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

You were in Denver for the Democratic convention in August, and were able to speak to the Women’s Caucus and be on the floor for Barack Obama’s speech. What was it like to be there for that historic moment?
Gillibrand: It was very exciting. There was an enormous amount of energy at that stadium, and there were so many people who were looking at Sen. Obama as someone who could fulfill so many of their hopes and dreams for this country. It was quite an electric moment.

On the topic of the presidential election, what do you think about how nasty the campaign has become between McCain and Obama? Do you think it’s different than most presidential elections?
No, I think it’s similar to other campaigns. It’s not surprising. It’s typical for a political discourse.

How do you feel about Sarah Palin being the first woman on the Republican ticket?
I think she’s a very strong candidate and she makes their ticket much stronger.

Are you glad to see a female on one of the tickets?
You know, I always am happy to see more women in public service, which is one of the reasons why I supported Sen. Clinton for President. However, just being a woman isn’t enough. I don’t agree with the governor on many issues, so the questions I ask are, “Are these candidates going to support middle-class tax cuts? Are they going to work to provide health insurance for all American kids? Are they going to work on energy independence in the next decade?” I don’t think that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin will do those things for our district or for America.

Palin has received a fair amount of criticism about whether she can handle the VP slot while having an infant at home. As an elected representative who has your own infant at home, what do you make of that?
I think all working parents figure it out. In our district, most parents are working parents, and most moms are working moms. No matter what their job is, parents do their best to do their job well and to be the best parents they can be. It’s certainly something that I work on every day.

Speaking of home, how do you and your husband juggle parenting and work duties in two places — Greenport in Columbia County, and in D.C.?
We make it work. The one blessing we have is my mother and father and my husband’s parents are very helpful, so we have a lot of family support. We have to have a very supportive family to make it work.

Do you come home to Columbia County most weekends? How do you handle the split?
We’re all in D.C. together Monday through Friday, then either I come on my own or we come as a family most weekends. We prefer to be in Hudson because my family and all of the kids’ cousins are in upstate New York.


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