To the Editor:
I write this on October 19th, the middle of "District Week." This is the period during which Congressional Representatives are supposed to be back in their districts, listening to the concerns of their constituents. Here in Northern New York's 21st district, our current Representative is Elise Stefanik.
But you could be forgiven for not knowing this. You see, Rep. Stefanik has made something of an art of avoiding her constituents.
Her website this week--as most weeks--reads "There are currently no posted events." Indeed, the only way to see her would have been to pay $25 per person to attend her closed-door party fundraiser in Gouverneur, if you had somehow managed to find out about it ahead of time.
While Rep. Stefanik continues to vote in ways that demonstrably hurt her constituents--voting to wind down Medicaid in contradiction to her previous assurances to reject "block granting," voting to make preventative care more scarce for women by shuttering Planned Parenthood, voting for a tax policy that provides huge giveaways to the rich and in some cases raises taxes for those at the low and middle rungs of the economic ladder, and refusing to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)--she also refuses to face her voters by eschewing any public, announced events.
Rep. Stefanik's behavior is part of a consistent pattern of antagonism and avoidance. Earlier this year, she threatened to call Capitol Police in response to her critics, and she has labeled some of those who would challenge her votes "reprehensible."
While Rep. Stefanik daily demonstrates her cowardice and her disdain for her constituents, there are a number of strong challengers in 2018 who will make her regret her negligence.
In particular, Tedra Cobb, an eight-year veteran of the St. Lawrence County Legislature, has pledged that if voted into office, she will hold twelve town halls per year throughout the district. That's what courage, accessibility and integrity look like.