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Coverage of the 2016 presidential election from NPR News and related blogs, including candidate profiles, interviews and talking points.On-air specials will also be broadcast as Election Day approaches, including the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.WRVO also provides coverage of regional elections both on-air and online.

Colleen Deacon on the Campbell Conversations

WRVO File Photo
Colleen Deacon is one of three Democrats vying for the Democratic nomination for New York's 24th Congressional District seat, currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus)

The 24th Congressional District, currently held by Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus), is already attracting a lot of Democratic hopefuls, with nearly a year to go before the 2016 election. One of those hopefuls is Colleen Deacon, a former aide for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Before that, she served as press secretary for former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll. 

Despite never having held public office, Deacon is already picking up some key endorsements. She's been endorsed by U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Oswego County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Kunzwiler. 

In her first extended broadcast interview, Deacon discusses why she's running, why she's unhappy with Katko's performance so far, and other issues. 

Interview Highlights

On why she's running

Deacon: I see politicians in Washington spending time on issues that just don't matter for real people and their lives. I'm a single mom. I've balanced a household paying the bills and it's so frustrating to see all these conversations and arguments happening in Washing that don't affect and help real people of this district. I've spent the last 12 years working for the people of this area, first in Mayor Matt Driscoll's office and then running the regional office for Sen. Gillibrand. I've worked on things like connecting veterans businesses. I held a hire vets workshop to tout why hiring veterans is a great idea, to connect them with local jobs. I also worked to help seniors avoid financial scams financial fraud. And I've been working to grow the area economy by helping small businesses connect to grants and loans and helping them apply.

What are the most important differences between you and incumbent John Katko?

Deacon: I think John Katko is part of the House Republicans that is continuing to focus on the wrong priorities, continuing to take this country in the wrong direction. Their issues are things like defunding Planned Parenthood, taking away healthcare for women, preventive screenings, cancer screenings. Taking away healthcare for women, or anyone, is wrong. They are the party that has threatened to shut down the government over and over again. That doesn't do anything to help our contractors and our small businesses.

What are the most important votes that you would have cast differently than Katko?

Deacon: Absolutely the Planned Parenthood vote. As I mentioned, taking away healthcare from anyone is wrong. And to spend so much time focusing on it is a waste of tie and a terrible way to tell women that we don't care about their rights in this country.

From a foreign policy standpoint,  what should the U.S. be doing in Syria in the fight against ISIS?

Deacon: First and foremost, keeping America safe is our number one priority. That's not negotiable. Fighting ISIS, I don't know the answer. What I do know is that we need to have a strategy moving forward that works with our allies. We need a united front that is smart, to eliminate the terrorists and the terrorist threats that we have, not only to America but to much of the world. But I also think we need to have a plan going forward that when we do eliminate these organizations, we aren't creating a vacuum where other organizations can move right in and take over where the other left off, which is what we're seeing now.  

Grant Reeher is Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and a professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is also creator, host and program director of “The Campbell Conversations” on WRVO, a weekly regional public affairs program featuring extended in-depth interviews with regional and national writers, politicians, activists, public officials, and business professionals.