“I want to be your congressman, which is why I’m applying for the job, right here right now.”
Just more than 16 months before the election, Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi Jr. announced his candidacy for congressman of New York’s 22nd district during a rally in downtown Utica Wednesday.
A native Utican, Brindisi vowed to be a representative for his community and be a voice for the middle class and for the place he chose to remain in to raise his family. Incumbent Republican Claudia L. Tenney has yet to announce her re-election campaign.
“We have to channel this energy because this community is getting a raw deal,” said the candidate as he addressed more than 100 constituents holding Brindisi for Congress campaign signs. “I’m not someone who just runs for any open space and moves on to a higher rank. I am someone who runs for public office because I believe public office is a calling.”
Supporters representing local labor unions and civic organizations, along with area politicians, gathered at the Liberty Bell Corner Park to express their support.
“He’s willing to look at everyone’s opinion. We’ve been begging Tenney for a town meeting for months and months — in fact she demonizes the area,” said Sally Myhr, retired school counselor from the Rome City School District and activist who is concerned about the “direction of the country.”
Myhr, holding her “Thanks for listening,” sign, said she has worked directly with impoverished children who rely on Medicaid and free breakfasts and lunch in school. She described Tenney as a “rubber stamp” of the Trump administration who is “anti-school and anti-community.”
Brindisi will “vote for the majority in support of public education, health care, refugees and environmental protection,” Myhr said.
Dr. Emerita A. Pizarro, a pediatrician in New Hartford, said she came out to “represent kids who need Medicaid.”
“Members of Congress do not think of us as a whole. Tenney voted against Medicaid. We have to care for the most vulnerable students,” Dr. Pizarro said.
Veteran Marron McLeod, vice commander of the Harold Provost American Legion Post in Utica, said he wanted to show his support for Brindisi’s bid for Congress because he not only supports veterans, but recently the assemblyman also presented him with the Mother Lavender Community Award for helping to feed the hungry.
“I’m a homegrown Utican and so is he, and we need a little more representation in government,” McLeod said.
“Anthony understands working families, our issues, and what we talk about at the dinner table,” said Patrick Costello, president of Internationl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 43, whose members were also in attendance. “He understands the importance of health care and collective bargaining. He’ll be the best representative this area’s had in a long time. We’ve supported Anthony since the beginning of his political career, and we’re really just tickled to death he’s making this move.”
Rome teacher Cam Tien came to support Brindisi as a representative of public education.
“He’s been great advocate for public schools, for getting us funding,” he said. “I’m a Democrat and a progressive, and he fights for what I believe in.”
“He fights for low energy costs and he’ll save our Medicare,” added John Melitle of Utica, holding his “Tenney will take your last penny” sign.
Ted Tottey, associate team leader for the Democratic Action Network political action group, said he was hoping Brindisi would run for the seat two years ago.
“I wanted him to run in 2016. I’ve been waiting for him to announce this for two years,” Tottey said. “It’s a great day.”
“I’m out here because he’s always been here for my union,” said Shatasha Brown, representing the Health Care Workers’ Union 1199. “I’m very stoked he’s running for Congress. I think he’s the man for the job. He’s definitely a great candidate. I know he’ll win.”
When addressing his constituents, Brindisi reiterated that he would listen to his community’s concerns and stand up and do what’s right for central New York.
“We want someone who listens to us — not someone who votes against our best interests,” he said. “I am that voice who will show up and get things done. Upstate New York was once the place where people came to to make their dreams come true. But for too long has become the land of broken promises. We must end this era of disappointment and restore hope in this community.”