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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Sandy Treadwell (continued)
Are you able to visit the Hudson Valley very much?
Yes, when I was secretary of state, I worked with folks in Red Hook, Tivoli, Marist College. I enjoyed spending time in the Hudson Valley. So beautiful, so historic, and so important.
Did you get a chance to do anything recreationally at all, a chance to run down here or anything?
I did spend a lot of time traveling. I met Wint Aldrich, who is an expert on the history of the Hudson Valley. I spent a great two days with him, learning about communities and the history there.
I was wondering if we could talk about politics. You attended the Republican convention in St. Paul. What did you think of John McCain and Sarah Palin’s speeches?
I was a national Republican party committeeman, and my term ended with the gavel closing at the convention, so I went there for two days as part of my responsibility. I sat with the New York delegation and listened to Gov. Palin; I had no idea she was going to give such a great speech. She certainly rocked the Xcel Center. The following night was Sen. McCain. I’ve been an ardent supporter of Sen. McCain, and listening to his life story, especially his war experience as a prisoner in Vietnam, was, I felt, very moving. They’re a very strong ticket in this district and I’m proud to be running on the same ticket.
What do you say to people who question Palin’s experience as an executive?
She’s been a very successful governor in two years. She took on the status quo; she ran in the primary against an incumbent; she took on Big Oil. I think she’s got a great record, and what really underlines that is her 80 percent approval rating from the citizens of Alaska. They clearly think very highly of her job performance.
Some people have said the Obama and McCain campaigns have become increasingly nasty. Do you think that’s the case, or do you think it’s like any other presidential election so far?
Obviously, this is an election that’s gone on for a very long time. Sen. McCain wanted them to have town hall debates and travel the country together, and I thought that was a great idea. That’s an opportunity for citizens and voters to hear both of them, in a somewhat informal atmosphere. I’m sorry that Sen. Obama didn’t agree to that. I want to do the same thing in my campaign. I’ve asked my opponent to try and do town halls. I think that’s just a great way to have a real conversation and a dialogue. That sort of a discussion elevates the dialogue beyond 30-second ads, but it’s clearly not going to happen, regrettably.
Let’s talk about some of the issues facing Valley residents and members of the 20th District. What do you think are some of the biggest issues?
One thing is the energy crisis — the cost of fuel at the gas pump, obviously the cost of heating our homes this winter. And it’s not just the fuel prices but it’s also prices at the store, prices of groceries.
I spent a day with a friend of mine, Bill Sutton. He was living the American dream — he was a truck driver, and worked for others for about 16 years, then he put enough money aside to buy his own truck. Bill was doing fine until the amazing escalation of costs of diesel fuel. He was doing a delivery from Washington County to Westchester County, and the first stop was at a gas station. He said, “Fill it up to $1,000,” which was what he paid to fill up his tanks. He told me that his American dream was collapsing. He can’t continue at these soaring diesel prices.
We’re still a country with an oil-based economy, and as long as we are, we have to have independence from foreign oil. The federal government needs to do something about it. I made a proposal from my end, but the sad thing is the government isn’t doing a thing about it.
And obviously the second part of our energy problem is our federal government has to encourage the production and development of the fuels of the future — wind, solar, biofuels. Instead of being the number one importer of foreign oil, I think we ought to be the number one exporter of renewables. That would be wonderful for the economy of the Hudson Valley and across America. I don’t have to tell you how beautiful the Valley is. I would challenge anyone to have a more beautiful congressional district than this one. We’ve got major schools and universities, and I think we have a very bright future. But the barrier, of course, is the taxes that are imposed on us. That prevents businesses from coming here and growing here. The only pledge that I have made is I will never vote to raise taxes on individuals and businesses.
Speaking of taxes, based on your Web sites and public statements, both you and Congresswoman Gillibrand have said you want to extend the 2001 and 2003 middle-class tax cuts. How does your proposal differ from hers, specifically?
Well, she’s not for extending the tax cuts. She has signed on to the largest scheduled, massive tax increase, for when those cuts expire. And I’m an absolute advocate for continuing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. They’re all due to expire at the end of 2010.
I spoke to her and she said —
We have a very different view on that. Our economy is struggling, and this is the wrong time to raise taxes. She has voted for this scheduled tax increase, which will kick in in 2011. It’s actually the biggest tax increase in American history.