MALONE — People gave praise and pause for Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik as she stopped in Malone on Friday to continue her Coffee with Your Congresswoman meetings.
Inside the AMVETS Post 8 on County Route 25, about 50 people came out to attend the forum. For some it was a chance to hear her stance on local and national issues.
One of the heated discussions came when Stefanik mentioned her stance on the impeachment of President Donald Trump. She wants lawmakers to hold an impeachment vote but says her vote would be a clear no.
“Historically, there have been three cases of impeachment, and in each case there has been a vote to start the impeachment inquiry. So right now we are having witness testimonies with no set rules, no ability for the Republicans to call witnesses,” said the Schuylerville congresswoman.
Stefanik, who is serving her third term representing New York’s 21st Congressional District, has spent the week traveling across the 12-county North County district to hold a series a town hall style meetings, talking about issues of local and national importance.
Commenting on the arrest of two Russians who have worked with the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Stefanik says she wants justice served.
“I am deeply concerned and I think that the prosecution should prosecute these two individuals involved,” she said.
The two were arrested Wednesday on charges stemming from their alleged efforts to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections and influence U.S. politics on behalf of at least one unnamed Ukrainian politician. The two were attempting to flee the country when they were arrested, law enforcement officials have said.
In a rare break from her support for President Donald Trump, Stefanik criticized the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.
“I was horrified by the loss of life that we are likely to see in Syria,” Stefanik said. “I disagree with the president’s decision to pull out all U.S. troops. My concern over the long term is as we seek to work with allies and partners, they are going to doubt that America is going to stand with them in the long run.”
The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria is a move that Stefanik feels could permanently damage the United States’ relationship with the Kurds, who worked with the U.S. to defeat the Islamic State but are now under attack by Turkey in the area vacated by American troops.
“I think it is going to be very difficult to salvage the relationship with the Kurds,” Stefanik said. “It is heartbreaking and horrifying and we should not be leaving our allies. It was the wrong decision by this administration.”
Stefanik said she is someone who supports the president, but when she disagrees with him, she is going to speak out.
Stefanik also touched on a case heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court about gender equality and if workplaces have the right to terminate someone based on their sexual orientation.
“I voted for the Equality Act and I think we should not discriminate against individuals based upon their sexual orientation,” said Stefanik.
Turning her attention to more local issues, Stefanik said she has been disappointed by the state’s unfulfilled promise to bring broadband internet service to every part of New York.
“At the federal level, I am one of the leads on the Rural Broadband For All Act. In the Farm Bill, which we passed this December, there was increased funds made available for rural broadband because so many of our farms rely on technology,” said Stefanik.
The congresswoman also noted the gaps in cell phone coverage in some areas, a situation she said is a definite safety concern.
“Cell phone gaps for emergency service agencies, it is a safety issue. We absolutely need to connect and have cell phone coverage throughout the area,” said Stefanik. “It is not just a public safety issue but it is also an economic issue,”
Although her current term does not expire until the end of next year, she is already locked in a reelection battle against Democrat Tedra Cobb in a rematch of last year’s contest. Cobb is a longtime resident of Northern New York who says she is committed to fighting the opioid crisis, boosting the economy and addressing gun violence.
As the race heats up, Stefanik says she is confident.
“I think it is interesting that over the past three years, my opponent has had one press availability. I just completed my 1,000th event this past August. I cross this community constantly and I am proud of my results,” said Stefanik.