- What should be the role of science and scientists in government policy- and decision-making?
It is critical to listen to the scientists because they’re the experts, they know more about their respective field than the policymakers. Policymakers should be listening to scientists as they decide how best to proceed.The decisions and the policy they make should be reflective of the science being put in front of them. We have an obligation to enable scientists to play a role in policy and decision-making and encourage their input. Long before Michael Caputo was doctoring COVID-19 reports, he was a far-right political pundit in Western New York. We got to see first hand what happens when a political agenda comes before independent research.
- What have you learned from the coronavirus pandemic? What policy changes should be made to both prevent and respond to future pandemics in a more effective way?
We have watched as our neighbors and family members have struggled since March to put food on the table, stay healthy, and navigate the fear of this pandemic. We needed leadership from the very top, and we did not get it. Instead of giving money to the working people whose buying power makes our economy run, it was given to billion-dollar companies that spread the money around to executives.
We need to make sure that money goes into the hands of working people, and that the people who need it are protected. We also need to make sure that we have policies that reflect the needs of our healthcare workers, first responders, and our essential workers while also responding to what the experts are telling us. We need to change our policy so that our hospitals are protected, our families are protected, and we have a leadership structure in place to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.
CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- What are your policy priorities to address the ongoing climate crisis? How would these policies impact other systems, if any (e.g. economy, agriculture, education)?
Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge facing our planet and communities in the U.S. and around the globe are already experiencing its impacts. We have an obligation not only to ourselves but to our children to take immediate action to address climate change’s threats to our economy, health, and environment. My policy priorities are to support 100% transition to clean energy by 2050, access to clean air and water as well as regionally funded initiatives such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Plan 2014, and several Farming and Conservation initiatives. These policies may include financial incentives to help ease a transition to more environmentally conscious policies, as well as frameworks that provide ecologically helpful and sustainable farming practices to support our agriculture industry. These policies impact other systems because climate and environment impact us all, and I want to help protect not only NY-27 but the country we live in.
- Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not? If you support transitioning our economy away from fossil fuel dependence, how will you support workers who will need to transition to different industries?
The Green New Deal, at its core, is a series of values and I support clean water and clean air. I think we need to take partisanship out of it and agree that we need clean air and water for our children. One critical way to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels, cut carbon pollution and other forms of air pollution, and save consumers and businesses money is to increase our use of and investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, like wind, solar, and geothermal. Investments in the clean energy industry also create good-paying domestic jobs and grow the U.S. economy. The clean energy market is rapidly changing as technology improves and becomes cheaper. In fact, the costs of solar and wind energy have been falling sharply for years, and are now the cheapest sources of new energy across much of the country. I support 100% transition to clean energy by 2050. This means that some workers will need to transition to different industries, and in order to support them I will support legislation that provides workforce training in clean energy, especially for our veterans and those whose careers were formerly in fossil fuels.
- What should our education system, from K-12 to higher ed, be doing to prepare students to be adaptable critical thinkers, especially considering the challenges of climate change, misinformation, and work at the human-technology frontier?
We all have a vested interest in ensuring that younger generations become well educated, engaged citizens, equipped with the tools necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing economy, participate in our democratic government, and lead happy, fulfilling lives. As our country and world have changed there is a need for the federal government to set a basic standard for our nation’s public schools, especially since several states have decided to hamper their students’ success both through cuts to education funding and teacher pay. With increased challenges in climate change, misinformation and work at the frontier of human-technology, it is more important than ever to prepare the next generation of critical thinkers. This can only happen through teachers who are supported in their ability to teach. Teachers and public education have been under attack for decades, and a combination of increased college tuition and cuts to teacher salaries have resulted in many qualified candidates choosing not to become educators. We must not only increase teacher pay substantially, we also need to ensure that our teachers can be unmoored from the crushing burden of student loan debt by bolstering the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
FOOD & AGRICULTURE
- To what extent are you concerned about the threat of climate change in disrupting agriculture in New York State in the coming decades? What, if any, policy changes should be made to ensure our farms are resilient?
NY-27 is home to the largest agricultural producing counties in the state. We just had an incredibly short growing season. It snowed in May, and we had our first frost in mid-September. We need policies that help farmers prioritize soil health and regenerative practices so they can sequester as much carbon as possible. Farmers are already working on such thin profit margins, so covering costs like seed, and no-till machines are small steps we can take to help farmers build climate resilience.
- Optional: How do you see federal food and agriculture policies impacting public health? What interventions should the federal government employ to help people living in food deserts or with food insecurity?
Western New York and the Finger Lakes region feed the country with our vegetables, milk products, craft beers, and wine. So while we produce such abundance, our rural communities and our neighbors in Buffalo and Rochester can’t access fresh food. We need to support rural/urban partnerships that provide pathways to better food access. Wholesale partnerships with schools are another great way to build a better food system that supports farmers and brings fresh, local food to communities.
- Restrictions and suspensions of new work visas, especially for high-skilled workers in science and technology fields, could affect scientific progress and innovation. Do you agree with these restrictions? Why or why not?
I do not agree with these restrictions. Migration is a human right. Immigrants are worth more than what they produce. I deeply believe that the United States is a wonderful place to live. I decided to raise my family here after spending 20 years in Asia. We need equitable immigration policy that will support American industry without excluding poor immigrants. Restriction policies around new work visas only serve to damage our chances of competing on a global stage.
- Optional: As climate change worsens, the number of climate refugees will increase within the US as well as globally. What role should the US play in mitigating this problem? How, if at all, should US immigration policies adapt to this issue?
Western New York will only get more temperate as climate change progresses. We’re lucky to count the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes in the abundance of our region. Our rural region will become denser and we must adapt. I plan to lead our region in planning for these changes, so that the people experiencing the benefits of increased development are the people who call this region home, not big companies. Stopping the movement of climate refugees coming from famine, drought, and desertification is murder. Americans disproportionately use fossil fuels, so we must be leaders in mitigating the effects of climate change.
- What is your position on the 1996 Dickey Amendment? What role should the federal government take in addressing issues relating to gun violence?
The Dickey amendment has been detrimental to solving the gun violence epidemic. We need non-partisan, government funded research into this issue. I support an end to the Dickey Amendment. We need the CDC to freely gather information that informs legislators and the public about how we can stop gun violence.
- Optional: Considering the majority (over 60%) of gun deaths are due to suicide, what are some policies that could be enacted to promote safer gun ownership practices and address people’s mental health needs?
People experiencing suicidal ideation need to be treated as partners in their own care. Voluntary self-prohibition laws allow a person to limit their access to firearms and direct barriers should they try to buy any. Extreme risk laws allow family members to petition to temporarily remove guns from a person. Our country drastically needs better mental health services. While limiting access to guns is one tactic, we need to attend to the root of the problem by having widely available, affordable mental health care.