Democratic candidate for Congress, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), finished his town hall tour of the 22nd District over the weekend. During Brindisi's hour-long Q&A with a crowd of about 25 in Oswego County Sunday, he pledged to work for his district rather than his party, saying Congress needs independent thinkers to achieve progress.
"I'm also someone who is not afraid to reach across the aisle, work with Republicans, work with Democrats to really get things done," Brindisi said. "And to me, that's how every elected official should behave. There's a time for campaigning, but once elections are over there's I believe a time for governing. And it doesn't matter what party you're in, you actually have to get things done for the people who put you there."
Brindisi toes the Democratic Party line on issues like preserving and fixing the Affordable Care Act and opposing the use of taxpayer dollars to send children to charter schools. But on several hot-button issues Brindisi breaks from some prominent members of his party by not supporting a ban on semi-automatic guns, or opposing the construction of a border wall along some parts of the Mexico border and not calling for abolishing the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency.
Several people in attendance at the Central Square town hall praised those moderate stances, like Eric Heinzman of Constantia.
"He doesn't really seem to be an ultra-liberal voice or trying to pander to conservatives like we will see them do," Heinzman said. "I think he really seems to be kind of a middle-of-the-road type of candidate, which I think is good for our district because we have a good diverse mix of people and viewpoints here and I think he would be a good representative of that."
Timothy Benson of West Monroe says he plans to vote for Brindisi this fall in part because he believes his willingness to compromise will help the country.
"You can't have the isolation that you have in Congress now, all of the rhetoric," Benson said. "People like [Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi I really think she should go away. She shouldn't be in Congress anymore."
Brindisi's moderate take on some issues is not a campaign strategy, he says, it's "where the majority of Americans are." But he is running for office in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by 30,000 voters.
His opponent, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford), characterizes Brindisi's claim that he is independent as "dishonest," saying he voted with Democrats in the New York State Assembly 97 percent of the time and will do the same if elected to Congress.