ITHACA, N.Y. — For the first time locally, six candidates vying for the chance to take on Tom Reed (or another Republican candidate) in the next election, spoke at a Q&A at Ithaca Town Hall Tuesday night.
The Ithaca Voice streamed the event live as attendees asked questions about job creation, clean energy, the opioid epidemic, job creation, and the strategic plan to beat out the Republican candidate in 2018, among many other issues. The Q&A lasted about two hours, and the live stream can still be watched below (The candidates begin speaking about 15 minutes into the video):
Video by Mike Blaney/The Ithaca Voice
The candidates in attendance included Max Della Pia, Rick Gallant, Ian Golden, John Hertzler, Tracy Mitrano and Eddie Sundquist. Read briefly about the candidates here.
But for those who are are looking for a wrap-up of the event, here are some of the best quotes from each candidate:
Max Della Pia
Pia spent most of his adult life in the military after growing up in Michigan. He joined the Air Force directly out of high school and flew C-130s for more than six years before earning a law degree.
He grew up in a military family and his own son is in the military currently stationed in the United Kingdom. His oldest daughter is a mechanical engineer and youngest works on a farm in Candor.
- “One of the things that really drives me crazy is watching the loss of our democracy. Special interests are eating everything – everything is decided by special interests.”
- “Let me give you an anecdote – after six and a half years of practicing law, I quit my job as an attorney when the Gulf War started. I said, ‘My country needs me.’ I went to the Middle East, and when I came back, I went full time with the air force reserves in active duty for the next 18 years. I am here to make a difference, but I can’t do it without you. I see hope in the activism.”
- “This will not be easy. Tom Reed thinks it’s funny that there are so many people running in this election. I think it’s an indication that all is not well for him – he’s ready to go. (Reed) is only one person and he’s spending most of his time on the phone with special interest. We are seven or so people and we are a force to be reckoned with when we work together.”
- “We do have to be positive and have a plan for economic development, healthcare, and the environment, but we also have to join hands with people who aren’t over the last election. If we fight with those who are on one side or the other, we will fail, but I see hope in the fact that people realize how important their votes are.”
- “Fair trade and open trade is the best because, ideally, everyone does something, they do what they do best, we get the most for our money, and the exchange goes on. But that’s not the way China works – fair trade is really what we need to focus on. When we don’t take aggressive action against people who dump things on our economy, who aren’t playing fair and we just take it, we need to take action. We need to have fair trade with people who have environmental controls and workers rights.”
Gallant is a teacher, coach and union activist. He is a union leader for the New York State United Teachers Board of Directors. He is a registered Democrat.
- “I am very concerned about health insurance and the budget cuts to education. I teach kids who are at high risk – I teach kids who are expelled, suspended or on a long term medical leave and some of the things that will go by the wayside with the budget cuts are things like free and reduced lunches, after school programs, social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, special education programs… unless you fit through one of these extremely narrow little holes in the box, you’re going to be left out.”
- “I am also paying a Discover student loan bill and a Navient bill for both of my daughters – I do that willingly because they can’t afford to. I also pay, as part of the ACA program, my younger daughter’s health insurance. We need to find a way so people don’t have to decide between buying school supplies for their kids, lunches for their kids, or sending their kids to the doctor when they have a rattling cough.”
- “This country was founded on the good of the whole. Everything that I talk about is based on the good of the whole. We need to look at everything we’re doing and make sure it fosters the good of the whole. We need to embrace that and everything else will follow.”
- “We have to make sure that we don’t act like we know everything. We have to enact people who know exactly what they’re doing. We all have different areas of expertise and different things we bring to the table. As we move forward, I am confident we will rely on each other in those different areas. Our beef is not with each other, it is with the current congressman. We”re going to do whatever we have to do to make sure the person who comes out at the other end has the best possible chance. We have committed to that – We have a way bigger issue that we’re dealing with here other than dealing with each other.”
- “It’s very likely that the coffee you drank this morning was not a fair trade product. There are things that we really need to be aware of, and one of them is making sure that where we buy goods from, they play by the same rules that we do in our country. There’s no reason we can’t do those things here, we just need to have incentives and make sure there are repercussions for those who aren’t following the same rules.”
Golden, 46, describes himself as a progressive candidate who grew up in rural Pennsylvania on the flank of Lancaster County. Golden says he came to Ithaca as a student and later established himself as a small business owner. He now runs The Finger Lakes Running and Triathalon Company on the corner of The Commons and lives in Ithaca with his wife and two young daughters.
- “I’m running for Congress because I’m worried that the world being created and being left for my children and your children is divided and unsustainable with shrinking opportunities for them to pursue their dreams.”
- “As a small business owner here in our district, I’ve experienced how hard it is to not only get a business off the ground but to keep the lights on,” Golden said. “The true value of wage is falling and expense is rising, leaving too many families choosing between heat or groceries and yielding an unconscionable 30 percent child poverty rate across our district.”
- “Our system of government is broken and corrupted – it appears our legislator works hard and holds more town halls than most, but unfortunately seems more focused on making the wealthy even wealthier and appeasing those who will bring him up through the party and leaving most of us – if we’re lucky – working multiple jobs to make ends meet.”
- “I don’t intend to run another campaign to bring in loads of money that does little to actually benefit communities, which is more focused on photo ops, wine and cheese or expecting to receive endorsements without earning them first. We already have too many politicians in our government who are doing just that. I have platforms that are focused on reducing corruption of officials, strengthening american entrepreneurs and officiant revamping infrastructures of energy grids in sustainable ways supporting our vast agricultural base with the environment reforms they have been asking for. I’m here to make a difference – to be the change and a voice for all people creating a new narrative, morality and cause, community and country.”
- “I think that we’re all coming from different parts of this district and some of us are very excited for a primary. We will be a much more powerful body by the end, and I’m very excited about that. I don’t believe that we will have an easy time running toe-to-toe with (Reed) on his own terms. I’m here because I’m part of a movement, I’m here to do things differently. I think if we’ve seen anything, people respond to movements, they don’t respond to campaigns, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
Hertler, who played Klingon General Martok on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” has spent a life in the theater, which he said is an asset to his campaign and name recognition.
He studied political science at Bucknell University, earned a masters in communication from the University of Maryland and began pursuing a law degree before deciding a year later he didn’t want to be a lawyer.
Hertler has worked in environmental national policy act office, was a union actor and writer, was arrested at Crestwood while protesting the storage of natural gas at Seneca Lake, and is a member of the Ulysses Town Board.
- “I would like to get out of the middle east. I think it’s clear that its an unwinnable war – the brave men and women who fight are one thing, but the idiots who bring us into it in the first place are another thing.”
- “First of all, we should be in the middle of a 9-year program to get off of fossil fuels and into alternative energies. We got to the moon and back in 9 years safely. How can you say that we can’t get a shift to alternative energies in more than 50-60 years or to create jobs in alternative energies? There is so much infrastructure that has to be built to make this transition. There would be hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
- “I do have the ability to say that I have some name recognition across the country and across this district because of my work on television for 40 years, which is a two-edged sword. I’ve been an actor for 45 years,and I’ve been a political activist for 55 years. This is basically putting it together for me, I don’t have to spend as much money on name recognition. But I want to retail, knock on peoples doors and ask what they need – that I am planning to do, and I have plenty of time to do it.”
- “All I have is an idea – we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everything that I have seen happening with this president has been diametrically opposed to those three things and that’s what I would labor to do – I would labor to include those specific aspects of our foundations in every piece of legislation that I author.”
- “We can build things – it’s not just a cyber economy. Control of information is important, but information itself is not anymore important than building furniture.”
Mitrano was a graduate student in Binghamton before coming to Ithaca in 1986 to teach at Ithaca College. Nine years later, she graduated from the law school at Cornell University and practiced at a downtown law firm. She became the director of IT policy at Cornell in 2001 and retired 13 years later.
Since then, Mitrano has run a consulting business and created a private-public partnership with the University of Massachusetts.
- “I chose to stay close and stay in this district. I am a lifelong democrat, and I’ve lived entirely in Central, Western and Southern Tier New York. Since beginning this exploration, I have learned a great deal about this district – it is hurting. Most of it is agricultural and is represented in Congress by someone whose immigration and monetary policies are sorely out of step with agricultural interests. Healthcare affects everybody, especially in the light of the opioid crisis, but our representative misses the universal healthcare mark.”
- “If you want to think of the U.S. in very broad strokes, when the U.S. was founded we were an agricultural society, we became an industrial society and we thrived under that paradigm, but the global economic is now information. It is not genuinely possible to be competitive either as a district in New York, as a district in this county, or a country in the global context unless all of the country is connected to that conduit which uses information as the commodity. I believe we must have at least that basic level, but I want to emphasize how important it is to transform education with that, how important it is to include people in health, culture, government and commerce and it will be absolutely critical for us to move forward.”
- “In regards to cyber security, I don’t know any other congressional candidate who has that ability, and it sure seems as if we can use it.”
- “I think we have to educate ourselves and the poeple on the other side of the fence. If we can mobilize ourselves and go out to talk to people and create that conversation, then we have a chance. But it’s not about dominating someone else’s opinion or trying to be the one who’s right – it’s about finding what’s going to work for all of us.”
- “I do believe we have to make this personal, we have to make it clear and we have to make it honest. I mentioned that I was the only able child (in my family) – I have a brother who is developmentally disabled after accidents at birth. He was institutionalized in 1958 and as a child, I remember seeing the quality of the institution and thinking it was what nightmares were made of. It was only after Medicaid and federal and state alignment in funding for people like him that here emerged group homes that treated people with developmental disabilities in a humane way. He cannot speak for himself. We also have to speak for the people whose interests Tom Reed does not represent.”
Sundquis was born and raised in Jamestown. He went to St. John Fisher College in Rochester before going to Philadelphia and working as an alternative school teacher for about two years. He got a masters from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Buffalo. He practices law in Jamestown.
- “When this wave of Trump came along, at the end of the day, I needed to do something. I needed to recognize the fact that this area and district has literally become the land that time forgot. We need more than anything to get the people in this area back to work and to bring 21st century jobs to this area. Why aren’t we manufacturing wind farms here in the district? Why are we shipping them back from China? Why aren’t we taking federal dollars, re-training the people that are here, and putting them back to work? Why aren’t we building broadband across this district? Why aren’t we doing anything about the opioid crisis? We did a million things for the Zika virus, but we haven’t done anything with the opioid crisis that affects every person here.”
- “There are two things that we need – fundraising is huge. More importantly, as democrats, we need to stop messaging as being against things and start being for things. As I have been going forward in my campaign, that is what I’ve been trying to do. Let’s try and think about what we’re for instead of what we’re against – that’s what going to make a difference.”
- “I am very passionate about the way we look at our criminal justice system and criminal justice refom. I’m a big advocate of restorative justice and restorative practices. I’m would like to be able to provide federal grants for organizations and courthouses that help to change the way we look at incarceration, to prevent people from being incarcerated and focus on getting them back into the community.”
- “What we need more than anything is we should be making things here. “We should be using the work force that we have in order to get the supplies that we need in order to make us more self-sustaining. There is a lot in terms of a global economy in making sure we’re still able to import things and export things, but we’ve got people, we’ve got supplies and we need to be tapping into our natural resources more.”
- “(The opioid epidemic) actually ends up coming down to a race issue. Some people may disagree. A war on drugs began becasue white people started doing certain drugs. We don’t look at the opiod crisis as a crisis nationally because its not necessarily impacting the right people – it’s not impacting all of the white people, and that has a lot to do with the way we look at this across the nation. I totally disagree with a tougher stance on drugs and a tougher stance federally and statewide. We have to realize this is impacting everyone, it doesn’t matter what race you are, it’s impacting you, me and everyone’s family.”