Thursday, February 13, 2014

Commentary: A Congressional Candidate No One Knows

Elise Stefanik watches herself on TVAddressing the concerns of the opponents of the proposed federal constitution, who worried that members of Congress would not be sufficiently representative of the interests and opinions of their districts, the authors of ‘The Federalist Papers’ pointed out that a candidate without local connections would be unlikely to get elected.

They could not win the esteem of their neighbors without having already demonstrated merit and sound judgement. They will be acquainted with local issues, because in all probability they will have served in the state legislature, “where all local information and interests of the state are assembled,” or in some other local office.

To the authors of ‘The Federalist Papers,’ it was perhaps more important that once elected to Congress, the representative have the ability to rise above their district’s own parochial interests and deliberate with a view to the good of the country as a whole. Thus the constitutional qualifications for a seat in Congress are relatively few. You need only be a resident of the state from which you’re sent to Congress at the time of the election. This ensures that the best and the brightest will have the opportunity to put themselves forward, even though they may be new to the state.

Nevertheless, the presumption is that they will “be acquainted with the interests and circumstances of [their] constituents.” Political ambition is admirable, but it should be tempered by an authentic attachment to the people who serve it. Otherwise, it’s untrustworthy.  When the candidate is a stranger, we are entitled to ask for  evidence that they not only understand our political interests, but also care about our communities.

This brings us to Elise Stefanik, the young woman who has received the endorsement of all but one of the county committees to be the Republican candidate for Congress. For despite the fact that she claims to be from Willsboro, she’s actually from the Capital District and has never held elected office anywhere. When asked about her claim to be a resident of Willsboro, Stefanik said she is living in her family’s  summer home on Willsboro Point. Willsboro is a town of 2,000 people, but no one I spoke to in that community knows her. Teresa Sayward, the former state assemblywoman who has lived in Willsboro her entire life, told me, “I’ve never heard of a family by that name. I’ve never met her. She’s never even called me.”

I don’t doubt that Elise Stefanik’s family members are longtime summer residents, but Stefanik’s failure to even introduce herself to Sayward seems less like an oversight or a lapse in manners than a lack of curiosity about how rural areas such as ours function.

To understand our communities, you have to know who is connected to whom, and by what manner. You have to know where the levers of power are hidden, and how the big decisions are made.

This is the kind of knowledge that comes only slowly and is acquired only by living years here, or, if that’s not possible, by seeking out those who are in a position to educate us.

Elise Stefanik may yet acquire that knowledge and come to deserve our trust as well our votes. In the mean time, I hope that a Republican who is not only among the best and the brightest, but who is also a native of the North Country, will enter the race and offer us a choice.

Photo: Elise Stefanik watches herself on TV after a day on the campaign trail. From Stefanik’s Facebook page.

Anthony F. Hall

Anthony F. Hall

Anthony F. Hall is the editor and publisher of the Lake George Mirror.

Anthony grew up in Warrensburg and after an education that included studying with beat poet Gregory Corso on an island in the Aegean, crewing a schooner in Hawaii, traveling through Greece and Turkey studying Byzantine art and archeology, and a stint at Lehman Brothers, he returned to the Adirondacks and took a job with legendary state senator Ron Stafford.

In 1998, Anthony and his wife Lisa acquired the Lake George Mirror, once part of a chain of weekly newspapers owned by his father Rob Hall.

Established in the 1880s, the Mirror is America’s oldest resort newspaper.


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19 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    It has been said “We need a third party.” My response to that is ‘We need a second party first.’ At one time I always used to say ‘I’d never vote republican.’ And I don’t!For just reasons of course as I like the living things on earth,I like water better than I like oil,I like benevolence better than I like arrogance,I like kindness better than I like mean-spiritedness…I support the very things they seem to go against.Per instance I would rather have forests they would rather have the minerals under the forests.I see a tree as a precious thing they see it as board feet.The differences between the mindsets are like night and day. There ‘will’ come a time when money and power will not be as important as the survival of life on Earth.

    The democrats! I used to think they were far less evil,now I think they are catching up.Both parties have got us in the mess we’re in. When Obama said “The oil is gone” reference to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago,I knew he was an idiot too.They think we’re all guillible when matter of fact just 80% of the population is.The oil wasn’t gone it was on the bottom of the Gulf,still is,still doing damage.Once a puppet always a puppet.

    If we could just get campaign financing out of the erections Joe and Mary public just might have a shot at the American dream which has been sharply reduced to bare bones….like the school lunch programs under Reagan. I’ve been voting for the underdog parties/candidates for a number of years now even though I knew they had not a snowball’s chance in hell.Protest voting I call it.Until more of us start waking up I see no hope for this country. I’ve been hearing for years, “We need a new revolution!” It wont work!If there is a new revolution we’ll be fighting each other, liberals/progressives against conservatives/regressives.
    We’ll be killing each other off while those who got us pitted against each other in the first place (the politicians who bend for the rich) will be sitting back with sorry-ass grins on their faces saying “We got em now!”

    Thanks for allowing me!

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    • Paul K says:

      if only our media, which has constitutional protection, report the truth about this or that instead of siding with one political power and are now guilty of journalistic malpractice. the media cannot be trusted to inform the people of what is what.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    • Well this race will have a third party candidate. Hopefully the excellent Matt Funicello or otherwise Donald Hassig, both Greens.

      Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. John Henry says:

    Resume enhancement, I am thinking Elise never expected to be “the person”. She thought get my name out get some good contacts and be ready run in few years.

    Now she is under the microscope and everything she has said or done is being fact checked.

    Million dollar+ townhouse on a aides pay? ok the parents paid for it.

    Lives in the 21st? well not so much, spent some summers years ago. Is the driveway plowed this winter? any tracks in the snow to the door, lights on at night?

    Business woman? yet not a partner, no sales milestones of note or worthy business news. Anyone seen her in the office? No sales calls?

    Ok she talks the conservative talking points by rote. What does that mean of her real not political beliefs.

    I see a DC insider with a real slick knowledge of how the political election system works and how to PR the race. I do not see any meat and potatoes.

    Compare to Owens, Doheny, Dede, Aubertine and Hoffman.

    All the above spent their life and large part of their careers here. By 29 all employed people or were elected, started firms and one helped run a Olympic games. Most were self made millionaires not family made.

    I am sure she is smart, you do not get an Ivy league degree without being smart. I am sure she is nice, but for me to inside DC and to weak a resume.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  3. John Henry says:

    Then again this Aaron Woolf has done nothing in the 21st other than he is liberal with right money ties. Pretty slim pickings. I guess the right and left will both be happy as you get the talking points you both want.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. “Republican Candidate Status Report for NY 21″

    Ms. Elise Stefanik lacks the goods while Matt Doheny remains damaged good, causing most moderates in NY 21 to ask, “What good is there in voting for either candidate?”

    Mike Flynn ‘Middle Class Mike’

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  5. Alan Senbaugh says:

    “Elise Stefanik may yet acquire that knowledge and come to deserve our trust as well our votes”…She has been campaigning very hard to do so. Your points are certainly valid but she is a bright young person who is very eager and is certainly working hard, early on in the campaign. It is a very different race then we have had in the past. None of our local/state leaders stepped up.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. John Sullivan says:

    Tony —
    Which brings us to the Democratic nominee, who is also a part-time resident, from what I hear. What else I hear is damned little. Can’t even remember his name right now. Which brings us to my own conclusion that both parties couldn’t care less what happens to rural America.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Anthony F. Hall Tony Hall says:

    Others are raising similar concerns about the Democratic nominee

    http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20140213/BLOGS10/702139736

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. John Henry says:

    I would rather have seen John Sullivan run a man of strong beliefs even if I do not always agree with them. He has the heart beat of upstate in him and you get what you see not what someone polled and told him to be.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Brian says:

    Kind of sad that both Democrat and GOP Politburos (not those pesky rank and file members, who the grand pooh-bah elites are trying to sideline) chose carpetbaggers. I wonder if GOP voters will revolt against the Politburo come primary time… assuming the pooh-bahs haven’t intimidated the other candidates into withdrawing by then.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Glenn Pearsall Glenn L. Pearsall says:

    Despite the importance of the 21st Congressional District and its possible impact on the balance in the House, it looks like slim pickings again this time. Wish Betty Little had thrown her hat in the ring; at least she knows Upstate issues.
    “A Rockefeller Republican”

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Joe2 says:

    Part of the problem is no matter who gets elected they are told how to vote and do toe the party line almost all the time. You might as well pick your party because individual legislators can do very little. Look at all the storm and fury generated by Ted Cruz in the Senate, and the total lack of any results other than stomping of feet and turning blue when he holds his breath.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Bob Meyer says:

    sounds like something out of the History Channel like Appalachian Outlaws… not from around here are ya?
    get real: if she is qualified on the ISSUES both locally and Statewide. judge her on her merits not the surface.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  13. […] It is too soon to tell, but the same attempt by the national Republican Party might transpire in the next congressional election. The leading Republican candidate is an able young Republican operative named Elise Stefanik. The national Republican Party has highlighted Stefanik as one of their potential national future stars whom “already have better resumes than Obama.” Stefanik has raised money from conservative national contributors, and very little money from those inside the district. Stefanik appears to be from a neighboring area, but not from this congressional district. A long-tim… […]

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  14. […] It is too soon to tell, but the same attempt by the national Republican Party might transpire in the next congressional election. The leading Republican candidate is an able young Republican operative named Elise Stefanik. The national Republican Party has highlighted Stefanik as one of their potential national future stars whom “already have better resumes than Obama.” Stefanik has raised money from conservative national contributors, and very little money from those inside the district. Stefanik appears to be from a neighboring area, but not from this congressional district. A long-tim… […]

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. […] It is too soon to tell, but the same attempt by the national Republican Party might transpire in the next congressional election. The leading Republican candidate is an able young Republican operative named Elise Stefanik. The national Republican Party has highlighted Stefanik as one of their potential national future stars whom “already have better resumes than Obama.” Stefanik has raised money from conservative national contributors, and very little money from those inside the district. Stefanik appears to be from a neighboring area, but not from this congressional district. A long-tim… […]

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. I am Joe Gilbert and I am also running for Congress in NY21.
    It has been said that the parties’ endorsed candidates are “squirming” to explain what they are about.
    I’m not squirming. I know what I stand for.
    Freedom.
    Liberty.
    Limited government bound by the limits as set forth in the Constitution.
    The Rule of Law where the government doesn’t choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore.
    The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. I first took my oath to support and defend the Constitution when I was 18 years old and it did not come with an expiration date.
    The Bill of Rights is not open to negotiation. The people are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. A true representative republic has nothing to fear from an armed populace.
    A balanced federal budget pegged to a percentage of GDP and backed up with a flat or fair tax where everyone has “skin in the game” and we abolish the IRS.
    Secure borders and enforcing our current immigration laws.
    The sanctity of human life.
    Strong national defense.
    Lifting the burden of the world’s highest corporate tax rate and regulations that will lead to investment, business creation, jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

    The writer stated that “extremism does not play well with the voters in the North Country.” When did our Founding principles, fiscal responsibility and the Constitution become extreme?

    The paper said it was important to know the abilities and background of the candidates. I didn’t have to move or get a Post Office box in order to run. I was born and raised in the North Country. I was an altar boy, boy scout, played high school football and joined the Army right out of high school. 24 years 2 tours in Germany, Korea and three tours in Iraq later I came back home and now live on a farm in St. Lawrence County.

    I am the only veteran in this race. I served with the 10th Mountain Division three times. I was the intelligence officer (S2) for 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade. I served in Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division twice when elements of the Climb to Glory division was attached to my 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad.

    I was also a military contractor on Fort Drum. There is no one in this race who can possibly understand the needs of the veterans, families, Soldiers and civilian employees on Fort Drum more. I have been all of the above. I will fight to preserve a strong national defense and the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum are indispensable.

    My father had two factories close underneath him and was left unemployed. The first was the Diamond International plant in Ogdensburg. The second was the General Motors plant in Massena. I know the damage the loss of jobs does to a community because I’ve lived it. I will fight to preserve jobs and industry in the North Country. My grandparents, uncles and many other family members owned and operated dairy farms, and I currently live on a farm myself. I understand the needs of the area’s farmers because I am one.

    I have a record of leadership, actually cutting government spending, drafting and passing legislation that the other candidates can’t touch. I will stand by my record of being a responsible steward of the tax payers’ money, managing budgets, passing legislation and leadership.
    There is another candidate for Congress in the 21st District. A candidate who is one of the people and who shares your background, concerns and frustration with Washington.
    I am Joe Gilbert and I am running to represent you in Congress.

    Like or Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  17. […] a candidate’s name recognition. Stefanik had very low name recognition, and had never before lived full-time in the current district. In a party primary that did not receive much national attention, turnout […]

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