Election 2010: Voters Choice
Read what two local Congressional candidates have to say about the issues — and preview three state races that will have an impact on the Valley
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Squaring off: Hayworth challenges incumbent Rep. John Hall (below, right) in the 19th District (a seat Hall has held since 2006)
Hudson Valley: Why are you running for Congress?
Nan Hayworth: Conviction and passion. When the supermajority was elected in November ’08, I became concerned about their reach and the continued expansion of the federal government that had already begun before that election. But they proceeded to carry the involvement of the federal government and the financial future of all of our citizens far beyond what the Constitution says.
There’s one word to describe me: I am a constitutionist. I believe fervently this is the greatest nation ever to exist, precisely because of the design of the Constitution that created a federal government with limited powers and that granted unprecedented freedoms to citizens. Because of that passionately held belief, I felt I could be an effective advocate.
Even my professional background, running a small business with my first practice, and my experience as a physician in a service profession; wife of 29 years and mother for about 20 years; I have elderly parents who lived in the district for 22 years — I think I have something to offer in terms of knowledge, experience and the desire to serve. I love to meet people and listen to them, take their concerns to heart, and try to work on solutions.
Had you considered a political career before? Or was it something that first came about in 2008?
In December ’08, my husband, actually, said to me: “You should run for Congress.” It was one of those moments, when someone will say something and it will strike a chord: “Well, maybe I should.” And that began a fairly extensive round of trial balloons with friends and colleagues. I’d tell them, “I’m thinking of running for Congress,” and see how they responded.
Did they respond positively?
They did. Many of them questioned my sanity, but in the nicest possible way.
You grew up in Indiana, then went to Princeton for college and Cornell for medical school. What made you choose to move to the Hudson Valley?
My husband Scott took a job with the Mount Kisco Medical Group in 1988. So we moved to Mount Kisco, and I felt at home from the very start. My favorite form of relaxation is to take a walk around the center of town. But I really haven’t had much time to do that in the past year and a half, unfortunately.
What else do you like to do to relax, when you do manage to find some time?
My moments of relaxation come down now to giving my cats a hug and a kiss. And enjoying the company of my family whenever I can manage to spend some time with them. I have the great blessing of being with cherished friends much of the time so I don’t find the campaign trail to be burdensome.
There are all kinds of challenges, but there are so many compensatory blessings that it would be small-minded of me to say I’m stressed.
So you’re a cat person?
I am. We just lost my precious Laura, who died of complications of heart disease last week. But she lived a charmed life, to say the very least.
We just adopted a little girl [cat]. One of my friends said, “You know, you have so much love to give, and there are so many little ones who need it. Don’t wait. Bring another cat into your life.” She was found full of sores, on a street in the Bronx, three months ago. She was nursed back to better health, and she’s in good shape now.
A Democrat who lives in Dover Plains, John Hall — who faces off with Hayworth for the 19th District seat — was profiled by Joe Queenan in HV’s October 2006 issue
How has your husband been involved in the campaign?
He’s been extraordinarily helpful in many ways. It was his suggestion that I run — it was strictly because he thought I’d be a perfect congresswoman, not because of some self-aggrandizing motive or anything like that. And he’s undergone sacrifices. Family time is almost none. They go on vacations without me, because I’m here. He’s poured a lot of energy and effort into the campaign.
You have two sons?
Yes, they’re 19 and 17 years old. The oldest is a senior at Simon’s Rock, which is a division of Bard College. He’s actually deferred his senior year in order to help with the campaign. We’re delighted he decided to do that. He’s been indispensable to me.
What is your biggest concern as a parent raising children in the Hudson Valley?
My biggest concern is that they and everyone of their generation will have the opportunity that Americans have had since the founding of this country. No other country in history has moved so many millions from poverty and despair to prosperity.
I do fear that a federal government that spends as extremely as this one does, that is nationalizing enormous chunks of our economy and seeing itself as the regulator of all things, will stifle a vibrant economy, as well as innovation and creativity. [I fear that] all of the great things we think about when we think about free enterprise, that those things won’t be available, not only on the personal side but in terms of our strength as the greatest democracy in the world. We have to defend this country, and we are weakened when our economy is weakened.
Do you feel you’ve experienced any special challenges — or advantages — as a woman running for office?
I’ve always been one of those people who doesn’t look at gender when I go into an endeavor. Other than childbearing, of course. (Laughs.) But being a mother has certainly informed my view of the world, and I think it has been very helpful. One of the things you appreciate as a mother is you can encounter substantial challenges to your own view to the way things can be ordered. But in terms of my gender per se, I haven’t perceived it as an impediment.
On your Web site, you say taxes are “killing” the Hudson Valley. What do you mean by that?
On the ground in the district, my fellow citizens describe overwhelmingly that they are having trouble — if not in their own lives directly, in the lives of their friends and their neighbors and their loved ones. They’re worried about being able to afford to stay New Yorkers. The federal tax burden, federal spending, and new regulations have a chilling effect on enterprise, on businesses big and small, on all of the endeavors we use to keep body and soul together. We have empty storefronts. We have employers who are leaving the area, or who are reluctant to hire or grow because they don’t know what this government is going to do. It’s the number one concern of the people who live in District 19.
What we tax, we suppress. You get less of what you tax. Now, certain reasonable taxes can be levied on the things our government really needs to do on the local, state, and federal level. This federal government is spending like mad on a jobless stimulus. There have been no net benefits from the $1 trillion, when you add it all up, that has been spent in the stimulus. We’re the ones who are paying the taxes that are bailing out industries that have not had a bearing, in terms of benefits, on the lives of the people in our district. We feel as though we’re spending for a lot of stuff and getting very little for that money, if anything. We have projects that need to be done in the district, that our municipalities should be able to fund. They can’t fund them because they’re losing their tax base. People’s incomes are shrinking, people are leaving. We could do so much better.
Which taxes do you believe should be lowered?
You’d like to see taxes reduced across the board, with corresponding cuts in spending. It’s easy to say, I recognize. It will be an ongoing challenge to accomplish that. But what do we intend to do? As expeditiously as possible, we intend to perpetuate the ’01 and ’03 tax cuts. I’d like to see them made permanent. I would definitely like to see the Alternative Minimum Tax eliminated, the death tax eliminated, capital gains or corporate dividend taxes reduced. That’s true stimulus because when the resources and money stay in the private sector, good things can happen. Even if the money’s simply in the bank, the bank can use those funds to make loans.
We also need to control spending. The new health law entails an enormous new burden in federal spending. The goal is good. It’s just a very bad law. But we can do it better, if we have the resolve to suspend this bill and repeal it. If we have a veto-proof majority in the Congress, both houses, we can repeal it. But if not, we will steadily defund it and depower it, and work to replace it with a plan that allows insurance to be sold across state lines and empowers health savings accounts. It will control costs so the consumers will be in charge. One of the big problems with the law is that ultimately the federal government will be deciding how to allocate resources for health care. I would rather the American public make those decisions for themselves. And we need liability reform. Because defensive medicine is an enormous cost and a waste of resources.
So in the case of certain items under the new health care law — children being able to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26; no lifetime cap on benefits; insurers not being allowed to deny benefits based on preexisting conditions — you wouldn’t want the federal government to regulate that sort of thing? You’d leave it up to the market?
The problem is that when the federal government mandates it, it becomes something every policyholder has to pay for. And those particular items may not be something every policyholder wants to pay for. A marketplace always ends up with a variety of choices, because there’s a market for those who want to insure people up to age 26. Go after that market. But make it a choice for people, and then they can decide how much or how little they want to pay for it. Some people want more contingencies, some want less. I’d rather pay less on my policy and pay more on the other end.
Partisanship seems as intense as ever in Congress, and some of these issues you’ve described — taxes, health care — are major problems. Do members of Congress need to make a better effort at bipartisanship and compromise on these issues? Or are these issues so important that members need to fight for what they believe in, regardless of the discord it creates?
This Congress has been dominated by a certain philosophy, which sees bigger government as the source of all solutions, and the challenges we face as having to be solved by increased regulation, increased federal government involvement, increased spending. Republicans in this Congress have been in the position of representing the taxpayer and the private sector, and I think that’s where they had to be. Because what has passed has been damaging to the economy and the citizens these regulations are supposed to help. The employment rate has risen. Our college graduates are especially afflicted by a lack of opportunity. Among the less wealthy, the jobless rate is even worse. It’s a decline that affects all of us.
I think you’re going to see strong advocacy. I think there will be a new majority, and you are going to see very strong advocacy, especially given that those of us who are running on the Republican side — because generally small-government advocates are going to be Republicans — are being given unequivocal orders, if you will, by the voting public, that they want to see the spending stop, they want to see their taxes reduced, they want to see the private sector grow again, they want to see the government shrink.
You want to see strong advocacy in that way. It has to be done with an attitude that is not bitter, that is not accusatory, that acknowledges that all of us have this job to do together. But there is going to be the rise of a new philosophy that brings the government back within its constitutional bounds.
The biggest storyline this political season has been the rise of the Tea Party. Your opponent in the Republican primary, Neil DiCarlo, frequently identified himself as a Tea Party member. Do you?
I’m a member of the Hudson Valley Patriots. I am a proud Son of Liberty and I’ve been endorsed by the Tri-State Sons of Liberty [which] is not a Tea Party group per se; it’s a patriot group concentrating on the Constitution.
What I have in common with members of the Tea Party in general, is that we do emphasize what the Constitution laid out as the plan for the United States of America. I share the concern that I perceive on the part of members of the Tea Party that the federal government has grown far beyond those boundaries, in ways that present a threat from within. In those senses, I am totally in agreement with that enormous enthusiasm toward returning to the Constitution, respecting the enumerated powers, and respecting what’s reserved to the states and citizens.
» Next: A chat with Rep. Maurice Hinchey