Candidate Paul Tonko (Democrat, Working Families)

Questions By RAY FELICIANO

Click to go back to Seven Way Race for NY 21st Congress District

1. A July Gallup poll showed only a 14% approval rating for Congress. Why is that? What would you do to improve the public's perception of Congress?

I believe the low approval rating is due to the public’s frustration with the lack of progress on issues important to them. In 2006, the American people expressed a clear desire for a change in direction, and I don’t believe that Congress has lived up to their expectations. If I am elected, I will reach across party lines to foster action and erase the gridlock in Congress that is partially responsible for the American people’s ire. I will work towards a responsible withdrawal from Iraq, enact an energy policy that works for all Americans, and address the economic challenges that face families in this country.

Candidate Paul Tonko
Candidate Paul Tonko

2. If elected to congress, what measures, if any, would you take to help the growing segment of people who are struggling to keep up with the rapidly rising food, fuel, and healthcare costs that have not been matched by rising wages?

I will work immediately to help working families struggling with enormous increases in heating bills. I will push to increase federal aid to needy families to offset the increase in natural gas and home heating oil. But we need a long-term solution to our energy crisis, and it begins with a sustainable national energy policy that is focused on alternatives to fossil fuels. I will also work towards a national healthcare policy that provides coverage and preventive care for the uninsured and underinsured, and a comprehensive prescription drug coverage plan.

3. What Social Issues, if any, would you champion while in congress?

One of the most pressing social issues is the achievement gap between students from different socio-economic backgrounds. According to the Urban Institute, the high school graduation rate in this country is roughly 70%. In our modern economy, a high school education may not be enough to get ahead, and the fact that we are leaving 30% of our children behind is both astonishing and embarrassing. As a member of the New York State Assembly, I was an early supporter of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which led to increased funding for the neediest school districts in the state, including many districts located within the 21st Congressional District. I believe that Congress has a moral responsibility to close the achievement gap.

4. What do you see as the greatest challenge facing America today and in the coming years, what would you do about it so that we are prepared?

The greatest challenge will be adapting to dramatic economic changes both domestically and globally. Due to a mix of geopolitical, economic and environmental factors we can no longer rely solely on fossil fuels to power our economy. We must commit to a future built on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This change also poses an historic challenge to the standard of living of working families. The economic expansion that occurred over the last eight years has largely benefited the wealthiest Americans, while middle class wages remained stagnant. Furthermore, our education system is not preparing our students for the economic future. I believe that Congress should take action to make investments in our infrastructure, education system and other sectors vital to our economic future.

5. Why should the people of the 21st district choose you over all others??

I have over twenty years of experience working for the people of this district as a member of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, an Assemblyman from New York’s 105th District and as President and CEO of NYSERDA. I have reached across party lines to solve problems, and I will continue that record in Congress.

Campaign Information
(518) 512-3762
paultonkoforcongress@gmail.com
www.paultonkoforcongress2008.com