Letter: Elise Stefanik is silent on many major issues
Elise Stefanik is a fair-weather congresswoman. In decent times, she was a balanced and discerning representative — I even voted for her. But as challenges mount and integrity is tested, she’s proven to be little more than a pandering coward.
She lost my support when she first failed to condemn something easily condemnable: a presidential candidate boasting past acts too vulgar to print and which constitute sexual assault. Stefanik waited 10 days to release a statement of her continued support for — while weakly chastising the behavior of — the candidate.
Stefanik still has yet to comment on a new sexual assault controversy, that surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Lately, she has little of substance to say on most matters. Local radio, newspaper and television have all noted she’s less accessible than her predecessors, allegedly in favor of a more modern social media strategy.
Yet little to see there either: While other representatives debate leading policy issues, Stefanik tweets about county fairs, local cookouts and Croghan bologna. Does she think so little of her constituents? Do we not deserve some accountability on, say, her vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, her defense of which being that the ACA “needed work” — can we who risk losing our only health coverage afford to wait for her to tinker with policy in the meantime?
To her credit, Stefanik’s support of the military is one of her stronger (only) assets. But our economy cannot depend on a single U.S. Army post forever; what’s she done to bolster long-term job growth in technology, engineering, sustainable energy or any other industry that could bring even more high-quality, high-paying civilian jobs?
Finally, though support for the troops is Stefanik’s greatest strength, she still falls short there: according to a recent Department of Defense report, Fort Drum has one of the highest rates of sexual assault and harassment of all Army posts worldwide. Our Fort Drum soldiers, both men and women, face the third-highest risk of sexual assault. Fort Drum women face a 32 percent risk of sexual harassment, the first-highest. In the year studied, Fort Drum had the seventh-highest number of sexual assaults: 395. That’s nearly 400 of our friends, family and neighbors, women and men, per year who have survived the battlefield only to be traumatized at home — 400 people each year in need of a hero. But when given the opportunity to unambiguously decry and fight against sexual assault and harassment, Stefanik has meekly shrugged — or worse, remained silent.
The north country I know and love is tougher than this. It deserves tougher representation. It deserves a bold and courageous crusader — not a coward armed with only Croghan bologna and a few PR team-tested buzz words to placate voters while keeping corporate donors satisfied. Elise may have had my vote in the past, but she squandered it — I’m going with the best interests of my home, a place that values real bravery and authenticity. I’m voting for Tedra Cobb.