I’ve been inspired in life by my younger brother — who has cognitive disabilities — to stand up for the underdog and ensure that each of us has dignity and access. After working in disability services, I went back to school to study policy. I first moved to Syracuse in 2003 to attend the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. I became a PhD candidate and purchased my home in the Outer Comstock neighborhood of Syracuse in 2012.

Working families are the heart of central and western New York and I’m running for Congress to make sure that we put them first. I have a simple yardstick to measure every policy that I support: Will it improve the standard of living for the hardworking people of central and western New York?

If so, I support it. If not, then we need to go back to the drawing board. That’s why my top priorities will be to:

• Get big money out of politics so our representatives work for us, not their mega-donors.

• Ensure that every American has access to affordable health insurance and healthcare.

• Bring down the cost of prescription drugs so no one has to choose between medicine and food.

• Build a fair tax system that puts working families, farmers, veterans, seniors, and students first and ensures the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share.

• Protect Social Security and Medicare: we have earned these programs by paying into them our entire working lives.

Congressman Katko told us that he would put the needs of the district ahead of party loyalty. But his votes tell a different story. In 2014, he said adding to the national debt was “immoral” but then voted to add $1.9 trillion to the debt in giveaways to his mega-donors. He promised he wouldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act unless there was a replacement, yet his tax bill gutted the ACA: Premiums are rising and coverage for pre-existing conditions is at risk. He promised he wouldn’t cut Social Security or Medicare, then voted for a Constitutional amendment requiring cuts to those programs to balance the budget. He wanted open debates in all four counties of the district but wouldn’t join me for any outside of Syracuse. Congressman Katko doesn’t work for us, he works for his big-money donors.

I will be a different kind of representative. I will show up in all parts of our community and listen to people. I have already held open town halls in all four counties and have pledged to continue holding them once in office — at least one in every county each year. I will carry your concerns to Washington and make sure that the people of this district have their voices heard. Together, we will bring government back to the hands of the people, where it belongs.

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