Showdown in the 20th
Two local politicians go head-to-head to claim the 20th Congressional District seat. Plus: local races
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Kirsten Gillibrand (continued)
As someone who grew up in Albany and still lives in the Valley, what do you love most about autumn in this region?
I love the crisp air, the color of the trees. I love apples, and apple cider, and apple pies that seem to proliferate during the fall season. We like to go hiking in a lot of the areas around our district.
What about the pace of life in D.C. compared to home in Greenport?
There’s definitely an easier pace at home, and we spend a lot of time outdoors when we’re home. D.C.’s a city, so we enjoy rural life when we’re upstate. We enjoy going to the farmers’ markets; Theo, my four-year-old, very much prefers to be outside than inside, so we do a lot of outdoor activities, and we get to see more of our family.
I read an interview with your husband Jonathan in which he said that you and he don’t like to discuss politics too much. Is that true?
That’s definitely not true (laughs). We talk about the presidential election all the time. He may have meant more [about] my job and what I do every day. Jonathan is a conservative. He’s a Thatcherite — the only person he’s ever voted for is Margaret Thatcher. So I think when he made that comment, he was intimating he’s more conservative than I am on some issues.
Thatcher is the only person he’s voted for? Is he an American citizen?
No! He’s a green card holder. So he has not voted for me yet.
With what little free time you have, what do you like to do? Watch TV, read books, anything like that?
I like to take Henry and Theodore to the park. Most of my free time is spent with my children. Before I had children, I would have played sports or gone for a run or read a book, but there’s not a lot of time for that.
Let’s talk about the issues. What do you think are the three biggest issues facing your district right now?
I think the economy is the number one issue. The cost of gas is stifling. People are very worried about heating their homes this winter, they’re concerned about all their bills — paying for health care costs, paying for food and transportation. Which is one of the reasons why I focused a lot on middle-class tax cuts to pay for early childhood education, to pay for college education, to make property taxes tax-deductible. I focused my efforts on trying to lessen the burden on our families financially.
Health care is an enormous issue, affordable health care that’s far-reaching and having a health care system that actually works for rural communities. A lot of communities are underserved by both doctors and nurses, so there’s often not a lot of availability.
The third issue is property taxes. We pay some of the highest property taxes in the whole country. I supported having some kind of cap on property taxes, and I lobbied the governor on that. Fundamentally I support divorcing property taxes from school budgets and actually finding a different revenue stream for our school budgets. Federally I’ve been trying to work on making property tax tax-deductible. Normally property taxes are tax-deductible, but only for people who itemize their returns. Very few families who make less than $100,000 itemize their tax returns. What our bill did — what got passed in the mortgage package — was to make $1,000 tax deductible for everybody, whether you itemize or not.