Kirsten Gillibrand: 'New Ideas to Bring Real Change' (NY-20)
by krobin Tue Aug 29, 2006 at 09:44:28 AM PDT

This past weekend, I went up to my grandfather's farm in Upstate NY to try that whole "writer's retreat" thing...and wound up at the street fair downtown munching on kettle corn and chatting with the folks at the Democratic Party booth about the candidates. Yes...Hillary was discussed...as was Eliot Spitzer...and a few others. But one of the two people who were given high high praise from typically taciturn upstaters was Kirsten Gillibrand. What I heard from them spoke of change, reform, and accountability--a breath of fresh air and sunshine for the halls of Congress.

The title is only part of a quote from Kirsten Gillibrand. Here's the rest of it:
"In Congress, I'll use New Ideas to bring Real Change. The People of this district [NY-20] deserve a real voice in Washington."
Man oh man...is she right about that.

For too long the People of NY-20 have been set aside in favor of John Sweeney's greed personal interests. (NB: Sweeney's activities have been written about on Dkos as well as over at both SourceWatch and Wikipedia. While his record can be found over at Project Vote Smart and The Washington Post, his fundraising information can be found at OpenSecrets. Mr. Sweeney? What were you doing in that Mob down in Miami? Why were you part of the effort to prevent democracy in action? How are those investigations going re: Abramoff and Andrew Card's brother?)

Anyhoo, like Kirsten Gillibrand, my NY-20 heritage goes back several generations. Although I do not currently live in my grandfather's hometown (I just spent a long 'writer's retreat' weekend on the farm), my personal connections to that area are pretty strong. And I have watched as the town I spent summers in hit the skids when small dairy farmers got slammed by the big agro-business type farms. Later, I celebrated as that same small town worked to re-define itself. One such community growth project is M-Ark Project. Another is the Catskill Mountain Foundation--a return to one of the region's earlier extra-curricular activities--cultural arts. During the summers, the Catskill Mountains provided an inspirational retreat for a variety of artists from playwright Brendan Behan to writer Jane Smiley. By joining in on a renaissance of the artistic, portions of the Catskills have begun to move away from the brink of permanent economic crisis. This shift hasn't been an easy one. Indeed, I have heard numerous tales from family members about a grumbling resistance to the on-going changes even as newcomers as well as ex-pats alter the town's dynamic. From what I'm hearing, much of the resistance is coming from an understandable fear of the unknown as well as a concern that the days of small dairy farming are numbered. However...in spite of the random confrontation, the changes going on in my grandfather's hometown are not only dramatic, but they also reflect creative, progressive thinking in action, which seeks to create a balance that benefits the Catskill Mountain region.

Some of the things that Kirsten is running on:
1. Reward hard work by providing middle-class tax relief through [needed] property tax credits, college tuition tax incentives, home heating assistance and an end to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
2. Personally pledge to ban gifts or trips from lobbyists and establish a non-partisan Congressional ethics committee
3. Oppose efforts to privatize social security and stand against government giveaways to big insurance and pharmaceutical companies
4. Reform the new Medicare prescription drug program and allow out government to negotiate cheaper prescription drug prices
5. Promote and protect the family farm in Upstate NY
6. Address rising gas prices and reach energy independence by investing in new energy sources and technologies
7. Supports reform of the GI Bill of Rights
8. Challenges congressional leadership and the current Administration to quit with the political rhetoric in order to find a successful EXIT strategy to end the war in Iraq.
This statement:
As a challenger for a Congressional seat, my guiding principle is one of improving representation and accountability. I am not afraid to put out policy ideas and will discuss them in open forums throughout the district during this campaign and hopefully well beyond. I believe the role of a public servant is to represent the people, discuss the issues and lead us toward solutions. Now is the time to offer concrete ideas about how to secure our safety and our children's futures, and I welcome the debate.--my emphasis
indicates to me that Kirsten Gillibrand has a spine and isn't afraid to use it.

Oddly, her continued challenges to incumbent John Sweeney for a debate on Iraq have gone unanswered. Perhaps her call for a new direction will do the trick. Somehow, I doubt that Mr. Sweeney is prepared for a real discussion on the situation in Iraq...especially with someone who has ideas and the willingness to disagree with the administration on the current "stay and sink" policy that has seriously damaged our credibility and is a threat to our national security.

Upstate New Yorkers, more specifically the residents of NY-20, need representation and leadership which reflects that creativity of spirit...and that stubborn independence that made folks like my grandparents and great-grandparents forces to be reckoned with.

From that discussion I had on Saturday, I can see why Kirsten Gillibrand is on the DFA Roster of Candidates. I think that Kirsten Gillibrand is the person to send John Sweeney back to Troy.

(note: No, I am not a volunteer for the Gillibrand campaign. But I heard good things about her this weekend. There's been a lot about Sweeney--not so much about the rising star who is his Democratic opponent. h/t to arion for putting up a brief diary on her last night...and to Lefty the playwright for pointing out that the Gillibrand campaign has an ActBlue account.)