character and decency of the people of the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
As a lawyer who has donated countless hours of pro-bono services to people and communities of need,including juveniles serving mandatory life sentences, I recognize criminal justice reform as one of the most pressing issues of our time. For too long, our lawmakers have enacted ineffective policies in a failing war on drugs, while countless families in the Hudson Valley and Catskills have lost loved ones to addiction. In recent years, our district has been one of the regions hit hardest by the rising opioid epidemic, and its costs have been born by all of us, regardless of race, economic status, or political party.
We need to reform the system to account for this harsh reality. I will work with healthcare professionals and other experts to enact policies that treat rather than criminalize drug addiction. I will fight to increase funding for proven alternatives to incarceration, including treatment programs, drug courts, and mental health courts. And I will commit to supporting efforts to exonerate the wrongfully convicted through the use of DNA testing. It is time that we face this crisis head on, with empathy, not animus; with ideas, not impulse; and with courage, not politics.
I am deeply concerned that our democracy has been under assault in recent years. A small minority of the super-rich and powerful have sought to control our elections using dark money, massive redistricting efforts, and campaigns to repress voter rights. Simultaneously, our President has expressed his contempt for the Constitution both by questioning the role of the Judicial Branch and by lining his pockets with payments from foreign powers in violation of the Emoluments Clause. I believe that we need to immediately fight to preserve the integrity of our Democracy, by pushing for reform to address Citizens United, gerrymandering, and the restriction of voters’ rights. And unlike President Trump and his hollow promises to “drain the swamp”, I will actually work to eliminate corruption and cronyism in Washington D.C.
Russia and Our Elections
The outcome of our elections should be determined by American voters, not a foreign government that may not share our country's interests or our values. In 2016, according to the unanimous, nonpartisan opinion of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, the government of Russia stole private information from American citizens, ensured that information was published, and spread targeted fake news stories on American social media. The goal of these new and disturbing tactics was to undermine the credibility of our election and ensure that President Trump was elected.
Now, the FBI and multiple Congressional Committees are investigating whether the Trump campaign worked with the Russian officials who committed these crimes. Unlike Congressman John Faso and Republicans in Congress, my goal is to prioritize uncovering the truth, not to protect the President. I support the investigation led by the independent Special Counsel and the ongoing work of Congress and the FBI to ensure that we may understand precisely what happened—and can prevent it from ever happening again.
Rural Economic Development
New York has the third largest rural population in the United States and the natural resources of the 19th District are a crucial source of economic growth and opportunity in the region. The Hudson Valley and Catskills are home to numerous opportunities for sustainable agriculture. The dynamics in the food supply chain have changed dramatically in recent years, with more Americans expressing a demand for organic and locally grown food. The way forward economically is to help farmers and farm-dependent businesses take advantage of these changes. We must invest in local infrastructure, including distribution and processing plants, better roads and transit options, and increased access to broadband. Making these investments will allow the District to meet the needs of the local community and beyond. No one in an area with such plentiful agricultural resources should go hungry or be shut out from providing good nutritious meals for their families.
Additionally, I want to connect local agribusinesses with private capital and public funding, and reinforce public programs designed to protect those industries. Dairy farms are the biggest agricultural revenue source in NY-19, and in recent decades, the federal government has failed them. I support improving the effectiveness of federal insurance programs like the Margin Protection Program, or even reinstating a robust price support program, so that our federal policies and priorities reflect the changing landscape of this industry and the changing needs of small dairy farms. It is critical that we protect funding for rural development and farmers in our community, rather than slash it as has been proposed by the Trump administration. I understand that the increased economic activity that this would facilitate is good for the entire region.
It’s clear we have a gun violence problem in this country. What happened in Las Vegas, Parkland Florida, and so many other places is profoundly heartbreaking.
We absolutely need to address this problem. It is a public health crisis and it is unconscionable that Congress refuses to let the Centers for Disease Control even study gun violence. People on the no fly list, domestic abusers, violent criminals and those with mental health issues should not be able to legally purchase firearms. We need universal background checks, to close the gun show loop hole, and to stop selling bump stocks. There’s no reason for people to be walking the street with military style assault weapons. It is even worse that representatives like John Faso vote to make it easier for people who are mentally ill to buy guns. Faso has taken thousands from the NRA and votes exactly the way the gun lobby wants so he can get his "A" rating. I reject the gun lobby and I will never take their money. I respect the rights of gun owners, and want the gun laws in this country to reflect the needs of real gun-owners, not the agenda pursued by the NRA and its captive politicians like John Faso.