Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Washington, DC — In case you missed it, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik published an op-ed in the Democrat & Chronicle and the USA Today NY Network, which includes print outlets in multiple media markets across New York State.


Stefanik in the Democrat & Chronicle: Don’t let NY Democrats damage the critical importance of our local elections

Rep. Elise Stefanik

September 14th, 2023

“All politics is local” said former House Speaker Tip O’Neill — and after serving in Congress for nearly a decade, I can confirm that Tip was absolutely right.

Local elections have outsized impacts on the daily lives of hardworking New Yorkers. In New York, our local elections historically happen in odd years — separate from our presidential, gubernatorial, federal and state elections. And for good reason; this ensures that local candidates and campaigns get the focused coverage and attention by voters that local issues deserve.

However earlier this year, in typical Albany fashion, New York Democrats voted to move our local election date to combine with federal election years. This means that our town supervisors and town council members will be elected on the same date as federal and state candidates.

It gets worse, Albany Democrats are experts at creating loopholes and carve-outs to protect Downstate New York Democrats. This latest power grab conveniently excludes all of New York City’s elections as well as city elections, village elections, school board elections and county clerks, district attorneys and sheriffs races.

As if trying to illegally gerrymander the state and federal lines wasn’t enough, now the state Legislature is attempting to sabotage our local Upstate New York elections by nationalizing them.

Local issues matter, and local elections are the most direct form of representation in any given community. Nationalizing these races will make federal concerns the dominant issue overshadowing the important local issues for New Yorkers.

In my district, I am proud to work closely with town supervisors, clerks, board members and county legislators of all parties to ensure our communities receive the resources and support they need to strengthen the quality of life for Upstate New York and North Country residents. This critical bipartisan work will now be placed in jeopardy as local candidates will win or lose based on the national political environment and be forced to spend time discussing unrelated federal issues.

Off-year elections have always allowed candidates to earn victories based on their ideas for local government — closest to the people. If Gov. Kathy Hochul signs this deeply flawed legislation from the Democratic supermajority-state Legislature, local elections will be placed on the back burner, while federal elections will consume all the oxygen in the media.

The fact is that national races and issues take precedence in the media throughout midterm and presidential election cycles. Not to mention, national races raise far more money and can price lower-budget local races out of most advertising. This will restrict the reach of the messaging of all local candidates on important local issues while national issues are at the forefront of every conversation due to the millions of dollars spent on advertising for the federal races.

This legislation will result in less attention to local elections, not more. With the exclusion of certain local races such as city elections and county sheriff, elections will still be held in odd-numbered years, meaning that this change would not “save” local governments any money.

New Yorkers care deeply about their local communities and protecting their quality of life. We care about taxes, services, jobs and local economies, planning, zoning and development issues. This is why local elections matter.

New York must not allow our local elections to be nationalized and consumed with federal issues. This legislation passed by Albany Democrats in the dark of night will hinder our election process and hurt the hardworking families whom local officials are elected to represent. New Yorkers oppose this partisan legislation and we urge Hochul not to sign this bill.