Get to know the congressional candidates

Aubrey Zych, Co-News & Features Editor

The upcoming national elections, which take place on Nov. 6, will be a deciding night for more than just Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. There are several other elections taking place that night, including those for the 24th Congressional District in Central New York. Voters will pile into booths Tuesday night to decide whether Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (Republican), Former Rep. Dan Maffei (Democratic) or Ursula Rozum (Green party) will be the congressional representative for CNY for the next two years.

Congressional elections are often out-shadowed by the presidential elections, and voters can sometimes be uninformed about the candidates. At the same time, the congressional representatives often make decisions that affect local citizens much more than the president’s decisions. Voters should stay informed on who’s who in the congressional election to prepare for the big day this Tuesday.

 

Ann Marie Buerkle (R)

Buerkle, 61, of Onondaga Hill has worked as a registered nurse, Assistant New York State Attorney General and has been the 25th Congressional representative since 2010. She also served one year on the Syracuse, New York Common Council. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Hospital College of Nursing, Le Moyne College and Syracuse University.

On the issues

* Believes lower federal taxes and less government regulation is the best way to restore Central New York’s economy. She voted for free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and voted against a program that funds training for workers who lose their job due to foreign competition.

* Supports Bush-era income tax cuts for everyone, regardless of income, and opposes President Barack Obama’s plan to end the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 per year.

* Considers President Obama’s Affordable Care Act “federal take over” of the health care sector. She has voted against it repeatedly since its passing in 2010. She supports certain parts of the law, such as requiring insurers to cover patients with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26.

* Is pro-life. She voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and has supported numerous attempts to cut federal spending to Planned Parenthood.

* Believes in a smaller government that spends less in order to restore the economy. If re-elected, she plans to eliminate some federal programs and agencies including the Department of Education.

 

Dan Maffei (D)

Maffei, 44, of DeWitt worked as an aide to U.S. Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Bill Bradley, and U.S. Congressman Charlie Rangel between 1996 and 2005.  He was also elected to the U.S. House of Representative in 2008. Maffei lost the congressional election in 2010 to Buerkle by only 648 votes. He is a graduate of Brown University, Columbia University and Harvard University.

On the issues

* Believes investments in infrastructure and transportation, such as a high speed rail, will help grow the Central New York economy. He plans to permanently close tax loopholes that give companies incentives to send jobs overseas. He opposes free trade agreements with NAFTA, South Korea, Panama and Columbia because they hurt CNY maufaturers, he says.

* Opposes President Obama’s plan to extend tax cuts only for those earning less than $250,000. Instead, he supports extending the Bush-era federal tax cuts for those earning less than $1 million per year.

* Believes the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in 2010 needs improvements, but opposes any efforts to repeal the law. Maffei also voted to lower a medical device excise tax that he says would help pay for the reform. According to Maffei, CNY seniors now save about $785 a year on their prescription drug costs because of this law.

* Believes in balancing the budget by closing corporate tax loopholes, getting rid of tax breaks for oil companies and reducing the amount of U.S. dollars spent overseas “nation building” in foreign countries.

 

Ursula Rozum (G)

Rozum, 28, of Syracuse currently works as a community organizer for the Syracuse Peace Council and is a member the Colombia Support Network. This race is Rozum’s first campaign for a public office. Rozum has been involved locally with the movement for immigrant and workers rights and for banning hydraulic fracturing in New York state. In 2008, she worked with a large Get Out the Vote effort with Citizen Action of NY that helped win Central New York for Dan Maffei and Barack Obama. In 2010 and 2011, she worked on Green party campaigns for Governor and Common Council.

On the issues

* Supports massive public works and public service programs to ease unemployment in Central New York. She believes the federal government should create jobs and hire until everyone is employed. According to Rozum, if the government provides public jobs and paychecks for the unemployed, “private job creation will follow.” Rozum also supports raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

* Wants to keep the Bush-era tax cuts in place for the bottom 90 percent of incomes, while restoring Eisenhower-era taxes and progressively taxing the top 10 percent of incomes. She supports allowing Bush-era federal tax cuts to expire for those earning more than $127,000 per year.

* Supports President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but believes it could use improvements. She would vote to implement government-paid free health care, saying it will control costs and put $570 billion per year into health care, rather than in the hands of private insurance companies and drug companies. Rozum frequently identifies herself as one of the 50 million Americans without health insurance.

* Believes the debt and deficit can be reduced by broadening the tax base and allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire for those earning more than $127,000 a year. According to Rozum, this would yield $1.2 trillion in revenue to erase the deficit. She would also implement new taxes on polluters and a new financial transaction tax for market speculators.