This is the latest in a series from The Ithaca Voice introducing voters to their potential next U.S. House of Representatives member, despite the confusion around district lines. If more candidates declare, they will be profiled similarly. All profiles can be found at our 2022 Election landing page.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Jamie Cheney is the latest to join the Congressional race for the 19th U.S. House of Representatives District of New York, having switched gears from a state senate run but remaining a Democrat.

Growing up outside of Philadelphia before moving to a beef farm in the Hudson Valley, Cheney said that she understands the struggle of running a small business during a pandemic and the challenges of profiting on a small-scale farm while balancing work and family time.

“The government must do more for the business owners, farmers and caretakers of the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier. It needs work, and it needs to work for us,” her campaign website says.

Cheney began her campaigning career in May 2021 with a New York State Senate run in the 41st District before districts changed and 41 became the 43rd District, which was much more rural, something Cheney says she was thrilled with as her priorities lie with aiding the voices in rural communities.

As the districts got larger and changed, Cheney saw an opportunity to serve the populations she was passionate about on a Congressional level, switching her campaign May 21 and beginning her tour around the counties of NY-19.

Cheney said that she believes NY-19 needs a candidate with work experience in rural areas and already has communities across party lines as well as someone who has demonstrated a history of building that coalition.

“My career has been about advocating for working parents in a very large and well-established industry, and driving change at tables, where I think sometimes parties come to the table not thinking they want to change, or recognizing that we put aside our differences and work towards the things we all want, we can truly build something better,” she said.

Cheney said that her career in the rural communities allows her to know what those populations are looking for in a candidate — namely credibility, experience building and delivering within the communities. “That’s going to be a criteria for the candidate who can win this race, and I’m confident that I can.”

During her maternity leave with her third child, Cheney began working on a company that would solve the challenge parents face of childcare and the decision many have to make between working and spending time with their children.

Now also running that business with a partner, Cheney said, her leadership style has allowed her to bring as many voices as possible to the table in any conversation. “You can’t say what the solution is to a problem and expect people to jump on board, even if it’s the right, most brilliant solution,” she said, adding that solutions need to come from including more stakeholders.

“We haven’t pulled in every stakeholder where we are in our country right now,” she said. “People feel cut out of the conversation, they feel a lack of rust in processes they haven’t been a part of.”

Priorities

Cheney’s top priority is the cost of living in NY-19 — “I think that might feel ironic to say in a time of Roe [v. Wade] and guns and access to the ballot, but the reality is that […] even being able to think about those other two things, or any of these huge issues facing our country is a luxury good compared to the cost of living in our state right now.”

“Good dirt” is another of priority for Cheney. “People can say, ‘My number one issue is climate change,’ and that is the DNA of this district — a deep love for the land and a place where we are […] that’s not a party divide, and it’s something I’m hearing across the board — to protect that space,” she said.

Her third issue is the childcare and caregiver infrastructure: “That means everything from an accessible daycare spot that is nearby and doesn’t cost you twenty bucks in gas to get to or have a six-month waiting list, and availability of home health aides, senior care and transportation. We’re asking so many people to be participants in our economy, and we’re not building around that.”

Campaign

Cheney’s campaign announced June 1 that it is starting the month with more than $300,000 on hand to support outreach across the district. “I was thrilled to announce my run for Congress in New York’s new 19th Congressional District, and am humbled by the outpouring of support from across the district for this campaign,” she said.

Zoë Freer-Hessler

Zoë Freer-Hessler is a general assignment reporter for the Ithaca Voice. She has covered a wide range of topics since joining the news organization in November 2021. She can be reached at zhessler@ithacavoice.com...