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Katko says 2nd term will be different in many ways

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo

Politically, central New York will have something new when it comes to Congressional representation this year. For the first time in a decade, the 24th District, which represents Syracuse and surrounding areas, will have someone other than a freshman member of Congress representing it.

When Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) won re-election in November, it was the first time the district voted for the same candidate two times in a row since former Rep. Jim Walsh represented the area. While it’s been identified as a swing district by national pundits in recent year, Katko hopes that’s a thing of the past.

"Maybe they were just looking for the right person. That’s what I hope at least. Congressman Walsh, remember, held this seat for 20 years. They weren’t very fickle with him. But he was an independent voice in Congress and he took a reasoned approach with things, and that’s what I think I am,” said Katko, a Republican, like Walsh.

Looking back on the past two years that made up his first term, Katko says he prides himself on being independent. He says the high point of his first term was passing 14 bills, with eight of them signed into law. Many of them were a result of his appointment as chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security.

And the low point of the term?

“Sometimes it just gets maddening to watch relatively small factions on both sides of the aisle sometimes hijack the process. That gets maddening at times. But just keep your head down, stay cool, keep moving forward, and we get a lot more done than you realize.”

In his second term, Katko hopes to continue working on homeland security issues and to find funding for infrastructure repair -- especially for the revamping of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse. The congressman says another goal is restructuring the tax code in order to help bring jobs to central New York, which he believes will help relieve the massive poverty in Syracuse.

One thing that will be different for Katko this year -- a White House with a Republican president. Katko did not support Donald Trump during the general election, and doesn’t see anything on that front he should change.

“I’m going to continue to be exactly what I am. And that is an independent voice for central New York. And when I agree with him, I agree with him, and when I don’t I won’t. Period.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.