Voting begins Saturday in New York in an atmosphere of immense political polarization where few people seem willing to engage in any kind of serious dialogue about issues and instead candidates seem to focus on superficial allegations of political ineptness.
Many of these issues are noisy but they are simplistic and do not address the questions challenging the 21st Congressional District. The next member of the U.S. House of Representatives elected from the north country will need experience, seniority and an understanding of what is important to the district.
We are extremely dependent upon the federal government’s continued investment in and commitment to Fort Drum — the largest single-site employer in the state, providing enormous economic activity throughout our community. The federal government using our local health care system has meant better medical care for all of us.
Fort Drum is energy independent, using our forest products to fuel a generator that provides all its electrical needs. Fort Drum is a critical user of internet bandwidth, resulting in immense investments in capacity from which we will benefit. And if the nation decides it needs to strengthen its anti-ballistic defense system, Fort Drum will be the center for that investment.
The north country is very dependent upon agriculture. The dairy industry provides the raw material for cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt and Greek yogurt. The apple orchards at the east end of Lake Ontario and in the Champlain Valley make New York state one of the nation’s largest producers of food for the country.
The district’s tourism industry provides jobs for many people, a fact sadly driven home by the pandemic.
The district has proven itself resilient for generations, coping with economic hard times and weather shocks because no one is afraid to work and work hard to support their neighbors and make life better. The district has endorsed Republicans and Democrats as president and worked closely with Washington leadership to enhance our way of life.
Unfortunately, this year the campaign for the House of Representatives seems to focus on President Donald Trump.
He is not the member of Congress from the north country. He is not running to represent us in Congress.
Voters have plenty of chances to express themselves on their ballots about him. What voters here must decide is who will better represent them in the House of Representatives.
This race is not about to what degree candidates have supported or criticized Mr. Trump. This race is not about individual military personnel issues but instead about investment in and sustainability of Fort Drum and an expanded mission.
This race is not about whether existing medical conditions should be covered by a federal health care program. Instead, it is about improving the system we have with affordable programs.
The political hysteria about the Affordable Care Act ignores the fact that since the law passed and coverage was expanded to many uninsured people, the north country’s health care system and especially some of its hospitals continued to atrophy.
The agricultural sectors need sensible access to migrant workers. The tourism industry needs support to restore a transportation system to being visitors to the north country.
Elise Stefanik has a clear record of success on these issues. She understands Fort Drum and its multi-layer nuance. She has exhibited a reasonable approach to bringing migrant labor to the north country to aid in the harvest of our bountiful crops.
She understands the shortfalls of the Affordable Care Act and supports structural reform. In the meantime, her efforts in Washington brought millions of dollars to north country hospitals shortchanged by illogical federal rules.
She has a proven record and has earned seniority. She deserves re-election and an opportunity to continue to make the north country a vibrant community. She can do exactly that no matter who becomes our next president.