GHENT–Candidates Chris Gibson and Julian Schreibman are running for the seat in Congress representing the newly redrawn 19th Congressional District. The district includes all of Columbia, Greene, Schoharie, Otsego, Delaware, Sullivan, and Ulster counties, and parts of Rensselaer, Dutchess, Montgomery, and Broome counties.
Mr. Gibson, a Kinderhook resident, is completing his first term, after defeating first term Democrat Scott Murphy two years ago. The Republican candidate, a retired career officer in the Army, currently represents a district that includes parts of the new district, including this county.
But the most populous part of the new 19th District is Ulster County, the home of Democrat Julian Schreibman, a former CIA attorney, federal prosecutor and assistant district attorney. Ulster is currently represented by a Democrat, and Mr. Schreibman formerly led the Democratic Party in Ulster. Among the roughly 420,000 registered voters in the district, Republicans hold an 11,000 voter edge, but typical of Upstate districts, voters not enrolled in any political party comprise the third largest bloc. Columbia, Ulster and Sullivan counties are the only three counties where Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district.
The election is Tuesday, November 6.
Chris Gibson, 48, is the Republican candidate running for the seat in Congress representing the redrawn 19th district. He currently serves in Congress representing the 20th District.
Mr. Gibson grew up in the Village of Kinderhook, the son of a mechanic and union member. At age 17, Mr. Gibson enlisted in the National Guard as a private in the infantry. The first in his family to go to college, he attended Sienna and went into the Army after graduating. He spent 24 years in service, rising to the rank of colonel. Over the course of his career, he served multiple combat tours of duty, which included leading paratroopers into battle.
He says his focus is on job creation in the district. He believes what will help create jobs is the Cooper-LaTourette budget, a bipartisan bill defeated this year after receiving only 38 votes. He says that his opponent is mistaken when he calls the budget a tax increase.
“It’s not a tax increase,” said Mr. Gibson. “It closes the loopholes for corporations and wealthy, which allows us to lower rates for small businesses and middle class families.”
The Congressman says that this budget is about 75% similar to the proposal made by the deficit reduction commission appointed by President Obama, and also limits the growth of spending over a 10 year period.
Mr. Gibson says that this is the only budget Democrats and Republicans will work together on. He believes this budget can get more attention again going forward.
Bipartisanship is something Mr. Gibson says Washington needs more of, and he stresses his bipartisan record. The Washington Post ranks him as the third most independent Republican in the House of Representatives, and the National Journal ranked his 2011 voting record at the center of the House. He says he also has a wide variety of endorsements including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Building Trades Union, the Chamber of Commerce, National Rifle Association, Conserve America, and the teachers’ union.
“Its clear evidence that I’m able to attract bipartisan support and bring people together to get things done,” he said.
During his first term in Congress, Mr. Gibson was responsible for an amendment that went against his leadership regarding a loan program to foster rural access to broadband communications, led the effort along with others in fighting Lyme disease, and led efforts for recovery from Hurricanes Irene and Lee.
The congressman received the “Friend of the Farm Bureau Award” for his and voting record on behalf of New York farmers.
On Medicare, he believes something needs to be done because nonpartisan trustees say the program will be bankrupt in a decade. “I think the most important thing on Medicare is we’re going to have to work together,” said Mr. Gibson. “It’s important that we save the program and then strengthen it going forward.” He believes the Cooper-LaTourette budget will be the answer.
He does not support hydraulic fracturing until it is clear that water supplies and air quality can be protected, though he does see its potential for job creation and reduction of energy costs.
The congressman said he wants to set the record straight on his positions regarding Planned Parenthood and abortions. He said the statements made by his opponent that he voted to deny women abortions are “completely false.” He says that an abortion should be a private choice, though he does not support late-term abortions or using taxpayer money to fund abortions.
The Congressman imposed term limits on himself. He would serve no more than eight years.
Chris Gibson’s election website is www.chrisgibsonforcongress.com.
Julian Schreibman, 39, the Democratic candidate, grew up in a middle class family in Ulster County, and was the first member of his family to go to college. He served as an attorney with the CIA, where he prosecuted terrorists on a case called The United States v. Osama bin Laden. He also worked as a federal prosecutor in New York before moving back home to become an assistant district attorney in Ulster County.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Schreibman, said that the most important issue for him in the campaign is that the focus in Washington needs to be put back on the economy and jobs.
“People sent Chris Gibson to Washington on a pledge that he would focus on jobs,” he said. “Instead, it’s been all about the Tea Party drive to privatize Medicare, restrict a woman’s right to choose, defund Planned Parenthood.”
Mr. Schreibman says there are several things that can be done differently to improve the economy and create jobs. They include tax breaks for small businesses, relief from regulatory burdens that may be inappropriate for businesses in this region, and wise investments in areas such as education, rural broadband access and upgrading the electrical grid.
Mr. Schreibman believes there could be better agricultural policies to better fit the region’s farming community. He said that the policies that come out of Washington tend to fit big business farms.
“It is terrific that Columbia County this year has more farmers than last year,” he said. “We have family farms in upstate New York and we need policy that fits for them.”
He is against hydraulic fracturing “based on the evidence that it is risky on the environment as well as risky for the economy.”
Concerning Iran, he says that a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable and that all other options should be exhausted before taking military actions.
He supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood, saying it’s a critical healthcare provider in the region. He criticized Congressman Gibson on the topic, saying “that the Congressman voted to defund Planned Parenthood twice really demonstrates how far out of step he is with the priorities of upstate New Yorkers.”
Mr. Schreibman also says he disagrees with the Congressman’s view on Medicare, saying that Mr. Gibson “voted to end the guarantee, to turn it into this voucher system that independent analysts say will force seniors to pay thousands more out of pocket.” Mr. Schreibman says he will work toward preserving Medicare, but that the most important step in doing so is improving the economy so more people are working and paying into the fund.
He says Congressman Gibson really serves the tea party agenda though he stresses his bipartisanship. Mr. Schreibman believes the congressman is trying to remake himself in the new district.
Mr. Schreibman says that he is qualified for the seat in Washington to represent the new 19th District because of his experience growing up in a struggling middle class family. His mother owns a ballet school in Kingston, so he also knows what small businesses are going through. He says he also understands what a difference educational opportunity makes, as he would have been unable to go to college without the help of a Pell grant and student loans.
Additionally, “a career spent in nonpartisan public service that has given me not only experience and insight but also an attitude of understanding that we need to work with everyone to find solutions across the aisle,” he said.
Julian Schreibman’s website address is http://julianforny.com.