Congressional aspirant Zephyr Teachout visited Amenia Sunday at noon in the small room over Back in the Kitchen, drawing a crowd of 50 or so. In her talk she emphasized the personal nature of her campaign. She wants to meet voters, not saturate them with TV ads. She has been meeting in small groups around the huge district that borders on four states – Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. She was in Stanfordville earlier this week.
One of her campaign themes has been big money in politics; she talks about representing voters, not corporations or hedge funds. She estimated that $5 million is being spent by PACS to defeat her campaign. She also wrote about big money in her book Corruption in America.
Her message to her mostly rural constituents is that they need a more active voice in Congress to work for more broadband and more cell-phone service. She will angle to get on the Agricultural Committee and do something about the price farmers get for their milk. She talked about bringing manufacturing jobs to the district. She noted that she visited plants in Orange County where new manufacturing businesses are starting—it can happen here, she said. But we need broadband. She talked about co-ops where facilities are shared. She wants to amend NAFTA and is against the Pacific Trade Agreement.
Teachout was against high-stakes testing and would support more funds for schools, so music, art and sports were considered as essentials for education. She was against any privatization of Social Security.
Teachout said this is the closest Congressional race. While the latest polls showed her three points ahead, she also said “that means we are in a tie.” Her campaign is now about getting every voter to the polls. She is building a campaign of local volunteers all over the district. She said, by way of contrast, that Republican PACs have hired people to make door-to-door visits while she relies on voters themselves to spread the word.
Teachout also said that she will spend more time working for her constituents than her opponent because he is caught in the constant need to raise funds by his party whereas she relies more on small contributions—she says her average donation is $19—that is raised through the Internet. That will free up her time so she can do what voters expect her to do: representing their interests.
She talked about women’s issues, her support by Senator Gillibrand (who once represented this area in Congress), fracking, the Pilgrim Pipeline, the threat of spills from the rail transport of Bakken crude along the Hudson, the need for alternative energy and how that can be the source of new employment.
Teachout mentioned that she is an advocate for the environment and is not beholden to polluters or big businesses who pay large sums so they can continue to pollute. She mentioned GE that paid no taxes but reported profits of $14 billion, yet failed to finish the clean-up of the PCB’s dumped in the Hudson.
Teachout left Amenia to attend a similar gathering in Hyde Park.