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Voter guide: David Kimmel
September 10, 2012 - Chris Morris
And here are David Kimmel's responses to my candidate questions.
Consolidate into one sentence why you would make a better, more effective member of the Assembly than the incumbent?
The biggest reason I would make a better, more effective Member of the Assembly is because I have considerably more diverse and objectively verifiable leadership experience and training.
What would your top priorities as a state lawmaker be?
While there are certainly other issues that will arise, here are the things I will focus on:
1.) Rural broadband. I have significant expertise in this area and will work to fully fund pervasive, redundant broadband to attract world-class employers to the Assembly District.
2.) Health insurance mandate reform. NYS has excessive health insurance mandates. Business owners have identified this problem as a major impediment to growth and sustainability. I have a plan to address this problem substantively.
3.) Transportation innovation. I have a unique approach to the problem of moving goods and services from rural parts of the District to the market place. This includes public private partnerships as well as persuading legislators from other districts to “buy-in”. Rather than emphasizing our differences, I will make the case that policy that will work here will also work in their home districts.
4.) Unfunded mandate relief. Through a combination of the multi-billion dollar problem of Medicaid Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, plus a State Constitutional Amendment to end unfunded mandates and legislation to begin funding those mandates on the books, I will work to finally provide the relief necessary in order to bring the already high cost of property taxes down. This will not only make our region more attractive to potential employers, but it will also allow residents of the District to stay in their homes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in numerous recent visits to the North Country, has said he believes exciting things are happening in this region. He often cites the Regional Economic Development Council and other regional initiatives as evidence that the North Country has strong economic prospects. Do you agree? How do you view the state of the North Country?
We have strong economic prospects because we have great people. In light of this, I think our economic policy should focus on creating the right environment wherein great people can fully realize their economic potential. This would include addressing those things which are inhibiting our ability to grow. My platform, cited earlier is designed to do that. I certainly don’t fault the Governor for being optimistic; however, I think we also need to face reality. Unemployment has doubled during the incumbent’s tenure. She has been ineffective in addressing this problem, largely because the economy hasn’t received an appropriate level of her attention. Realistically, synchronizing the Governor’s optimism with reality on the ground cannot occur if we return the incumbent to Albany.
The unemployment rate in many North Country counties is still in the double-digits. What do you see as the biggest barriers to getting more people working, and how would you, as a state lawmaker, work to fix the problem?
A change in leadership is absolutely essential. In a recent correspondence with you I provided reasons why I believe this is the case. Please feel free to copy/paste any of that into this present correspondence. Of course, it should be said that no single lawmaker deserves all of the blame, or perhaps even a lion’s share of the blame. However, I believe if we examine the issue of unemployment through the lens of leadership, it is correct to state that while there may be many factors that contribute to chronic high unemployment, we are looking for solutions.
Whatever level of blame may correctly be placed on any incumbent, solutions clearly are within their purview. Given that unemployment has steadily increased during the entire tenure of the incumbent, I believe we have given her adequate time to demonstrate whether or not she has the ability to focus on the problem and provide solutions.
Lawmakers have been talking for many years about easing state mandates on local governments, but so far, not much has been done to shift some of those burdens from local property taxes to state income and sales taxes. What would you do about it?
This is an important part of my platform. I am of the opinion that lawmakers either lack the will or the creativity necessary to address the problem substantively. I have the will, and I have a plan. In my first session I will introduce a bill to amend the State Constitution to outlaw unfunded mandates. This is a better approach to the problem that the bill introduced by the incumbent which merely sought to require the State to fund future mandates. That attempt has thus far failed along partisan lines. Additionally, rather than address this huge problem through Constitutional Amendment in 2010, the incumbent chose to support a Constitutional Convention which was nothing more than a poorly veiled attempt to gather Tea Party support. This poorly conceived idea probably closed the door on anyone even considering enjoining the incumbent in a Constitutional approach to the problem of unfunded mandates.
In addition to the Constitutional approach, I will introduce legislation to begin funding the unfunded mandates on the books. I will probably look for a single success story – something that is easy for members in the majority party to swallow. I believe we can then build on that success to increase the funding level for those unfunded mandates on the books.
Since many unfunded mandates pertain to education, I should also add that I would like full state funding of public education. This may seem like a paradox to some folks, but those states that have eliminated property taxes as a means of funding education have experienced significant economic growth.
Talk about how you, as a lawmaker, would interact with your constituents. Is the incumbent doing a good job when it comes to interacting with taxpayers, local officials and businesses?
I would like to make greater use of Social Media than the incumbent. I would also like to setup kiosks in the district so that people who do not have broadband or tools like Skype at their disposal in their homes can use these tools to communicate with me. Sometimes, that additional bit of interaction can make all the difference. Despite what some naysayers might suggest it’s a very affordable idea.
I think the incumbent has less of an interaction problem and more of an enaction problem. That’s something I will change when elected.
According to recent polls by Siena and Quinnipiac, the state Legislature has improved its image with the public significantly in the last two years. How do you view the state Legislature?
I think the legislature has largely rode on the coattails of the Governor who this year has predictably began resorting to the sort of backroom politics we’re used to seeing in New York. I predict his honeymoon is just about over and he will probably pull the plug and run for President in 2016 rather than being pinned with the stigma associated with long-term incumbency in New York politics. This may sound cynical to a few of your readers. However, I think even the most hopeful journalists recognize that some of the deals struck this term crossed a legislative threshold that is hard to return to.
The Assembly is likely to retain its Democratic majority. As a Republican from a rural area, how would you bring attention to the issues that matter most to you and build relationships with people from across the political aisle?
Thank you for this very important question. I’ve listened to the incumbent for years. When she lets her guard down, it is clear that hers is primarily an argument of us vs. them, perhaps not so much a combative approach as one of contrast. In other words, she accentuates our differences.
Conversely, I will posit our legislative needs in a manner that allows other legislators to “win” as well. I will do this by focusing on our similarities.
To illustrate this I have frequently used two real world examples of bridges in New York. One bridge, in Crown Point, was closed for safety reasons. This didn’t just happen. The problem was identified. The solution simply wasn’t provided in a timely fashion. It was not a spending priority. Consequently people lost their jobs and businesses closed.
Six hours south of Crown Point we are going to be rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge. Failure to plan for this very predictable project means that the bridge that commuters will use for the next 40 years to get to their jobs in
New York City will not actually be the bridge they need. Further, we cannot actually afford the bridge we’re settling for. To make up the difference, there is an effort underway to increase current toll charges by 40%, just to pay for the inadequate bridge. Estimates suggest that the finished bridge tolls may be three times the current level. This will almost certainly drive some of our Canadian trade partners to bypass our district completely choosing instead to move their goods, services, and money into the States through places like Detroit.
Even though the scale is different, the problem is essentially the same. My solution, in part, is to allow public and private partnerships. In the case of rural roads and bridges, local decision makers and stake holders would have greater means at their disposal to address problems caused by leadership failure in Albany. This approach is working in other states. In our State it could allow large employers the flexibility they need to make a decision to setup in our region. Or, in the case of Tappan Zee, it could allow a private entrepreneur to build a mass transit lane so that people can move more quickly and efficiently across the Hudson River and to their places of work.
In other words, by introducing a “win” for us that is also a “win” for others, we can build a successful coalition and get the legislation through. It is very clear that this tried and true method of negotiating has not been used by the incumbent. I think it will work.
Between new teacher evaluation systems and the Dignity for All Students Act, New York has passed big education laws this year. Is the state heading down the right path when it comes to reforming the education system? If not, what do you think the state is getting wrong and what are the best solutions?
The new evaluation system is smoke and mirrors. There was already a system in place. Most teachers are fine professionals and are not the problem.
The Dignity for All Students Act doesn’t actually dignify all students. The one thing it does that is new is that it codifies the indoctrination of students who for religious reasons may not agree with LGBT dogma. Further, it creates a new unfunded mandate as each school district predictably scrambles to implement the requirements – requirements which are not fully clear.
New York State needs to do a few things to fix education. First, we need to reform the State Department of Education. Second, we need to constitutionally ban unfunded mandates. Third, we need to begin funding the unfunded mandates on the books. Fourth, parents need greater say in their children’s education. This can be accomplished by Charter schools, vouchers, or both. Fifth, local schools should have greater say over curriculum. Sixth, we need to revamp the State Board of Regents. Seventh, we need to put more emphasis on education in our High Schools and Colleges that will create a ready workforce.
Quick hitters; where do you stand on the following issues?
For it, both horizontal and vertical. We should use water though, and not harmful chemicals. AND, New Yorkers should benefit from it in the form of rebates similar to the way Alaskans benefit from oil in their State. Natural gas communities are economically healthy communities. Handled properly they are environmentally healthy too.
Casino gambling (should it be expanded as Cuomo wishes)
No. While some folks enjoy recreational gambling, a good many New Yorkers have been hurt by it. Further, the Akwesasne voluntarily pay a portion of their proceeds to the State to be divided amongst Northern townships in the district. That money goes away if the State gets into the gambling business.
Minimum wage (should it be raised as Democrats have suggested)
No. We need to focus on policy that encourages full to near-full employment. When labor is in demand laborers can demand higher wages.
Lawmaker pay (should legislators get a higher salary as some have proposed)
Heck no! AND Duprey should give back her double-dipping salary until she actually retires and leaves the Assembly!
Medical marijuana (should New York legalize it)
No. It’s a canard.
Janet Duprey has been at odds with the conservative wing of her party for a while now. That includes support for same-sex marriage, as well as her endorsement of Dede Scozzafava over Doug Hoffman. Does she still fit with the modern mood of the GOP?
Looking back now, I don’t think she has ever fit within the GOP, Conservative or otherwise. Like so many others, I was duped by Duprey.
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