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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Race for 23rd Congressional District starts

  • Martha Robertson, a newly-announced candidate for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, stopped in Corning Friday, April 19, as part of a whirlwind tour to introduce herself to voters.Robertson, who is chairman of the Tompkins County Legislature, said that’s a key part of her strategy.

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  • Martha Robertson, a newly-announced candidate for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, stopped in Corning Friday, April 19, as part of a whirlwind tour to introduce herself to voters.Robertson, who is chairman of the Tompkins County Legislature, said that’s a key part of her strategy.
    She said the campaign is kicking off 18 months ahead of the 2014 election because that’s what’s needed to really make contact with the voters in the 11-county 23rd District. “It’s a district the size of New Jersey,” she said.
    Robertson’s campaign chairman Nate Shinagawa, who ran against Reed in last year’s election, agreed.
    He said the way to get past the 10,002-vote gap that cost him the race in November was more time. He said more time would mean meeting more voters and more fundraising, which would mean more  TV advertising later in the campaign.
    “It’s not rocket science,” he said. Shinagawa started his own campaign just eight months before the 2012 election.
    A chilly rain Friday morning drove the kick-off event indoors to the Old World Cafe next to Centerway Square.
    Addressing a small group inside the Market Street eatery,
    Robertson spoke for a few minutes before inviting questions. The first question from the audience was predictable: “What are your views on fracking?”
    Robertson responded by highlighting her work with a group called Elected Officials to Protect New York, which she co-founded.
    The group, which includes more than 600 local elected officials, has called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to extend the state’s moratorium on fracking until more studies are completed on the environmental and health impact.
    Robertson has spoken at anti-fracking demonstrations throughout the region and in Albany. Speaking to the Lansing Star in 2012, she said that local bans on fracking weren’t enough.
    “Every week we learn about new risks: seismic activity, high radon levels and ground level ozone, for example. Not only do these dangers not respect county lines, much of the damage this industry causes is irreversible,” she said.
    Robertson also laid out her views on other issues:
    ¶ She said one of her priorities as a member of Congress would be to support small business. “Small business is the backbone of our community,” she said.
    ¶ Robertson, whose first job was teaching kindergarten, said it was important to provide a quality education for every child. She also made reference to Reed’s “support” of the sequester cuts to federal spending, which cut funding to schools and to the Head Start program.
    In February, Reed called discussions about the impact of the spending cuts “mostly political theater.” He did vote for two bills in the House that would have reallocated the cuts.  Those bills never saw a vote in the Senate.
    Page 2 of 2 - Robertson also attacked moves to cut the growth of Social Security spending through the “chained CPI,” a measure of inflation that tends to show a smaller rise than traditional methods. Using the chained CPI would likely lead to smaller cost of living increases in Social Security payments.
    “For 25 percent of people receiving Social Security, it’s their only income. For the other 75 percent, it’s their primary income,” she said.
    The switch to the chained CPI was included in President Obama’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
    Robertson said she differs from the White House on this, and expects a great deal of resistance from seniors on the issue.
    Shinagawa said Robertson’s split from Obama on Social Security highlights her independence, which he said would help her in the Republican- and independent- leaning 23rd District.
    Robertson said since Reed first took office after a special election to replace Democrat Eric Massa in 2010, voters have had a chance to see what kind of congressman he is. “We gave Congressman Tom Reed a chance to do the right thing for our families, but instead he went to Washington and started siding with the special interests and playing partisan games. I'm running for Congress because the families of this district deserve a leader who will wake up every day and deliver real solutions for all of our families.”
    Robertson was first elected to the Tompkins County Legislature in 2002. She has been chair of the legislature since 2010. She represents the Town of Dryden, where she lives with her husband of 35 years. The couple have two children and two grandchildren. More information on Robertson and her campaign is available online at www. MarthaForNY.com.

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