Our nation faces serious challenges at home and abroad. Global warming, jihadists in Iraq and Syria determined to do us harm, Russian actions in Ukraine that recall Hitler’s aggression in the 1930s, and the unchecked ebola outbreak in Africa are just a sampling of the international challenges. Crime and poverty in Central America are sending thousands of child refugees to our southern border, while the status of nearly 12 million immigrants already living and working here remains unresolved. Our domestic infrastructure is decaying, affordable housing is scarce, and unemployment remains unacceptably high. Student loan debt and the quality of education are major problems.
In the face of these and so many other grave challenges, we need a Congress made up of serious people who can work together in the national interest.
Here in New York’s 23rd, our current representative, Tom Reed, has been running a series of frivolous attack ads against his challenger, Martha Robertson. Reed is someone who has been late in paying his property taxes 38 times in 8 years, according to reports. Reed favored prolonging the government shutdown in 2013, and opposed raising the debt ceiling — an stance that would have provoked an international financial crisis had it prevailed. After his election to Congress, Reed failed to remove his name from his law firm, raising ethics questions. That firm specialized in the collection of medical debts from people in the district who found themselves in financial difficulties. Meanwhile, Reed voted time and again against extending affordable health care to constituents who — until the Affordable Care Act became law — had been unable to purchase health insurance. He portrays himself as a friend of Social Security, even though he favors cutting the program for those under 55. Reed, in short, is a partisan politician and not the sort of serious individual who is up to coping with the challenges before us.
Martha Robertson’s biography paints an entirely different picture. She was a teacher for five years. Active in community affairs, Robertson was elected to the Tompkins County legislature in 2001, later becoming the legislature’s chair. She has also chaired the Tompkins County Development Agency, helping to bring millions of dollars in investments and construction to the region. Robertson was instrumental in creating an affordable housing fund that has helped spark a building boom in Ithaca. She took a lead role in creating the TompkinsRx program to cut the costs of prescription medications for the uninsured and the under-insured. Robertson has been endorsed by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the leading advocacy organization for the two programs. The Committee knows full well which of the two candidates is a true friend of these vital programs for seniors.
Robertson has shown herself to be a serious person indeed — a person devoted to public service with a record of solid achievement. She will represent us well as the nation deals with the challenges ahead.