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Candidates express differing views in 21st Congressional District

Posted 10/28/22

Democrat Matt Castelli and Republican Elise Stefanik, candidates in New York’s 21st Congressional District, have answered a Q&A from the Daily Sentinel.

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Candidates express differing views in 21st Congressional District

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Democrat Matt Castelli and Republican Elise Stefanik, candidates in New York’s 21st Congressional District, have answered a Q&A from the Daily Sentinel to allow voters to get to know them better. 

Stefanik is the incumbent and has represented the 21st District in Congress since 2015. 

NOTE: Each candidate was allotted the same amount of space for their response. Candidate responses were minimally edited by the Daily Sentinel for spelling, formatting, and AP style. 

The issue of election integrity has mired the political landscape in the past few years. If you were to lose this election, would you challenge the integrity of the election? 

Castelli: No, I trust in the integrity of New York’s elections and unlike my opponent, Elise Stefanik who continues to deny the results of the 2020 election, I accept the results of elections even when I don’t like them. NY-21 deserves a representative who puts the strength of our democracy ahead of politics.

Stefanik: I support strengthening and securing the integrity of our elections by requiring voter ID, chain of custody for ballots and signature verification. I have been proud to win by historic margins since running for Congress and, in some races, my Democrat opponents never conceded on Election Night. I respect the outcome of elections in New York’s 21st District and will be taking a concession call on Election Night from my Downstate Democrat opponent before he moves back to Poughkeepsie.

There haven’t been any debates between you and your opponent. Why not?

Castelli: While I agreed to all debate invitations we received from outlets across NY-21, my opponent Elise Stefanik has refused to debate me, dodging any accountability to the voters for her unpopular agenda, failure to deliver for NY-21 and selling us out to advance her career.

Stefanik: I have debated more than any other Congressional candidate in North Country history in both primary and general elections and our campaign is in discussions with numerous media outlets and community organizations. My downstate Democrat opponent from Poughkeepsie is the only candidate in history who did zero debates in his primary. Far left Democrat Party leadership did everything they could to prop up this downstate Democrat by blocking any debates or open forums in the primary, while his own campaign worked with the local media to avoid a primary debate at all costs. After desperately avoiding a primary debate, the downstate Democrat candidate from Poughkeepsie wants to dictate the schedule and terms and handpick the moderators and questions, which is laughable and absolutely unacceptable to voters. The facts are that I have debated more than any other Congressional candidate in modern history, while my opponent is the only candidate who has debated zero times and has refused all fair debates.

The repeal of Roe v. Wade has brought the topic of abortion and laws banning abortion into the spotlight. What are your views on abortion and on laws banning abortion? 

Castelli: I fully support women’s freedom to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without interference from the government and will fight for that freedom in Congress. My opponent Elise Stefanik is committed to forcing through a national abortion ban, advancing vast government overreach into our personal lives, and threatening the reproductive freedom of every woman in NY-21. Stefanik believes that women and doctors should be criminalized for seeking and providing healthcare, that the government should control our family planning, and that women should be left to die in situations where continued pregnancy poses a threat to their lives.

Stefanik: As the only young mother or woman in this race, I am pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. I support increasing access to FDA-approved contraception and support the Hyde Amendment to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not fund abortions. I have a strong record of advocating for pregnancy crisis centers, improving maternal health and am the leading voice in the country fighting to address the baby formula crisis. This is in stark contrast with my far left downstate Democrat opponent who supports radical late-term abortion up to and after birth with no exceptions. The downstate Democrat from Poughkeepsie also supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because he wants taxpayer dollars to fund abortions around the world.

What are your thoughts on student loan debt forgiveness and President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan?

Castelli: My big concern is that it doesn’t address the root problems that make college unaffordable. I’d like to see targeted loan forgiveness to those in need and for specific service — like healthcare professionals and teachers in our rural communities, measures to make college more affordable for working families, and an end to predatory lending practices. But let’s be clear, Elise Stefanik is a total hypocrite on this. Her family took over $125,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans that were forgiven; she believes in loan forgiveness for her family, just not for yours.

Stefanik: I oppose Joe Biden’s trillion-dollar student loan bailout, which is unfair to the hardworking families who worked hard to pay off their loans or decided to enter the workforce rather than take out college loans. Joe Biden’s student loan bailout is a trillion-dollar tax hike on hardworking families and will cause the cost of college to skyrocket. I have introduced legislation to simplify and address student loan debt and am working to lower the cost of college. I am also a strong advocate for workforce development.

What’s on your mind that no one else is talking about?  

Castelli: For too long the most extreme voices on the left and the right have dominated politics and don’t reflect the views of the majority of Americans, our shared values, and the desire to work together to solve common challenges. And blind loyalty to party and political figures — instead of loyalty to the American people they were elected to represent — continues to give oxygen to the extremes. It is time that the rest of us made our voices heard, because there are far more of us in the great moderate majority than there are of those on the extremes. That’s why I’m running on the Democratic and the Moderate party lines, to restore trust by returning government to what it’s good at: security, roads and bridges, strengthening communities, and to stay out of our personal lives. In NY-21, we don’t like being told what to do or who to follow. We think for ourselves and come together in our communities across party lines to solve problems. It’s time our representative in Washington was part of that proud tradition. The extremes on the right and the left have plenty of loud voices, I’ll be a fighter for everyone else.

Stefanik: I am focused on the top concerns of my constituents: fighting historic inflation, lowering the cost of energy, gas, utilities, home heating bills, supporting our law enforcement, standing up for the Constitution and Second Amendment Rights and standing up for Upstate New York hardworking families, seniors, small businesses, farms and veterans.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The state’s redrawn 21st Congressional District, includes all or part of more than a dozen counties, including Herkimer and Lewis counties. 

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