My parents were products of the depression, coming of age when families often faced catastrophic economic struggles. Those early experiences never left them and the value of hard work and the importance of family left a real impression on me and my brothers and sisters. Until we were older, my mother stayed home raising us and running the household. My dad had a TV repair and tool rental shop and after he closed the business he worked as the custodian at our local Catholic parish and grammar school.
My father was an electrician, so to earn extra money on his day off, he’d install air conditioners directly into the wall of people’s homes. I’d help with the wiring, framing and wall repair. It was hard work, but it made a difference for our family – a little extra money could go a long way.
My mother instilled in me that education was a way to a better future. After graduating SUNY Brockport, I went on to earn a law degree at Georgetown University – working full-time and going to school at night. My time at Georgetown was a turning point for me – besides earning my degree, I also met my wife, Mary Frances.
We’ve been married for nearly 35 years, making our home in Kinderhook. For almost 20 years, she’s has been the nurse at our local public high school. We’ve also been active participants in our community. Mary Fran served for many years on the board of the Capital Region Red Cross. I’ve participated in local service organizations, including the fundraising foundation for our local hospital in Hudson. I’ve also spent many years as a lector at our parish.
Continuing my state public service, I served three years as a member of the control board working to fix the financial and managerial issues with the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo City School District. Nationally, I served for seven years as a Presidential appointee to the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation which provides important training for high school history teachers across the nation. I also formerly served as a board member at the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
Mary Frances and I chose Kinderhook and the 19th Congressional District to make our home because it was special. We’ve been blessed, with both our kids through college and post-graduate education and striking out on their own. But like many parents these days we worry about what the future may hold for them and their generation. A lot of us are left wondering if our children will have the same chances we did to live here in Upstate New York, start a career and raise a family of their own.
I want to work to change that.
Many of you know me from my previous service in elected office and my run for Governor of New York in 2006. While I didn’t win that election, I raised significant issues – some of which like the property tax cap I proposed – have since been enacted into law. I’ve always had a desire to serve, motivated to help people and solve problems. Since leaving public service after 2006, I’ve continued to advocate for issues and causes I’ve always believed in such as an improved private sector economy and better educational opportunities for all of our children.
While serving in office I developed a reputation as “tight-fisted” (while Mary Frances politely refers to it as being frugal). I don’t apologize for reading through budget bills while in the state Assembly – calling out and drawing attention to wasteful spending and fiscal gimmicks. I’ll do the same in Congress if you send me to Washington. In Albany I’m proud to have developed and pushed proposals that lead to real balanced budgets, including the first reduction in state spending in decades while closing a $5 billion deficit. I’m not ashamed to be called a fiscal conservative or, tight-fisted! After all, I learned the value of a dollar from my Mom and Dad.
From shepherding the proposal that created charter schools in New York, to helping to establish the STAR program, and fighting against financial gimmicks in Albany, I feel that I’ve been able to make a difference for families and taxpayers across New York State.
Elections are about the future and I want to use all my experiences – from being a husband and father, to serving in the state Assembly and everything in between – to try to make a difference for the people of our congressional district. I’ve lived here and served here; now I’m hoping to earn your support to be that voice in Washington for you and your family.
From my experience, I know that one party or one person doesn’t have all the answers to the issues facing our nation. But, I know with principled and dedicated leadership we have the capacity to fix our problems and leave a better future for our children and grandchildren. I would be honored to have you join me in this effort.