To the Editor:
Ken Blankenbush represents the 117th District of the NYS Assembly and has held this position since 2010, winning in four uncontested elections. With a record of being pro-agriculture, pro-guns, and pro-military, it’s no mystery why he continues to win in this district which incorporates parts of St. Lawrence, Jefferson (including Ft. Drum), Lewis, and Oneida Counties.
However, .Blankenbush’s voting record is shockingly regressive. He has voted against paid family leave not once, not twice, but three times, thereby denying North Country residents economic stability after the birth of a child, during severe illness, or if they need to provide for a sick family member. He also has voted against increasing the minimum wage at least three times, and voted against extending basic labor department protections to farm laborers (minimum wage, overtime, etc.). How any of these votes benefit the working poor of the North Country is beyond me.
In terms of civil rights, Blankenbush has voted against marriage equality, has supported conversion therapy in gay children at least twice, and has repeatedly shot down legislation to protect women, ethnic and racial minorities, LGBTQ, and non-Christians from workplace discrimination, including two bills regarding equal pay for equal work. He is anti-choice and even was opposed to a bill that would prohibit discrimination against women who ever had an abortion.
These votes aren’t conservative – they’re bigoted. Who would vote against legislation to protect LGBTQ children from child abuse? And he did it more than once.
The North Country is more than guns, military, and farms. We are a community. But who are we as a community if we continue to send a man to Albany who votes for rampant discrimination and conversion therapy for children which the American Psychiatric Association deems as harmful and other organizations go as far as to proclaim as “psychological torture?”
How are these issues even debatable in 2017? Women should be allowed to make their own reproductive decisions and a black man should be guaranteed the same wage as a white man doing the same job.
The North Country is economically struggling – how does voting multiple times to deny workers a fair wage and fair conditions doing any of us any good?
Do these votes really represent who we really are, North Country? Does Ken Blankenbush? And if they do – we need to take a good, long look at ourselves and who are as a community.