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Clear Distinctions in Candidates Face Voters in Utica, Binghamton Congress District

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Voters in New York’s 22nd Congressional District have a pretty clear choice between two candidates who disagree on many major issues.  The district covers Oswego to Utica to Binghamton with diverse populations and interests. 

Incumbent Claudia Tenney spoke recently to seniors in New Hartford, trying to secure their vote.  Her campaign is pointing out problems she says would arise if democrat Anthony Brindisi wins the seat and if the democrats take over the house.  Tenney says that’s what happened with Obama-care, which she calls a dismal failure.

“We’ve given huge subsidies to able-bodied people who can work, over senior citizens and to the detriment of people with special needs.  So we’ve compromised the good parts of the public healthcare system.

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Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
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Tenney speaks to residents at New Hartford Senior Center.

She’d roll back support for expanded Medicare, instead focusing more on seniors.  Tenney co-sponsored the American health care act to keep premiums down, while mandating coverage of pre-existing conditions. 

Brindisi also appeared before the senior group.  He says he’s finding support for Obamacare as he campaigns.

“People will say, ‘we don’t think it’s perfect.’  But the solution is not scrapping it and kicking millions of people off of their health insurance.  The solution is fixing the problems that exist out there, stopping the attacks that are coming from the administration, and then working to make sure we’re expanding and making affordable health care for everybody.”

He reassured seniors telling them that the TV ads that say he’d cut social programs programs are wrong.

“Social Security and Medicare need to be protected and preserved for this generation and future generations.  We need to make sure that millionaires and billionaires are paying their fair-share into Social Security.”

Yet Tenney paints a different view from what she’s hearing from her constituents.

“Their concerned about all the progress that we’ve made in two years, with the President leading.  They’re worried about open borders, they’re worried about Medicare and Social Security being threatened and taken away from them.  And they should be because the democrats will take our Social Security and Medicare away.”

THE TAX REFORM THAT PASSED CONGRESS A MAJOR CAMPAIGN ISSUE

The contest to represent New York’s diverse 22nd district features candidates seemingly polar-opposite on a number of issues. For example, Tenney, a proponent of the Trump Tax Reform, says recent breaks for small businesses have proven very effective.

“The tax reform is targeted at small businesses.  Yeah, there was reduction in the corporate tax rate, but our small business community got a tax break.  I have a 100 rating from the national federation of independent businesses and we worked with them every day on tax reform to make sure that our small business community is being helped.”

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Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
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Brindisi speaks at candidate luncheon at New Hartford Senior Center

On the other hand, Brindisi counters that tax breaks often don’t help workers at all. He says many companies don’t give their savings back to their employees.

“There was one study that was done that was published Newsweek magazine that looked at all the Fortune 500 companies out there and it showed that only 4% of the workers for those … companies saw any increase in their wages after the tax bill.  And over 430 of those companies said they have no plans to share the increase of money their taking in with their workers.”

The candidates also have differing views on the controversial topic of immigration. Tenney warns that illegal immigrants could impact much more than job opportunities.

“This caravan of people coming to cross the border are going to be more of the same, allowing people to come in and take our resources away from hard-working Americans.  You now, people are very sensitive to the idea of people seeking asylum, but they also think that we have to have a rule of law.  We have a lot of immigrants in our community. I’ve been proud to work with them.  Immigrants are really important but we need legal immigration; we need people to respect the rule of law and I think people are worried about that.”

Brindisi says that the best way to find a proper plan for immigration starts with lawmakers coming together and collaborating. 

“I think we have to stop the scare tactics.  We have to sit down as adults and figure out this problem.  We need to have strong borders.  We can have that with enhanced border security.  We need an immigration policy that’s tough but fair.  I support for law-abiding immigrant families who are here, who are playing by the rules and paying taxes, I believe that they should be allowed to earn citizenship.”

He’s also hearing from farmers who are concerned about having enough migrant workers to help with their harvesting and other farm work, as policy shifts and rhetoric are keeping them away.

Recent polls show Brindisi holding a one-percentage-point lead over Tenney. The 22nd District spans eight counties, and ranges north of Utica down south to Binghamton. Certainly, a diverse group of voters from different backgrounds will decide who represents them in Washington.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.