This article was submitted by Russell Tocqueville, who lives and votes in the Southern Tier.
Weeks after the Democratic Presidential primary has happened, we Southern Tier Democrats seem to be in a position of post primary relaxation.
But I tell you now is not the time to relax, it’s time to change the Status Quo.
To the eye of the average observer, we look like a Right leaning district that trends purple up the ballot, but with no local running mates.
We won in 2008 as the vanguard of what was seen as a local political shift towards progressive economic policies. That change wasn’t brought about because more folks my age started voting. It was brought on by the fact that folks like former Elmira Mayor John Tonello ran for State Senate. It happened because we forgot about party labels and started worrying about the needs of our area, and that message was branded. These values, Southern Tier Values showed the good people of the Southern tier a right and wrong beyond right and left.
This last primary had an interesting dynamic, which led to Bernie Sanders carrying all of the counties in the 23rd Congressional district and Democratic Turnout matching or even exceeding Republican turnout outside of Tompkins County.
If folks are pulling the lever for Bernie and Hillary in April in high numbers, let’s make them pull the lever for good local democrats in November.
If you voted for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton in this primary in high turnout across the Southern Tier, then just as you put your faith in your candidate to change our community, put your faith in yourself to be the change you want in our community. Run for local office and be the actual face of what the Southern tier is, because it is not the hatred of Donald Trump or Rodney Strange, or Tom Reed, or any local Republican crazy enough to endorse him.
Folks these are the reasons why the Cook Political Report and the Hill have named our district as a top pick up opportunity for Democrats in 2016, it’s because Donald Trump is not us. From his sexist tirades against all women, to his outsourced China made clothing line, Donald Trump does not represent any of the values of our Southern Tier.
Yes the presidential primary is over, but we have local races in November from Village Trustee up to Congress. In places like Horseheads, Newark Valley, and Hector there are local elections happening at the same time as our Congressional and State Senate elections, and if there’s anything Republicans in the Southern Tier hate, it’s running for office during Presidential years. Its why in place like Chemung County the overwhelming majority of local offices are up for election in off of year elections. They are afraid to run with their national party or even try to tie themselves to it, but a Ted Cruz endorsing local elected official is still someone who’s willing to go to extremities and hurt local families to live in a fantasy, even if they tell you their politics have nothing to do with their Party or elected office.
So while Tom Reed, and Tom O’mara and Cathy Young, and others try to tell you that they’re not like Trump, remember these guys represent us and what they say and do reflects on us. With Tom Reed Endorsing Donald Trump, he has sealed his fate to Trump’s.
The fact is Congressman Reed is scared to take a picture with Trump after publicly endorsing him and that says a lot about him.
For those of us who are young Bernie Supporters, who took interest in politics for the first time in this primary, and fought to win our counties for Senator Sanders. Vermont used to be a lot like the Southern Tier even until the early 2000’s. Your hard work to win our counties for him has to translate into local changes. No more local elected officials pledging their loyalty to the tea party, and we both know that after going door to door in Elmira, Horseheads, Penn Yan, Owego, Corning etc.…. More folks agree with us than them. Let’s be the change locally, no more hatred in our name. Let us stay involved start young democratic groups, and run for office. The generational shift will not happen unless we keep pushing forward and I can tell you that from experience. So let’s fight for our home, because I’m tired of young folks like us having to leave our towns because under the Republican tutelage of the southern tier these guys cared more about titles than job creation.
For those of us who voted for Senator Clinton, the fight continues downballot and we cannot rest just because the primary is over. While its amazing that we will elect the first woman president of the United States. It’s equally great to elect women across the Southern Tier, and ensure local representation that matches our values.
Just like someone once said, there is more that unites us than divides us.
So I say to you stand with our future Congressman John Plumb, our future State Senators Leslie Danks Burke, Lee Hyson, and our State Assembly candidates. Run for local office and be the changing face of the Southern Tier, represent our true values of family, hospitality, and respect. Let’s work beyond Bernie and Hillary and run to make our towns better.
Now is the time to change the Status Quo, and it is up to us to be that change locally. No more Democratic towns at the top of the ballot, let’s give our neighbors local, state, and federal elected officials they will be proud to vote for.