It's almost a second home town.
Primary candidate for the Democratic nomination for newly-created 23rd Congressional District Nate Shinagawa was at City Hall in Dunkirk Thursday to talk about an Amtrak station,
Shinagawa began by thanking those present and saying he was proud to have an office in the city and noted Thursday was Flag Day.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Nate Shinagawa, a one of three Democratic Cong-ressional primary candidates for the new 23rd District seat, was at City Hall in Dunkirk on Thursday.
"It's a symbol of us doing things together when we can't do it by ourselves," he stated, before citing the military, public education and infrastructure spending as examples.
"This press conference is about getting an investment in transportation infrastructure and other forms of infrastructure here in Dunkirk and throughout the 23rd Congressional District," he stated. "My opponent, Congressman Tom Reed, on March 24 said to the Corning Leader that he didn't see rail and high-speed rail as the future for Western New York and the Southern Tier. Now I believe that he is wrong. I believe that the city of Dunkirk, especially, needs to have access to the rail system."
He cited Amtrak bypassing Dunkirk on its runs through the area and called for an Amtrak train station in Dunkirk.
"It will help our businesses grow and thrive, it will help our students who are going to SUNY Fredonia get here to Dunkirk and SUNY Fredonia more easily," he said. "It will also help with our tourism industry because this is, by the way, the only place in the 23rd Congressional District, the only city that has a harborfront."
He said the station needs four walls, a roof, ADA compliance and a ticket kiosk.
"Opening that station will open up a whole world of people to the city of Dunkirk, which will help our economy thrive here locally," he stated. "That's something we absolutely need to have."
He added the infrastructure investment needs to include aging water and sewer systems, citing already high property taxes.
"We need help from the state and federal government and as your congressman, I will work hard every single day I am there to make sure that the federal tax dollars that people pay here in this district and go to the federal government come back to this district," he stated. "That's what we need to have and we need to have that investment in infrastructure, specifically inside of this district."
Shinagawa then discussed the NRG plant in the city, citing as one of its problems inadequate transmission lines from this area to the Eastern seaboard.
"I propose we have a transmission line that extends through the Southern Tier so that we can also bring more security to the NRG plant here in Dunkirk," he said. " ... Government, by design, is about empowering people. Getting people together so we can do what we can't do alone and infrastructure investment is absolutely something we need to do. It's good for our economy, it's good for business, and it's good for the people inside our congressional district."
Mayor Anthony J. Dolce spoke next and thanked Shinagawa for "once again coming back to the city of Dunkirk and recognizing another vital issue in this area.
"As mayor, and as councilman for many year before that, I've appreciated the worsening condition of our infrastructure," Dolce said. "It's a topic that many municipalities are facing across the state and nation."
Dolce cited the area's aging infrastructure needing constant repair and replacement and told of the city's needs. He said the lack of adequate help from the state and federal governments will have him asking Common Council to adjust water rates shortly.
"That is why I'm glad to hear that Nate understands the critical nature of infrastructure and as our congressman, he will fight to help Dunkirk and other municipalities in the same situation, maintain the infrastructure needs at a reasonable cost to the local municipality," Dolce said. "Nate, I know I speak for many local residents when I say thank you for your continued presence in our area ... and your continued concern on issues that affect the middle class."
Next up was Fredonia Mayor Steve Keefe. He stated that Republican Congressman Tom Reed doesn't understand some of the issues faced on the local level. He said he uses the train to visit New York and Boston.
"The secret is once we establish a stop in Dunkirk, we need to educate people to use it because if it's not utilized, it's not going to be sustained," Keefe said. "It saves energy, it saves the environment, and it's a common sense approach to something that will help our environment, help our infrastructure, help everything in a more productive way."
Dunkirk Third Ward Councilman Adelino Gonzalez said Shinagawa was talking about issues important to the city.
"Our great mayor has mentioned the importance of NRG, the importance of our harbor, how important it is to have our Amtrak station back in Dunkirk," Gonzalez stated, adding Shimagawa has taken on the issue.
Gonzalez said there were a lot of Hispanic minorities in the cities of Jamestown and Dunkirk, along with the county in general.
"I'm asking them for their support of Mr. Shinigawa in this great cause as goes on to be our next 23rd Congress representative," Gonzalez explained.
Shinagawa then took Reed to task.
"Congressman Tom Reed's plan for economic development and job growth in this district is to give more tax cuts to billionaires and to multi-national corporations," he began. "I disagree with that. I believe our future comes from investing in the middle class. Investment in infrastructure is one of the ways you do that.
"When you build a road, or when you invest in a train station, or you invest in a sewer system, that's jobs that are created right now. They're not going to the savings account of somebody that lives in Manhattan, it's actually employing people right here in this district, right now. And that's the type of investment that we need to have because not only does it create jobs immediately, it creates long-term benefits that enrich the economy of this area and the 23rd Congressional District needs that."
Shinagawa then fielded questions, including about federal funding. He said he was calling for partnerships and added the "Tea Party Congress doesn't want to see taxpayers money come back."
"I take the very opposite view. I think that we pay taxes here in Chautauqua County to the federal government and your congressman should be doing everything in his or her power to bring those dollars back into the community."
Shinagawa also claimed the Republican majority in Congress was more interested in obstructing the president than solving problems.
"There used to be a day when Republicans and Democrats realized that investments in infrastructure and public transportation was something that both sides could agree on. ... This Republican congress is very focused on dividing people rather than bringing people together," he stated. "As a member of Congress, I will absolutely work with members of the opposing side ... to make sure we are prioritizing what's important for the American people and actually getting this government to do what's best."
Shinagawa faces two attorneys, Leslie Danks Burke and Melissa Dobson, in the Democratic primary June 26.
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