Dan Lamb brought his campaign for Congress in the new 22nd District to Rome Rotary Tuesday.
"Public service is something that resonates with me," he told the group at the Franklin Hotel shortly after praising the Rotary motto of "Service Above Self." His mother was a public health nurse and his father was a career naval officer.
"I am asking for you to look at who you want to represent this area," the Democrat said as he began talking about his campaign for the House of Representatives. "I feel there’s some work that needs to be done in this region."
Lamb outlined his views on several topics, including jobs and the upstate economy, trade, Medicare and Social Security privatization, health care, extending federal tax cuts, campaign financing, and hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas. Several times he drew distinctions between himself and the incumbent on how they differed on issues.
The race pits Lamb, who was an aide to a New York congressman for more than 14 years before deciding to run for Congress earlier this year, against incumbent Republican Richard L. Hanna, who first won election in 2010, ousting Michael A. Arcuri. The election is Nov. 6.
"I am particularly concerned about the upstate economy," he said, adding that more needs to be done to attract young people to colleges in the district and then keep them here after they complete school. He said attention needs to be paid to developing sectors in the local economy and traditional manufacturers.
He noted that he visited Revere Copper Products a week ago to talk about how trade laws and policies impact American businesses.
"We’ve seen businesses across this upstate district affected by trade laws," he said.
Lamb criticized Republican proposals to change aspects of Medicare, the federal health care program for senior citizens and the disabled.
"My opponent Richard Hanna has now voted twice to voucherize Medicare," Lamb said, adding this was something he opposed.
He later said he did not support proposals to privatize Social Security, a move he said Hanna was willing to at least consider. Lamb said his preference would be to boost the amount of individual income subject to Social Security taxes to put the program on a stronger fiscal footing.
"I’m opposed to that," the hopeful said of privatization.
Lamb also was critical for Hanna’s support of the federal budget pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan, who is now the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket.
On extending tax cuts that are due to expire in January, Lamb said they should be renewed for people with incomes of up to $400,000. Those with higher incomes would pay more taxes. Some Republicans want all tax cuts extended — though Hanna is not among them.
Lamb said tax cuts and revenue enhancements are necessary to balance the federal budget.
"We need to have mix of both to make this work," he said.
This comment was similar to what Hanna told the Rotarians a week ago when he spoke to the group.
"I have taken a position that New York is not ready for this," Lamb said of the controversial natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing.
He said health studies should be completed and statutes revamped before New York decides on whether to allow hydrofracking. Parts of the 22nd District are in the area where hydrofracking could occur should it be permitted in New York.
Personal wealth differences between the two candidates was also an area touched on by Lamb. He described the contest in the 22nd as "a referendum on whether a middle class guy can get elected" to Congress. Hanna was in the contracting business for a number of years and is a millionaire; Lamb is not.
He described Congress as a "millionaires’ club."
He said the current Congress is the "least productive, least popular, most partisan" ever.