Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Republican who is running in the special election for the old 19th Congressional District, said people on the campaign trail tell him affordability is the number-one issue.
Molinaro is challenging Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a Democrat, in the August 23 voting to fill the remainder of Antonio Delgado’s term in the current 19th District, which expires at the end of the year.
Regardless of the special election outcome, Molinaro will run in the November general election for the redrawn new 19th District against the winner of the August 23 Democratic primary, Jamie Cheney or Josh Riley.
Confused? You’re not the only one.
“I’ve always believed that campaigns aren’t about the candidates. They’re about the voters, and telling people what their issues should be is never a good strategy,” Molinaro said during an August 15 phone interview.“Overwhelmingly, people are anxious and concerned about cost of living, whether they say it’s directly inflation, or high taxes, or just, you know, what they fear is coming next, as far as growth in increases, that is consuming them…Small family farms are concerned that they’re not going to have enough resources to stay afloat, small businesses are not able to find a workforce, and their costs are growing, and average families are overwhelmed by skyrocketing costs,” Molinaro said.
“And that is and remains their biggest… the one thing they’re overwhelmingly concerned about.”
Molinaro got his start in politics at an early age, serving on the Dutchess County village of Tivoli’s Board of Trustees at age 18 in 1994. The next year, he become the youngest mayor in America at age 19. He was re-elected mayor of Tivoli five times until 2006, when he was elected to represent the 103rd District in the state Assembly, where he served through 2012. He was then elected as Dutchess County executive.
Molinaro made an unsuccessful run against former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018.
He lives in Red Hook with his wife Corinne and four children, Abigail, Jack, Eli and Theo.
Molinaro noted many communities have felt left behind by policymakers.
“They talk a lot about their government, Albany and Washington, and ignoring their needs and using common sense to help them,’ he said.
Another big issue is an increase in crime as bail reform has led to people getting back on the street to commit more offenses.
“DAs talk about having the law change in such a way that they just can’t prosecute crimes that they could and average families have seen it, whether it’s breaking into somebody’s car, and they’re in their neighborhood, or something more violent in and around our more populated areas,” he said.
Government spending out of control
“We know that people who once worked one job are now working maybe a job and a part-time job to make ends meet,” Molinaro said.
“And what they see is their government consistently spending more and taxing more. The average person can see that when they’re trying to tighten their belts and they’re trying to make their ends meet, they see their government just spending and taxing more and it’s offensive to them,” he said.
Then what is the solution?
“First you control spending, and government has to live within its means. The federal government, the state government is too bloated. It’s too broken,” Molinaro said.
“I have always felt that the government closest to the people is more effective but in many ways it’s more efficient and what we consistently see is substantial spending when we don’t have it and taxation when people can’t afford it,” he said.
“I think we have to confront that government needs to live below its means and start to reduce taxes and the burden on middle class families, on farms and on small businesses.”
Abortion is a states’ rights issue
Molinaro said regardless of one’s opinion of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, it is not up to the federal government to dictate access to abortion.
“I do not believe there is a role for the federal government to restrict in states that have broad access based on state policy, nor could they overrule states that have restrictions. It is now a state matter,” he said.“What that means is citizens and legislators have to engage in that dialogue. In New York, right to access is broad.It’s broader than I think most people feel comfortable, but that said, it is broad access, and it will remain.”
Background checks, prosecution, training key to curbing gun violence
“We are not serious in this state,and sadly, in many states across the country, about holding criminals accountable,” Molinaro said.“When you commit a crime with a gun, you should be prosecuted for a crime with a gun.In New York, 65 percent of gun related crimes are pled to non-gun-related crimes. That is without even accounting for cashless bail and discovery (reform)…Secondly, the federal government has a backlog of about a million background checks. We need effective backgroundchecks in the states that require them for the reasons they require them…There cannot be this system where these go unresponded to, so the federal government, the FBI, need to conduct effective background checks.”
He also noted early intervention is key to prevent behavior that leads to gun violence.
“What we need is a system of response nationwide that intervenes at the right moments, and balances our constitutional right to own and bear arms against the need to intervene when we know an individual may in fact, express desire to commit violence against themselves or others,” Molinaro said. He drew a comparison to emphasis in Dutchess County on trauma-informed care including a focus on crisis-intervention and social-emotional training.
“Not enough healthcare professionals are trained in trauma-informed care and social-emotional training so that when they interact with a young person who may have a have had trauma, and we see the indications that they may act out violently, they don’t intervene,” he said.“Not enough teachers, administrators, school social workers across this country, have that same training. And we know if we can identify this early enough, we can prevent incidents of violence…The government is spending billions of dollars to hire IRS agents.Perhaps we could invest in in the kind of trauma-informed care that would broaden community based mental health services that will have an enormous impact nationwide.”
Curbing opioid abuse through better enforcement, treatment
“Fentanyl is flooding this country, and it’s flooding this country in legal ports of access and at our borders,” Molinaro said.“We need to be effective which means a greater collaboration between federal state and local law enforcement for the purposes of drug trafficking.”
He noted Dutchess County has a drug task force that coordinates with county, state and local authorities. He also called for better community-based treatment.
“Every county in America needs a stabilization center, a treatment center where you can walk in off the street any day of the week, anyplace anytime you need to get the kind of intervention that helps you on your road to recovery,” he said.“ And with that, integrated community based mental health service nationwide, which means we have to demand insurance companies pay for more than the nominal amount of drug treatment,” Molinaro said.“It needs to be longer inpatient services for those needed and longer outpatient services for those who need it.”
Was the 2020 election stolen as Trump claims?
“I am woefully aware that Joe Biden has won the presidency. We are living with that ever since,” he said.“Moving forward, we need to ensure absolute protection and integrity of our election system. I’ll just say that in Dutchess, we had an Election Commissioner, one Republican, one Democrat, both of whom manipulated votes. They were sentenced and brought to jail,” he said.“ Those are the kinds of steps to kind of invest in enforcement that we need to ensure election integrity for everyone access and integrity.”
For more information, see marcforus.com.