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A Preview of the June 28 Primaries in NY Districts 19, 20, and 21

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Upcoming Congressional Primaries in NY Districts 19, 20, and 21

Zephyr Teachout, Matt Funiciello and John Faso are Running for Upstate Congressional Seats on June 28

As this year’s Presidential campaign has morphed into madness, we’d like to take a moment and focus on some of the other races in our area, especially those in NY Congressional Districts 19, 20 and 21. While incumbents Paul Tonko and Elise Stefanik are running for re-election, there are some new faces entering the campaign and making some headway. Primary day is Tuesday, June 28, so here’s a quick breakdown of these particular races and the candidates who want your vote.

NY District 19:

Election 2016. Photo Courtesy of americanballotbox.comIncumbent Congressman Chris Gibson (R), who’s been in office since 2011 (and was originally in the 20th district, before he was redistricted to the 19th) is not seeking re-election this year (yet, there are rumors swirling that he may try for Governor in the near future). Therefore, it’s a grab for his seat.

At present, there are two Republicans vying for his seat: Andrew Heaney, a small business owner from Washington in Dutchess County, and former State Assemblyman John Faso who lives in Kinderhook.

Mr. Heaney’s campaign is focusing on numerous issues, including Washington reform, veterans issues, the economy, national security, tax reform, fiscal responsibility, education, immigration and healthcare.

Mr. Faso’s campaign is stressing veterans rights, gun rights, jobs in upstate NY, national security, affordable higher education, and drug issues.

Zephyr Teachout, and Will Yandik are the two Democrats vying for Mr. Gibson’s seat.

A resident of Dutchess County, Ms. Teachout is an Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University, who competed against Governor Cuomo for his seat in the 2014 primary. Despite her loss in that primary, she greatly surprised skeptics by receiving 34% of the vote. Ms. Teachout’s core issues are campaign finance and corruption, protecting public education, renewable energy, small business and innovation, creating local jobs, and public safety. Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed Ms. Teachout, earlier this year.

In addition to being a farmer, a journalist, an educator and an environmental leader, Mr. Yandik is currently the Livingston deputy supervisor in Columbia County. According to his website, Mr. Yandik “has been an advocate and leader for sustainable farming, clean and renewable energy, historic preservation, and empowering seniors to ensure their retirement security.” Among his core issues are a homegrown economy with an emphasis on local products, ending the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), equal pay for men and women, raising the minimum wage, clean water access and preventing pollution.

New York’s 19th Congressional District includes Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster counties and parts of Broome, Dutchess, Montgomery and Rensselaer counties.

NY District 20:

Known as a strongly Democratic leaning district, Incumbent Paul Tonko (D) will face Francis “Joe” Vitollo (R) this year.

Mr. Tonko was first elected in 2008. Before redistricting in 2012, Tonko represented NY Disctrict 21. His re-election campaign is focusing on improving healthcare, clean energy jobs, equal pay, expanding the middle class and budgeting responsibly.

Mr. Vitollo, who used to own a small construction business, is at present a registered nurse who works at a 60-bed emergency room in White Plains. Mr. Vittolo’s core issues are education, jobs, fiscal responsibility, gun rights, immigration, social security, healthcare, and national security.

Since both candidates are running unopposed in their own parties, they will not face any competitors in the primary.

New York’s 20th Congressional District includes Albany and Schenectady counties and well as parts of Rensselaer, Montgomery and Saratoga counties.

NY District 21:

Republican Incumbent Elise Stefanik will face Democrat Mike Derrick, and Green Party Candidate Matt Funiciello in the general election on November 8, 2016. No candidate will face any opposition in the primaries on June 28, 2016.

Ms. Stefanik currently holds the seat previously held by Bill Owens, who retired in 2014. Her campaign issues are the economy, regulatory & tax reform, healthcare, fiscal responsibility, agriculture, veterans issues, constitutional liberties and the 2nd amendment, immigration, energy, the environment, and education.

Mr. Funiciello is the owner of Rock Hill Bakehouse in South Glens Falls and the Rock Hill Bakehouse Cafe in Glens Falls. The Bakehouse currently employs 32 people in the area and Mr. Funiciello presently works there as a baker. Mr. Funiciello’s campaign is focusing on Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, a real farm policy, corporate welfare, energy and climate issues, a Green New Deal to improve our infrastructure, and reining in the military industrial complex.

Originally from Peru, NY, Mike Derrick attended West Point and served for 28 years in both the active and reserve forces, before retiring in 2013. Mr. Derrick’s campaign is focusing on returning jobs to the North Country, national security, protecting the environment, veterans issues, campaign finance, equal pay, and improving education.

This race will be a rematch for Ms. Stefanik and Mr. Funiciello who both faced each other in 2014. Aaron Woolf ran as the Democratic candidate in that race, and came in second. Ms. Stefanik received 53% of the vote over 32.5% for Mr. Woolf and 10.6% for Mr. Funiciello.

New York’s 21st Congressional District includes Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Washington and Fulton counties and parts of Saratoga and Herkimer counties.

US Senate:

Incumbent Senior Senator Chuck Schumer is up for re-election this year. While strongly considered to win another term (he’s held his seat since 1998), Mr. Schumer will face Republican Wendy Long, Green Robin Laverne Wilson, Libertarian Alex Merced, and Independent James LaSpino in the general election on November 8, 2016. None of the candidates will face a primary opponent on June 28.

A litigation attorney, Ms. Long ran against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012. In that race, Ms. Gillibrand (who is up for re-election in 2018) received 72.22% of the vote, with Ms. Long receiving 26.34%. Ms. Long’s campaign is focusing on term limits, anti-lobbying, anti-corruption, trade, immigration, education, small businesses, gun rights, rebuilding the military, the national debt, improving the infrastructure and energy independence.

Ms. Wilson is an artist, singer and political activist who has previously not held office. Here is a link to a recent speech where she discussed her campaign.

Mr. Merced is a Brooklyn based activist and self proclaimed “hipster tech geek” running on the Libertarian ticket. He ran for NYC Public Advocate as a Libertarian in 2013 and received 10,400 votes. Mr. Merced is running on a platform of promoting tolerance of individuals’ economic and social choices, protecting individuals rights to their justly acquired property, promoting the benefits of decentralized governance and community/voluntary problem solving, and promoting a peace based foreign policy centered around trade and diplomacy, not an isolationist policy based on war and bribery.

Mr. LaSpino is an Army veteran from Syracuse who is running as an Independent with Conservative leanings. He refers to himself as “A hard working ordinary blue collar guy.” He has summarized his platform as “Fighting against tyranny & lawlessness, fighting to maintain individual liberty & states’ rights.”

Results of the primary races will be posted once they come in. Don’t forget to vote!

Dave Bower is co-Publisher of The Free George. Photo Courtesy of

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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