Values

These are some of the values that guide me as a legislator.
For more on my policies, see our Policies Page

ADVOCATING FOR WORKING FAMILIES


When Albany develops policy, everyone should have a seat at the table, not just the well-connected. As a farmer, small business owner and rural community leader, I will make sure that you have a voice in Albany.

There are many issues facing our communities in rural NY. I look forward to engaging with voters throughout the 51st district, to discuss the issues important to you and listen to your ideas for getting the work done.

As a fifth-generation farmer, I have spent my life working with my hands, managing daily challenges with creative solutions. But I know that neither I, nor any individual, has all the right answers. In fact, the best solutions often come from listening to a variety of perspectives. That’s why I will always seek out those most impacted by a policy, then develop a course of action informed by what I learn and guided by my core beliefs.

We all deserve a government in Albany that listens to us and understands our priorities.




REDUCING TAXES


Much of the State revenue is derived from the sweat and hard work of taxpayers. Seniors, young people and businesses are all leaving New York because our taxes are just too high.

If all your income is through a paycheck or through the cash register on the counter of your small business, then every dollar you earn is taxed. People and businesses that earn their income through investments and complicated business structures can shield much of their income. This puts the public tax burden onto the shoulders of workers and small business owners.

Property tax is an inherently unfair tax. The amount a property owner must pay has no relationship at all to the income of the taxpayer or resources with which to pay.

We need a tax code that:

  • Is equitable and doesn’t break the backs of working people

  • Helps seniors to age at home

  • Encourages young people to come here

  • Allows our businesses to grow and create new opportunities

As Senator, I will fight for a fairer tax system and against unfunded mandates that burden our local taxpayers and raise property taxes.




SUPPORTING FARMS AND SMALL BUSINESSES


The regulations governing how businesses operate and the rules for participating in government programs need to be examined and simplified. We can more effectively and efficiently accomplish the goal of protecting individuals, businesses and the environment by fixing the process. I know this can be done. While at USDA, I improved access to and delivery of federal programs while sustaining a reduced budget, a 20% reduction of agency staff and a 10% reduction in the number of offices statewide. We need to make government work better by:

  • Evaluating whether a policy is necessary, fair and effective.
  • Making smart investments that help existing businesses create jobs and support our rural economies like universal access to high-speed broadband, cell service and transportation.
  • Prioritizing incentives to helping our existing local businesses prosper while bringing more jobs to upstate New York.
  • Investing in Pre-K and affordable quality daycare in our rural communities so parents can choose to return to the workplace and businesses can retain those valuable employees.
  • Supporting investments in the infrastructure needed to strengthen and expand our local food systems.
  • Supporting opportunities for farms to transition or expand production - our family farm has thrived for 6 generations by adjusting to changes in production and marketing opportunities.
    • Growing and processing food locally will create long-term jobs in production and transportation and building a local food system will support a sustainable rural economy.
    • Local food systems keep money within our communities to support other local businesses and workers here at home.
  • Helping farmers continue and expand the good work they do to ensure clean water, healthy soils and open space - farmers are key allies in the battle to combat climate change, we must support them in that effort.




INVESTING IN PUBLIC EDUCATION


Ensuring a strong and fair public education system is one of the most basic functions that a government provides because a well educated public is a cornerstone of democracy and essential for a thriving community. As a former School Board member, I understand the struggle in rural communities to make sure our schools have the resources they need. That’s why the State must live up to its obligation for equitable aid in every part of the state. But we also need a better, fairer system of funding public education. A system that shifts away from reliance on property taxes because a child’s zip code should not affect the quality of their education. And we need to make universal pre-K truly universal for every community in New York. This is a critical stage in preparing children for a lifetime of learning with a tremendous impact on a student’s future educational success. Our rural children must not be left behind.




IMPROVING RURAL HEALTHCARE


We need a system that delivers comprehensive, affordable healthcare for everyone. And we deserve a healthcare system that focuses on serving individuals, not protecting the profits of insurance companies. We must fix this broken system, and reduce prescription drug prices, too. When healthcare is not tied to a person’s place of employment, employees are more mobile, and employers can find the workers they need. And removing the burden of providing healthcare from business owners allows them to focus on their core business and will make them more competitive in the marketplace. But that’s not enough. In rural areas like parts of the 51st District, there's a lack of access to healthcare and an aging population without enough people to care for them. This puts upstate New Yorkers at risk. That’s why I support programs that provide local healthcare delivery including school-based health programs and investments in rural hospitals and health clinics, as well as ensuring that we have enough home healthcare workers to allow seniors to age at home. Everyone in New York should have access to local, quality, affordable healthcare.




PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT


My wife and I have been very active in fighting fracking development in New York State. That’s because fracking is a business model where a very few people gain all the reward and the rest of the community assumes all the risk and pays for all the damage. We also know first-hand the devastating impacts of climate change. Our home and family farm were devastated in 2011 by Hurricane Irene; from which we are still recovering. This was a supposed 500-year flood that occurred again one week later, 50 miles to our west, with Hurricane Lee and again one year later with Hurricane Sandy just to our south. We must stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and instead invest in sustainable, renewable energy. I will fight to codify the ban on hydro-fracking so that we can focus on the future of clean energy production. Our rural communities and farms are essential partners as we transition to clean energy and take on the climate crisis. At a time when the state has committed to addressing climate change and creating good-paying green energy jobs, I want to make sure that our upstate communities share the benefits of the green energy economy. We need to support farms in their efforts to enhance carbon sequestration. And we need to invest in local renewable energy production, giving local communities better control over their energy costs and keeping the money spent right here. We know the important role farms play in providing clean water in the New York City and Skaneateles Watersheds. Let’s build upon that model across the state to provide farms an income for the good work they do to protect our watersheds. Together, we can preserve our environment for generations to come.




CONFRONTING THE OPIOID CRISIS


Our rural communities are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. Treating addiction as a crime will not solve the problem. We cannot jail our way out of this crisis. Furthermore, incarcerating drug offenders is the least effective, most expensive approach to address drug abuse and dependence. This is a public health issue that requires dealing with the underlying causes of addiction and making recovery services easily accessible and available. We know that when someone is ready to stop using, there is a short window to get them the help that they need. Let’s make sure that the necessary resources are available in the communities most impacted by this crisis.





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