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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.