Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Plattsburgh Press Republican Article

Gillibrand visits Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID — Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing for what she calls an “energy independence revolution” in her run for a seat in Congress.

During a 35-minute conversation in Lake Placid Monday morning, the woman hoping to oust John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park) as the 20th Congressional District’s representative, said that revolution would bolster national security, create new jobs and protect the environment.

The goal, she said, would be to cut the nation’s dependence on foreign oil by 60 percent. Meanwhile, the government should provide incentives to industries to become more energy efficient and to entrepreneurs to develop and market alternative energy.

This region, she said, is ripe for new businesses and the jobs they’d bring aimed at producing clean energy.

Within 10 years, she said, the country could be energy independent.

“With federal leadership, you can make this a reality,” Gillibrand said.

Leadership was a topic she returned to repeatedly over the conversation, saying her opponent has provided not nearly enough of it during his time in office.

“They (voters) want real leadership and they want new ideas,” she said.

High gas prices have been draining North Country wallets for months, yet Sweeney and his Republican colleagues have yet to thoroughly investigate oil companies to determine if they are unfairly manipulating the market, she said.

She said the ruling party has also failed to provide short-term relief by reducing the federal tax on gas, something that would be a boon to an area in which most people drive to and from work.

“I really believe we need a stronger advocate,” she said. “We need legislation that lowers gas prices. We need tax cuts that benefit our district.”

Gillibrand, a lawyer, lives in the southern end of the district in Hudson. She is married and has a son.

Also included in her platform — tax cuts aimed at the middle class and the reining in of health-care costs.

She criticized Sweeney for repeatedly voting against increasing the minimum wage, accusing him of voting “against working families of our district.”

(Sweeney did just vote for a bill tying a minimum-wage increase to an estate-tax cut.)

Asked where the money for the reforms she’s pushing (some of the incentives she proposed to spur the development of alternative energy relied on tax breaks) would come from, Gillibrand pointed to the federal government.

“Cut spending,” she said, listing a number of expensive pork-barrel projects that are of dubious value to the nation.

“We need to start auditing our federal spending,” she said.

She called the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 87, site of several bloody collisions, a “very bad idea” and unnecessary.

And she dismissed the Congressional Winter Challenge, the ski weekend that’s ensnared Sweeney in controversy, as ineffective.

Gillibrand said the North Country needs a representative in Washington who will promote it tirelessly and fight to spark job-growth.

“We’re building the kind of campaign it takes to beat an incumbent,” she said.

Gillibrand will be in the area for the rest of the week and will appear in Lake Placid on Thursday with Democratic candidate for governor, Eliot Spitzer.

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