With Election Day coming up Tuesday, The Leader asked the candidates for the 23rd District Congressional seat some questions.
We asked Rep. Tom Reed and his Democratic challenger Tracy Mitrano to give their answers in 200 words or less.
Below are our questions, and the candidates' answers:
What is the No. 1 priority for the 23rd District currently?
REED: Our focus is always on jobs and the economy. Creating new and better job and career opportunities for hardworking families throughout our communities is critical.
That’s why we fought for tax cuts that allow the typical of family of four in our community to keep $1,600 more of their hard earned dollars each year.
Job opportunities and economic growth come from employers and skilled laborers all across America who work hard to enhance our economy.
However, we must do our part in Congress to enhance the ability of the private sector to ensure everyone has the opportunity to secure a good paying job and a better life. With more than 6.3 million Americans looking for a job compared to the 6.7 million job openings nationwide it is critical that we continue to develop our workforce so our economy can continue to grow.
That’s why we introduced the Help Americans Succeed by Measuring Outcomes Act – we care about helping people leave welfare for jobs that will allow them to move up the economic ladder.
Our opponent says manufacturing just aren’t worth saving, but we believe in the power of American manufacturing.
MITRANO: My first priority for the 23rd district is to create economic opportunity here - to build an economy that works for everyone willing to work for it. We can do that by focusing on five key resources: access to affordable healthcare, education and vocational training programs that do not lead to lasting debt, well-maintained infrastructure (including internet connectivity), protected natural resources, and a fair tax structure that benefits the working and middle-class.
For too long, politicians in Washington have geared economic policy toward corporate interests and the highest earners. But tax cuts for the 1 percent do little to help the working families that make up this district.
By investing in the resources I’ve outlined, we can make our community attractive to outside investment, like businesses that can transform our regional economy. Companies want to come to places that have the roads, bridges, reliable internet, and skilled workers they’ll need to succeed.
I believe that we have the capacity to build a truly strong economy here. In Congress, I’ll advocate for the needs of farmers and manufacturers, organized labor and entrepreneurs, teachers and professionals. My first priority is, and always will be, to fight for you.
What is your stance on the healthcare issue?
REED: Government is not the sole answer to our problems.
Remember the promises made when Obamacare was forced on us that we could keep our doctors and that costs would go down? It’s why we can’t go down the path of socialized, government controlled medicine - as even my opponent acknowledges would raise taxes 20-25 percent.
We need policies coming out of Washington that reward quality care and protect those with preexisting conditions. We’re working to give people the choice and control they want, the affordability they need, and the quality they deserve.
As co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, we put forward the only bipartisan set of solutions to stabilize our health insurance markets and provide relief to individuals, families and small businesses because this is a problem that we must solve.
MITRANO: I support a ‘Medicare for All’ kind of system that give people the ability to access the healthcare that they need. Nearly 40,000 people in this district still lack health insurance, including 8,000 children. In a country as wealthy as the United States, that’s just wrong.
Medicare for All is not government-run healthcare. Instead, the government would be able to negotiate healthcare prices on behalf of the people. Healthcare costs are far too high in this country. Even families with health insurance sometimes struggle to pay their premiums and prescriptions.
These high costs are not due to the excellence of our healthcare, but to the fact that our healthcare system is designed to serve corporate interests, not consumers. Medicare for All would change that by cutting administrative and advertising costs.
A gradual expansion of Medicare for All would allow us to implement this much-need reform without a disruption to people’s health insurance and without requiring an increase in taxes for middle and working class people.
What is you stance on our country’s inability to control its debt?
REED: The increasing national debt is a government spending problem, and both sides are to blame. That is why I have resisted calls from the White House, our Republican party’s leadership, and the Democrats to support unsustainable government spending and voted against the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
The only way we solve this problem is through growth. That’s why I’m focused on getting Americans back to work and providing for their families, rather than being dependent on government.
We must also hold our government accountable for its spending the same way hardworking families balance their personal checkbooks.
MITRANO: The deficit has grown in the last year because Congressman Reed passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, an enormous giveaway to corporate interests and the wealthiest Americans that added nearly $2 trillion to the deficit. The richest 1 percent pay $69,000 less in taxes under the new legislation. In contrast, the average middle-class household received a tax cut of between $500 and $600.
The G.O.P. said these cuts would “pay for themselves.” That hasn’t happened.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell said last month that Republicans will reduce the debt by cutting essential programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Senator McConnell might call these programs “entitlements,” but they’re benefits Americans have earned throughout the course of their working lives. If we’re serious about cutting the deficit, we should do it by repealing the Republicans’ ridiculous tax giveaway for the wealthy, not by cutting programs that aid working and middle class families. Washington must rein in out of control government spending.
Are President Trump’s tariffs helping or hurting the 23rd District?
REED: For too long, our country has suffered through trade deals that put our workers at a disadvantage with international trade. More than 95% of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States so we need trade, but it must be fair trade.
We are realigning the scales of trade and have already seen success with the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Now we are taking on China. China needs to come to the table and hammer out a trade deal that is fair for both sides - not just China.
I am confident that with fair trade agreements, the ingenuity and talent of hard working American workers and entrepreneurs will prevail and we will be able to invent and build the products of tomorrow here in the United States.
As I always say, “Make it Here and Sell it There.”
MITRANO: From my conversations with dairy farmers, manufacturers, and organized labor, I can say, emphatically, that President Trump’s tariffs are hurting the 23rd district.
The reckless way in which these tariffs have been implemented has caused a great deal of uncertainty in many industries, increasing costs and harming the ability of businesses to plan for the future.
While the government has taken certain steps to alleviate these problems, such as passing a $12 billion tariff-mitigation plan, the package did relatively little for many NY-23 dairy farmers, who have already been struggling due to falling milk prices.
To be sure, U.S. trade agreements have not always been in the interest of our country or our district, and I give President Trump a great deal of credit for negotiating a new deal with Canada and Mexico this fall.
If I’m elected to Congress, I’ll support the U.S.M.C.A.
We must continue to work with other countries to negotiate more mutually beneficial terms. China’s unfair trade practices must be addressed, but the best way to accomplish this is by working with our international allies, not by waging a poorly planned trade war.
Can more be done to battle the opioid crisis in the 23rd District?
REED: We care about those individuals who are suffering from addiction and believe in expanding common-sense programs which focus on addiction prevention, treatment and enforcement.
Congress has taken a number of steps to increase funding for rehab and treatment centers, provide for a better pipeline to the marketplace for non-opioid alternative treatments, crack down on illegal drugs crossing the border and coming in through the mail system, and spread awareness of both legal and illegal opioids.
Dangerous proposals like heroin injections sites are just wrong and we will continue to call out that extremism.
MITRANO: More can, and must, be done to combat the opioid epidemic in this district. The impact of opioid addiction on people and families throughout this district has been devastating and heartbreaking.
Most of us have lost a loved one to addiction. We desperately need to take action to prevent more families from being hurt and to help those suffering to overcome their addictions.
One way to address this crisis is to ensure that people have access to affordable healthcare so they can get treatment and prevent addiction. Cutting Medicaid, as Republicans have advocated, is utterly wrongheaded.
We should also require all emergency responders and law enforcement officials to carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, saving lives.
Thirdly, we should pursue legal actions to make the pharmaceutical companies who put these dangerous drugs on the market, knowing their dangerous effects.
Congressman Reed’s main proposal on this issue is to call for the death penalty for drug dealers. Such a punishment-oriented approach does little to address the problem. It does little to help those that are currently suffering.
List your current endorsements.
REED: Amo Houghton, Former US Congressman; President Donald Trump; Conservative Party; Independence Party; US Chamber of Commerce; NFIB; NYS Right to Life Committee; Log Cabin Republicans; National Rifle Association; Clear Path; No Labels; Buffalo News; Jamestown Post-Journal; Dunkirk Observer; State Senator Tom O’Mara; State Senator Cathy Young; State Senator Pam Helming; Assemblyman Phil Palmesano; Assemblyman Andy Goodell; Hornell Mayor John Buckley; Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello; Candidate for Chautauqua County Sheriff Jim Quattrone; Olean Mayor Bill Aiello; West Valley Town Supervisor Charlie Davis; Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss; Elmira Mayor Dan Mandel; Former Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan; Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard; Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard; Gary Mervis, Founder of Camp Good Days.
Michael Printup, President, Watkins Glen International; Gene Pierce, President/CEO, Glenora Wine Cellars; Charlie Joyce, President, Otis Eastern + NY GOP National Committeeman; Mike Healy, Chair of the Allegany County Republican Committee, Allegany County Legislator; Robert Keis, Chair of the Cattaraugus County Republican Committee; David Wilfong, Chair of the Chautauqua County Republican Committee, Chautauqua County Legislator; Rodney Strange, Chair of the Chemung County Republican Committee, Chemung County Legislator; Trisha Turner, Chair of the Ontario County Republican Committee; Lester Cady, Chair of the Schuyler County Republican Committee; Tom Fox, Chair of the Seneca County Republican Committee, former Seneca County Sheriff; Joe Sempolinski, Chair of the Steuben County Republican Committee; Don Castellucci, Chair of the Tioga County Republican Committee, Town of Owego Supervisor; Mike Sigler, Chair of the Tompkins County Republican Committee, Tompkins County Legislator; Sandy King, Former Chair of the Yates County Republican Committee + Retired State Trooper; John Prendergast, Chair of the Yates County Republican Committee, Benton Town Supervisor; Don Leonard, Former Tioga County Republican Chair.
MITRANO: The New York State AFL-CIO; The Women’s Equality Party; The Working Families Party; The Public Employees Federation; The Civil Service Employees Association; The Alliance for Retired Americans; The Sierra Club; United Auto Workers - Local 2300; United Steelworkers - Local 1000; MoveOn PAC; Equality PAC; LGBTQ Victory Fund; Lieutenant Governor of New York Kathy Hochul; New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20); Mayor of Corning Bill Boland; Mayor of Ithaca Svante Myrick; Mayor of Dunkirk Wilfred Rosas;
Mayor of Fredonia Athanasia Landis; Mayor of Jamestown Samuel Teresi; Mayor of Watkins Glen Sam Schimizzi; Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Dryden Dan Lamb; Tioga County Democratic Committee Chair Diane Lechner; Jamestown City Councilwoman Vanessa Weinert; Former Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson; Former Town Supervisor of Geneva Mary Luckern; Former Lieutenant Governor Mary Anne Krupsak; Former Lieutenant Governor of New York, Congressman and Mayor of Jamestown Stan Lundine; Former Editor of The Jamestown Post-Journal Cristie Herbst; Civic Leader Leslie Danks Burke.