Regardless of the life we are born into, we all deserve equal opportunity and protection under the law. We need equal access to clean air, water, and food sources. We need equal access to healthcare, housing, and a quality education. Protection from violence and harmful situations must be extended to every single person. Sustainable, living wage jobs and equal pay for equal work should not be a benefit, but a requirement. To flourish as a society, we must rehabilitate an unjust system that favors special interests over the greater welfare of the people.
The empowerment of everyday people is critical. Robust public participation in the democratic process acts as a check against special interests receiving special favor. I will help communities and individuals achieve their goals by listening to their needs and acting on their behalf. I commit to forward legislation that is in the best interest of the people.
LIST OF ISSUES
Our natural resources, parks, trails, rivers, lakes, and wildlife must be protected for generations to come. A healthy environment allows life on our planet to continue. We can't lose the quiet sacred spaces in nature that are an antidote to a chaotic world. But with the recent federal removal of many key environmental protections, our air, water, and soil are at risk for contamination. Therefore, our NYS Government must fully protect these resources. I support a 'green amendment' to our state constitution that protects our right to clean air an water. Additionally, state and local zoning and land use laws must consider long term impacts over short term corporate profits.
Climate Change is real. The man made increase of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere and the subsequent warming of our planet, will have catastrophic effects on our health, homes, and economy. We must take immediate steps to stop it. Despite New York’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the build out of fracked gas infrastructure, in our district in particular, directly contradict the environmental benefits we hope to achieve. Climate change requires a system change. Each of us should take thoughtful actions to reduce our own carbon footprint. We must stop the expansion of fossil fuels in New York and transition to 100% clean energy now.
Universal access to quality healthcare is a fundamental right and a symbol of a thriving society. I support the NY Health Act. A healthy population benefits everyone because the condition of one’s health affects family, friends, caregivers and the community at large. Eliminating the healthcare-for-profit system would remove the burden of outrageous costs on the consumer and sustain skilled, permanent jobs.
The repercussions of a poor mental health care system are being felt in several profound ways in our communities. There’s violence on the streets, in our homes, and in our schools. Cases of psychosis, depression, anxiety, and negative self-image are on the rise. At a time when we should be increasing the availability of mental health treatment, we are instead cutting crucial programs and eliminating vital services. We need a system that easily connects the person to the treatment they require.
The opioid epidemic is strangling our society. Heroin overdoses continue to increase, tearing families apart. We need dedicated prevention and treatment centers easily accessible to every community. We need to stop the misuse and abuse of dangerous prescription narcotics in favor of safe alternatives. Not only do we need targeted, honest education for young people and their families, we need to create support, opportunity, and meaningful jobs to prevent the disillusionment that often leads to addiction.
Considering the essential role 'the Mother' plays in our biology and culture, the right for a woman to have control over what happens to her body, is absolute. Women’s health issues should be given the consideration and respect they deserve. From contraceptives, to pregnancy, to postpartum, all women need unfettered access to reproductive care.
As the need for skilled nursing increases, we must have safe staffing ratios that ensure nursing staff is not overburdened and can provide proper care to patients. Safe staffing levels improve successful patient recovery, reduce nurse turnover rate, and are more cost effective than under-staffing.
Increased and equal funding for public schools, universal pre-K, the Arts, STEM programs, and special education, must be the standard. A return to practical courses of study, including the trades, civics, and home economics will prepare students for the real world and broaden their horizons. Quality trade jobs are available to those who choose work over college. At the same time, the escalating cost of college and rising student loan debt must be resolved to allow everyone the opportunity to continue their education. Free community college is a first step.
Excessive student testing has put many schools at a disadvantage when it comes to assessment and the funding that follows. Standardized tests should be used as only one component of a student's overall measure of success. Additionally, teachers' job performance evaluations should not be linked to these test scores. As with the students, the overall performance of an educator includes many complex factors not reflected in test results.
Teachers in the classrooms are on the front lines everyday, preparing our children to become productive citizens. Input from teachers is essential for policy decisions. I support teachers’ right to organize and collectively bargain. We need common sense protection when it comes to wages, benefits, job security, and working conditions.
Close proximity to NYC, major highway corridors, and mass transit make our district an ideal location for families and businesses. The abundance of orchards, vineyards, breweries, and farms, together with the Black Dirt Region, the Appalachian Trail, Harriman State Park, the Bashakill, and the Delaware River, make our home a destination for agro-ecotourism.
We are the inheritors of a unique and wondrous landscape, defined by agriculture and small bustling centers.
We need to work together efficiently as a region, whereby the farms produce a product and the town centers process and distribute the product. I'm eager to work with the farming community to bring concrete ideas that will keep them in their tractors, not relying on selling or leasing their land to outside interests.
The commercial centers of our towns, villages, and cities should be utilized by sustainable, technologically advanced businesses. Providing incentives for local entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, will keep our talented young people here instead of leaving for better prospects. Downtown spaces are available and ready to be renovated. I will work to revitalize our town centers while preserving our open spaces. Preservation and progress must go hand in hand.
Investing in our infrastructure will keep our roads, bridges, and mass transit system modern, efficient, and equipped to connect people with the opportunities available to them. Our water and sewer systems must be updated and not overburdened. Investing in innovative technologies, renewable energy, and encouraging environmentally friendly business practices, will create economic growth, desirable jobs, and a healthy environment. We should expand mass transit from NYC through Rockland County to Stewart International Airport. Further, using the Interstate 84 corridor for train/mass transit, connecting Pennsylvania to Stewart, would bring an immediate boom to our regional economy and bring added prominence to Orange County.
To create economic growth, corporations and wealthy individuals must pay their fair share in taxes. Increased revenue would fund infrastructure that will create jobs and improve quality of life. Investment income should receive the same tax rate as income from wages. Tax cuts must benefit the poor, the elderly, and working families. Property taxes must be based on income. The STAR property exemption is necessary to keep low income families in their homes. Corporate 'PILOT' agreements must be regulated to prevent special favors to campaign contributors. If corporations apply for tax breaks, they should be required to train and hire local workers and provide attractive wages.
The ‘foundational problem’ inherent in these issues is a corrupted political system. The pay-to-play operation of our government has fractured the representatives from the people they are elected to serve. Big monied and special interests have taken over our policies, and together with our corporation-centric campaign finance system, have monopolized the attention of those who are elected to serve the common good. Instead of protecting the people from egregious interests, many politicians today reward campaign finance contributions from out of town parties with legislative favor. Campaign finance reform is essential to an honest democracy. There can be no improper lobbying, no special favors to wealthy donors, no gaming of the system to benefit a few at the cost of many. For this reason, I will accept no corporate money during my campaign or while in office.