A small businesswoman who resides in Willsboro is one of the first challengers to throw her name into the race for Bill Owens’ Congressional seat.
Elise Stefanik has formally filed paperwork to become a candidate for the 21st District. Stefanik currently works in sales, marketing, and management in her family’s business, Premium Plywood Products, Inc.
“I have been very frustrated with the lack of leadership in Washington,” Stefanik said about her decision to run for Congress. “I have seen first-hand how hard my parents had to work to get a small business off the ground and I think we need representatives who have strong leadership and fight to create jobs and help grow small businesses in the North Country.”
Having been interested in politics since high school, Stefanik was a member of the Harvard University Institute of Politics. After graduation, she experienced Washington at the highest levels from 2006 through 2009.
“I worked for President George W. Bush in the Domestic Policy Council and the office of the Chief of Staff,” she said. “I thought it was the privilege of my life to see the decision making process at the highest level.”
Stefanik added she learned a lot from her time in the West Wing about what she felt was proper leadership.
“In the meetings with the Chief of Staff, everyone had a seat at the table and every opinion mattered,” she said. “That is not how all White Houses are run.”
Most recently, she served as Director of debate preparation for 2012 Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.
Stefanik said that she has already been on the trail, visiting many towns within the 21st Congressional District, which includes Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton, Essex, Warren, Washington and Fulton counties as well as parts of Herkimer and Saratoga counties.
“I have spent a lot of time traveling the district and the number one priority from the people I have spoken to is passing policies that create jobs and that promote growth here,” Stefanik said. “Older people are leaving the state and taking small businesses with them and younger people are leaving because of the lack of jobs. That is why I am focusing my race on talking to voters and running the best campaign that I can.”
In her travels, Stefanik said that there were two main issues that came up.
“The first is tax reform, and I will work to bring about a more flat and fair tax system,” she said. “The other thing that I hear a lot about is Obamacare. A lot of people are certainly concerned over the next two years. There is concern by employers about cost and employees that are afraid their hours will get cut.”
Stefanik will be challenging incumbent Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, who said he is not focused on the 2014 campaign season as of yet.
“I am certainly not surprised that there will be a challenge,” Owens said. “I know of at least two others that have expressed an interest. A lot can still happen over the next six to eight months but right now, I’m just focused on doing my job.”